Thursday, March 29, 2012


Chiefs in Swaziland have the legal right to evict their subjects if they defy their authority, the kingdom’s High Court ruled.

Swazi High Court Judge Bheki Maphalala dismissed a man’s application to stop Ezulwini Chief Sifiso Khumalo from evicting him, local media report.

Sandile Hadebe from Ezulwini had been evicted by the chief after he had expelled his deceased elder brother’s widow and her two children from her marital home. Hadebe refused to allow them back, even after the chief had issued such a ruling, and also failed to pay two cows as a fine.

This led to the chief evicting him from his area for defiance, but Hadebe challenged the decision at the High Court, saying he had a clear right to live at his homestead.

Judge Maphalala ruled that in Swaziland the king made the decisions about how nation land was used and in this case Hadebe had no rights.

King Mswati III is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The judge also said that the king ruled through chiefs and therefore Chief Sifiso Khumalo acted on behalf of the king when he evicted Hadebe.

Judge Maphalala said the Swazi Constitution played no part in this case. ‘In terms of Swazi Law and Custom, Khumalo has a right to evict him from the chiefdom for defying his authority,’ he added.


Activists across Swaziland are calling for the occupation of a teacher training college after 148 students were reportedly expelled for taking part in a protest march.

Facebook sites in the kingdom are buzzing with calls for action after the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) reported that Ngwane teachers’ college expelled the students for taking part in a national protest against the Swazi Government’s scholarship policy on Monday (26 March 2012).

The SSN reported, ‘On Monday afternoon the principal of Ngwane teachers' college convened a disciplinary meeting which promptly resolved to fire 148 students who are suspected to have participated in a protest march organised by the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS).’

The SSN added that the majority of the students were first year students.

Posts on a variety of Facebook sites, including the SNUS and the April 12 Uprising, are calling for action to be taken against the college.

The SSN itself said, ‘All Swazi students should occupy Ngwane Teachers’ College until the affected students are allowed back.’

See also


Wednesday, March 28, 2012


The Swazi Observer today (28 March 2012) carries an abject apology to King Mswati III relating to an article that was said to have ‘brought the institution of the Monarchy into disrepute’.

It’s no surprise the Observer kowtowed to the King – he in effect owns the newspaper.

The Observer ‘unreservedly’ apologises to the ‘Monarchy and the Royal Family for any embarrassment that the article may have caused’.

The paper goes on to restate that it remains ‘committed to its mission statement which is to protect the institution of the Monarchy in particular His Majesty King Mswati III and the Queen Mother and to promote the image and the interests of the Kingdom of Swaziland without prejudice to the people of Swaziland’.

The article was an obituary for Inkhosikati LaMasuku and included information about the love life of King Sobhuza II, King Mswati’s father.

Here’s the article in full – judge for yourself whether apologies were in order.

The Observer published a second article on the same topic the following day (17 March 2012). To read that click here.

Swazi Observer

16 March 2012

Songbird that moved King’s heart sings no more

SO much has been said about the circumstances around the romantic life of Inkhosikati LaMasuku and King Sobhuza II but very little has been recorded except for what was gathered by anthropologist Hilda Kuper, who told the story of the king as she saw it.

Her contemporaries may have invaluable information about her but in celebrating her well travelled journey of accomplishment in her roles as parent and wife to one of the world’s greatest statesmen we can only just look back and relive her earlier days through the very little that we can put together.

Journalist-cum-gospel artist Thabile Mdluli (nee Masuku) had a stint with the Inkhosikati, who expressed her wish to have her past documented in a book. She told Thabile that she would have loved it if the story was told or written by a woman.

It was then that I also jumped at the prospects of teaming up especially because of my close relations with the Masuku tribesmen. Of particular interest on my part was to somehow balance the gender perspectives in the writing.

It was through these informal encounters that we got the opportunity to learn slightly more about the Inkhosikati’s romantic life with the king.

We learnt of her early and humble yet strict and conservative Christian beginning, what with the family’s strong adherence to the doctrines of the South Africa General Mission (SAGM). It was at Swazi National High School where Pauline Fikelephi Masuku was part of a choir of graduating students that she first caught the king’s attention with her striking beauty, ‘tall, graceful, honey coloured, radiantly lovely’.

Princess Pholile, a daughter to King Sobhuza, was her classmate and he told his daughter to bring her to him. Kuper says “she came reluctantly and afraid”.

He spoke to her and found her as intelligent as she was beautiful. She responded to his kindness and unaggressive charm; she told him of her family and her own ambitions.’

That marked the start of a protracted romantic journey that involved love letters the king sent her via his daughter Pholile.

Because she had told him about her wishes to become a nurse, the king did not disturb this wish but continued to woo her in the fashion commoners do.

Fikelephi was very much in love especially because of the king’s gestures but back home there was this religious thing where traditional customs were loathed as ungodly. At the heart of these customs was polygamy, something that did not go down well with her. It was for this reason that she was helped by her parents to escape to South Africa, where she finally pursued her nursing in Durban and Johannesburg.

King Sobhuza was not to give up easily; he continued flooding her with those love letters and melodious messages. This again brought her closer to him because she had fallen in love with him.

Back in the land, King Sobhuza was driving from Lobamba to Lozitha when a buck came galloping past and this was rather strange given the scarcity of such game around the area so he consulted a sangoma, Guvela Mkhabela who unpacked the riddle – that the girl he was in love with was returning to him.

This is according to legend and was also captured by Kuper, who said ultimately Fikelephi was taken to Nkhaba to be initiated as a wife to the king, the Inkhosikati. At Nkhaba, under Prince Mnisi, she was exposed to her rivals and that is where she had a torrid time as she was being hated by some of the other women. “For a girl brought up in a strict Protestant mission atmosphere, it was undoubtedly an ordeal and though many of the queens, more especially laMatsebula, were patient and understanding, instructing her in the ways of tradition, a few showed their jealously in barbed taunts and spiteful tricks. Sobhuza appreciated her difficulties and decided to move her temporarily to a place of her own.”

She was taken to Hlane and for the first time recovered her happiness and freedom. That was the begging of yet another chapter in her life that saw the foundation of her family.

Brief Obituary

Fikelephi, Pauline Masuku was born on 11 October, 1927 in the Makhwane area, Ekupheleni. She was the second born of Elias Masuku and Linah Sihlongonyane of Siphocosini.
Her parents were members of the Evangelical SA General Mission (SAGM) church.
They were farmers, rooted in the Protestant faith, and not accustomed to certain African traditional customs and beliefs. She attended primary school at Makhwane and Mbabane Central. She completed her secondary education at Swazi National High in Matsapha.

His Majesty King Sobhuza II attended a musical concert at the school, where she sang in the old girls’ choir, comprised of graduate students. It was at this event where the king first noticed her. At their initial meeting, she expressed her goals of pursuing a career in nursing.
The king respected her wishes at the time. Nonetheless his interest in her remained and Princess Pholile became the main intermediary in the courtship which ensued. During the five years of evading the king, she enrolled in a nursing course at King Edward Hospital in Durban and Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg. Eventually though, the king’s wishes were realised.

In 1949, Mfundza Sukati was instructed to take her to the royal homestead of Enkhaba under Prince Mnisi, where she officially became inkosikati. After this she was moved to Lobamba before she settled at her new residence, named Hlane. This was the first western-styled residence amongst the royal residences. On 4th May, 1950 LaMasuku gave birth to her first son. The King named the child Prince Phikanebenkhosi. Following this, she gave birth to three daughters, Princesses Dlal’sile (1956), Msindvose (1960) and Nqobile (1962).
In light of the distance to Hlane, the King acquired a farm in the Masundvwini area and relocated her there in 1953. The King renamed this farm as Etjeni Royal Residence. This was the childhood residence of his Majesty King Mswati III, along with several other members of the royal family.

In the early seventies LaMasuku was instrumental in the establishment of Phocweni Primary School at Masundvwini, Dlal’sile Primary School at Hlane. She was the first member of the royal family to be baptised in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and thus paved the way for many Swazis to join this Christian denomination.

LaMasuku experienced health problems in her later adult life. Following a long ailment, she passed away at Manzini Clinic on 10 March 2012. Hilda Kuper described her as “an intelligent, industrious, artistic and imaginative craftswoman, who kept herself busy in his absence, crocheting, sewing, embroidering, doing beautiful beadwork and cultivating a vegetable garden”.

She will be dearly remembered by her loved ones and many of those whose lives she touched.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


The Times of Swaziland censored itself when it reported Wikileaks was asking people in the kingdom to leak documents to its website.

The Times, the only independent daily newspaper in Swaziland, reported yesterday (26 March 2012) that Wikileaks asked people to send it documents relating to the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a banned organisation in Swaziland where King Mwsati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The Times said Wikileaks, which ‘publishes and comments on leaked documents alleging government and corporate misconduct,’ had specifically asked for ‘Intelligence memos from the Ministry of Defence or Police about the pro-democracy organisation, PUDEMO.’

But, what it did not report was that Wikileaks had a higher priority from Swaziland than PUDEMO on its wanted-information list: ‘Expense accounts of King Mswati, the Queen Mother and the King's wives.’

This is not the first time the Times Group has misled its readers about what people outside the kingdom are saying about the king. In March 2011, its companion newspaper the Times Sunday reported on foreign media coverage of a mass protest in the kingdom that called on the Swazi Government - handpicked by King Mswati – to resign.

The newspaper failed to report that a many international news media specifically laid the blame for Swaziland’s troubles at the feet of the king.

King Mswati, the international media reported, has 13 wives, each with a palace of her own and that his lavish lifestyle runs to fleets of Mercedes and BMW cars, as well as high class international travel. All this while seven in ten of his subjects barely exist, earning less than US$2 a day.

In 2007, the Times’ publisher was forced to make a fulsome public apology to the king after the king threatened to close down the newspapers. This was after the Times Sunday reproduced material from an article by the Afrol news agency quoting an International Monetary Fund report saying, ‘Swaziland is increasingly paralysed by poor governance, corruption and the private spending of authoritarian King Mswati III and his large royal family.’

In the past Wikileaks has published a number of cables from the US Embassy in Swaziland that have been critical of King Mswati, including one from the then Ambassador Earl Irvine stating that the king is ‘not intellectually well developed’, ‘is not a reader’, is ‘imbalanced’ and has a ‘lack of wisdom’.

See also




The Swaziland Government’s spokesperson has admitted that it is powerless to stop people in the kingdom setting up their own Internet radio stations.

Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has strict controls over the media. Nearly all broadcasting is state-controlled with news and speech programmes heavily censored. The one independent TV station and one independent radio station in Swaziland self-censor so that no criticism of King Mswati and his supporters are allowed on the airwaves.

Swazi Governments have for many years refused to allow new radio stations – especially community stations – to operate so it can control what Swazi people are allowed to hear and say on air.

But a new station called Radio Sikuphe has challenged this. It broadcasts on the Internet and also on a low-powered transmitter inside Swaziland.

Earlier this month, Government Spokesperson Percy Simelane said Radio Sikuphe was broadcasting illegally on land and on the Internet, but now he has been forced to backtrack.

In a statement to local newspapers Simelane said it was not illegal to broadcast over the Internet. ‘If they are using internet and nowhere at any point do they use the country’s frequency then they are off the hook,’ he is reported saying.

He added it would still be illegal for Radio Sikhuphe to broadcast over the air in Swaziland, even if it was only doing so for short distances.


Classes across Swaziland were abandoned and some colleges and universities closed altogether yesterday (26 March 2012) as students took to the streets to peacefully protest against government scholarship cuts.

Police attempted to arrest Maxwell Dlamini, President of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), when he tried to take the lead in the protest march in the kingdom’s capital, Mbabane. He had also hoped to address the students.

Students formed a human chain around Maxwell to allow him to escape. He then went into hiding for the duration of the protest.

Swazi media reported that between 600 and 1,000 students were on the march and the SNUS said 3,000 took part. Riot police sealed off roads to stop the students reaching the city centre.

Students were protesting about cuts in the number and value of scholarships awarded this year.

Police had tried to arrest Dlamini because they say he breached bail conditions by attending the protest. He is awaiting trial on charges of illegal possession of explosive charges.

Friday, March 23, 2012


A court in Swaziland has declared a strike by workers demanding leave pay in the notorious ‘sweat shop’ textile industry illegal.

Although 2,500 workers had an agreement with Zheng Yong dating from 2008 that they would get paid leave, the company failed to pay this year, claiming it could not afford to do so.

The Industrial Court in Swaziland sided with the company when it said the agreement had been made in 2008 when the company’s performance had been good. But, it said last year business had been less good so it decided not to pay for leave.

The textile workers went on strike demanding payment for the 17 days annual leave.

Acting Judge Thulani Dlamini said the strike was illegal after the company claimed workers would become violent and put lives and property at risk.

The Swaziland textile industry is notorious for its bad pay and working conditions. In 2008 local media in Swaziland reported that textile workers were so poorly paid they were near ‘starvation’.

The Swazi Observer reported, ‘The workers themselves admit that they had developed strategies to confront starvation because what they earn can hardly see them through the week.’

Textile workers in Swaziland can earn as little as E400 (about US$60) per fortnight.

A plate of food on sale at factory gates in the industrial town of Matsapha costs between E5 and E8, depending on the quantity. At times two girls share the smaller plate of E5 and that sustains them until the end of the eight-hour working day, the Observer reported.

The US State Department, in its 2009 Country Report [on Swaziland] on Human Rights said, ‘These minimum wages did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Migrant workers were not covered under minimum wage laws. Wage arrears, particularly in the garment industry, were a problem.’

See also




Swaziland’s Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs is threatening a clampdown on Facebook and Twitter users who say bad things about the kingdom.

Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze said he would use the law against people who criticise Swaziland on the Internet.

Most mainstream media in Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, are state controlled. Censorship on state TV and radio is common and one of Swaziland’s two daily newspapers is in effect owned by King Mswati. There is only one independent newspaper group in the kingdom and this censors itself when reporting about the Swazi royal family.

A number of blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook sites have been created in recent years, many with the express purpose of furthering the campaign for democracy in Swaziland.

Many of them originate in the kingdom and others are based outside. They are the only freely-available source of news and comment critical of the king that is available inside Swaziland.

Chief Gamedze told the Swazi Senate that he would use what he called ‘international laws’ to bring the Internet critics to task. He was reacting to concerns from Senators that the Internet sites showed ‘disrespect’ to the king.

Chief Gamedze did not specify which laws he would use.

This is not the first time the Swazi Government has claimed it will attack Internet users. In May 2011 Nathaniel Mahluza, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology, said the police had specially-trained officers to track down people who used Facebook to criticise the Swazi Government.

In March 2011, Barnabas Dlamini, the Swaziland Prime Minister, told Senators that his government would track down, arrest and prosecute Gangadza Masilela, a prominent Facebook activist.

Despite these threats, no arrests have been made.

See also



Thursday, March 22, 2012


Students in Swaziland are to march against the government on 26 March (2012) to protest against cuts in scholarships.

The Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) issued a statement confirming the action was still on after the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported the march was off after an intervention by the kingdom’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, Lutfo Dlamini.

Maxwell Dlamini, President of SNUS, in a statement, said 10,000 students would take part in the action to try to force the government to reverse 60 percent cuts in the value of allowances made to first year university students this year; to give scholarships to 700 students admitted last year who did not receive scholarships at all and to increase personal allowances for all students.

He added SNUS was also demanding that government recognise it as a legitimate negotiator for students. Earlier in the week Lutfo Dlamini said he would not talk to the SNUS because it was not registered with the government.

See also



Public service unions in Swaziland will strike for two days starting April 11 (2012) in a continuing protest over pay.

Four unions representing about 30,000 teachers, nurses and civil servants want a 4.5 percent pay increase, but the Swazi government, struggling to find enough money to pay its bills as the economy goes into meltdown, has refused.

Public servants say they will take to the streets in various parts of the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, to draw attention to their claim.

They will hold various meetings in the coming week to finalise their plans, President of the kingdom’s teaching union Sibongile Mazibuko told local media.

She said mass demonstrations would take place all over Swaziland, in towns and in rural areas.

The protests coincide with the first anniversary of the failed ‘April 12 uprising’ in which a group of pro-democracy activists used Facebook to agitate for mass protests in Swaziland. Protests took place, but police and security forces quickly quelled them.

The unions involved are the National Association of Public Servants and Allied Workers Union, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, the Swaziland Nurses Association and the Swaziland National Association of Government Accounts Professionals.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Stiffkitten blog

18 March 2012


Swazi students demand justice

“Life without scholarships is impossible. The socio economic situation in Swaziland dictates that no parent can afford to pay tertiary fees. Denying students scholarships is denying them a future.” President of Swaziland’s Students’ Representative Council, Sibusiso Nhlabatsi, is talking about the planned cuts in education funding and students’ scholarships that will leave many already struggling Swazi students virtually destitute.

The students therefore plan to close down all tertiary education institutions next Wednesday and stage a peaceful protest march to deliver a petition to Minister of Labour and Social Security, Lufto Dlamini.

According to Nhlabatsi, the protest might be directed at student-related issues, but it is also a protest against a regime where the absolute monarch, Mswati III, in effect rules by decree, where the government has virtually bankrupted the country while lining its own pockets, where two thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day many of food aid and where life-expectancy is less than 40.

“Our country is undemocratic,” he says. “All the problems and crisis you see are traceable to the system of government. So issues in Swaziland cannot be separated from the bad governance.”

Nhlabatsi says that the students expect the regime to respond to the march with intimidation and violence, something that pro-democracy protestors have come to expect. “Police will stage roadblocks everywhere. We will be frustrated from the word go and we will denied the right to march on the streets.”

Friday, March 16, 2012


Business LIVE, South Africa.

16 March 2012


Swazi fiscal crisis threatens development goals - UN

Swaziland's fiscal crisis threatens the country's progress towards reaching the millennium development goals in health, education and food security, the United Nations said on Friday (16 March 2012), Business Live, South Africa reports.

The United Nations (UN) warned that delays and some reductions of government spending in the social sector as well as cuts in labour income had worsened poverty by putting an additional strain on the poorest households, especially families affected by HIV and Aids in young people.

The UN assessment was based on a nation-wide survey of 1,334 households carried out in November 2011.

It aimed to provide systematic evidence on the impact and responses to the fiscal crisis in Swaziland on people's lives.

The findings suggested that one in four households suffered shocks such as rising food prices and loss in labour income and that households adopted severe coping strategies in response to the shocks, such as cuts in food consumption, with some families skipping meals for an entire day.

It was also found that families made changes to modes of transport and have had reduced access to services. The report showed that households with members living with HIV were at greater risks to shocks and relied more on cheaper meals or skipped meals all together.

Swaziland entered the crisis with already major social challenges including the highest HIV rate in the world, high unemployment (29% of the labour force in 2010), widespread poverty (63% of the population) and food insecurity (29% of the population).

About 25% of the employed were working in vulnerable employment, that is either self-employed or working for family businesses. The situation is aggravated by a high rate of youth (ages 15 - 24) unemployment at 52%. At more than half of the labour force, youth unemployment is alarmingly high and needs to be addressed.

To read the full report from Business Live, click here.


All public service unions in Swaziland are threatening strike action for a 4.5 percent pay increase.

This comes at a time when the Swazi Government is trying to reduce its public sector salary bill by 10 percent to try to save the kingdom’s economy from meltdown.

Several times in recent months the government struggled to meet its monthly wage bill and had to scuttle off to private companies to raise last minute loans for the payments.

Now, the four civil service unions in Swaziland have failed to agree wage increases with the government. The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA), the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), and the Swaziland National Association of Government Accounts Professionals (SNAGAP) have collectively made it known that if they do not get the increase they will strike in the first week of April.

They will seek a mandate for the strike from their members at a date yet to be announced.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Swaziland’s Finance Minister Majozi Sithole faces arrest for implementing a 10 percent salary cut on senators in the kingdom without their permission.

A warrant for his arrest has been obtained by Swazi Senate President Gelane Zwane. She told the senate she had the warrant for some time but would wait for the permission of King Mswati III before implementing it.

According to local media in Swaziland, she told the senate on Wednesday (14 March 2012), ‘I had even prepared that he would first be arrested and taken to the holding cells here and then be taken to the Lobamba Police Station.’

She said the warrant was still effective and would have been implemented, but some senators begged her to obtain permission from the King first, the Times of Swaziland reported.

Senators are angry that Sithole made arrangements for their salaries to be cut by 10 percent as part of a government drive to reduce the amount it spends on public servants’ salaries. Government wanted to cut all public service salaries in a bid to save the economy of the kingdom from destruction, but failed to do this after protests from trade unions in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Sithole did however arrange for cuts to be made in salaries of MPs and senators.

Senate President Zwane said Sithole had defied a direct order from the senators not to deduct 10 per cent from their salaries.

Media reports later said Sithole had gone to hospital claiming he was feeling ill.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Students in Swaziland will have their scholarships revoked if they engage in political activity, if the Swazi Government has its way.

New rules for students presently being drafted state that ‘at its discretion’, the Scholarship Selection Board can terminate a scholarship ‘when a student is a member, supports or furthers the activities of a banned entity’. In Swaziland all political parties are banned, as are a number of pro-democracy organisations, including the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) and the Swaziland Solidarity Network.

Students in Swaziland are among the most vocal opponents of government and have held many protest marches to Government and class boycotts.

As recently as last weekend students announced they would be protesting on 21 March 2012 in Mbabane and Manzini, the two main towns of Swaziland.

President of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) Maxwell Dlamini told a meeting of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) that students would not just march against the non-payment of their scholarships, but also for social justice.

He said students had lost hope in Swaziland’s undemocratic tinkhundla system of government.

The new rule is contained in the Draft Scholarship Policy for Pre Service Tertiary Education being overseen by Minister of Labour and Social Security, Lutfo Dlamini.

Monday, March 12, 2012


The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) will boycott the 2013 national elections in the kingdom because political parties are banned.

TUCOSWA was launched this past weekend after the two main labour organisations in the kingdom merged.

Its newly-appointed secretary-general Vincent Ncongwane said TUCOSWA should do all it could to frustrate the elections.

Delegates agreed on Sunday (11 March 2012) that if elections took place next year they should be for a multi-party democracy and nothing else.

Political parties are banned in Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, and only individuals are allowed to stand as candidates.

At present the Swaziland Parliament has few powers. Of the 65 members of the House of Assembly, 10 are chosen by King Mswati and 55 are elected by the people. In the senate, King Mswati chooses 20 of the 30 places. The other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people.

The Commonwealth Expert Team (CET) that monitored Swaziland’s last election in 2008 was so unhappy with the system that it advised Swaziland to look again at its constitution, to ensure that there was full consultation with the people, civic society and political organisations.

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) also denounced the poll because political parties were not allowed to take part.

The European Union refused to send a team to monitor the elections because it could not see the point since it said the elections were obviously not free.

After the 2008 Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission reported allegations of widespread bribery, ‘treating’, threats of violence and cases of candidates unlawfully holding voter cards.

Later, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) criticised the Swaziland Supreme Court for siding with the Swaziland state and confirming a constitutional right to ban political parties in the kingdom.

See also



Friday, March 9, 2012


The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) will be officially launched this weekend (10 – 13 March 2012).

The new group is expected to discuss how to step up its campaign for democracy in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Major protests are expected in April and May this year.

TUCOSWA, which will have about 50 000 members, is an amalgamation of the existing Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL). It is hoped that the new group will enable trade unionists in Swaziland to speak with a single voice.

Also at the launch meeting will be the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) – one of the strongest unions in the kingdom and one of the most vocal in its opposition to the ruling elites.

There are fears that the Swazi police might disrupt the meeting which is expected to discuss demands for democracy and economic reform.

Last weekend police in Siteki, a small town in Swaziland, forced the abandonment of a rally by TUCOSWA at a market. Police said organisers did not have permission for the rally and claimed it constituted a ‘health hazard’ at the market.

Among guests at the opening at the Esibayeni Lodge in Matsapha this weekend will be the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), South African Trade Union Coordinating Council (SATUCC) and the African Chapter of the International Trade Union Congress (ITU-AFRO).


Questions are being asked about Swaziland's spending priorities following the publication of the national budget, which sees increased allocations for the royal family and the military instead of focusing on the health and social sectors, according to the South African Mail and Guardian newspaper.

Swaziland has the highest HIV rate in the world and two-thirds of its people live in poverty, many as subsistence farmers in rural areas without water or electricity. Critics say more should be spent on improving basic living conditions instead of funding large-scale infrastructure and subsidising the royal family, the paper reports.

On top of the R210-million allocated to King Mswati III and his family (the same as last year, but up from R154-million in 2010), a further R250-million is being provided for various royal projects, including the refurbishment of state houses, the maintenance of roads to palaces and royal security training.

The king's office, which manages the royal trust fund and business arm Tibiyo -- which is not taxed and does not use its profits for ordinary Swazis -- will receive R5-million, up from the R70 000 it was given last year.

Money for the defence ministry, meanwhile, has been increased by nearly 15% to R713-million and more than R310-million has been set aside for the building of Swaziland's new airport and link roads -- a project labelled by many as a white elephant in the making, seeing as Swaziland has no airline of its own.

To read the full report from the Mail and Guardian, click here.

See also



Thursday, March 8, 2012


8 March 2012

The Women Who Have To Live With Abuse

As International Women's Day is marked across the world -- in some parts there is little reason for females to celebrate. Alex Crawford reports from Swaziland where abuse is widespread.

Click here to see a report from Sky News

See also


Sunday, March 4, 2012



3 March 2012


Maxwell: I was tortured

“I was tied to a bench with my face looking upwards and they suffocated me with the black plastic bag with a huge police officer on my stomach. They [Swazi police] asked me where the guns were and who was going to come to Swaziland to overthrow the king. They did that over and over again till I collapsed. They told me that they will kill me for causing trouble in the country and organizing the April 12 uprising,” Swazi student leader Maxwell Dlamini tells Africa Contact in a statement about his arrest, remand and court case - the Stiffkitten blogsite, reports.

Maxwell was arrested, tortured and charged with possession of explosives in connection with the Arab Spring-inspired “April 12 uprising” in Swaziland in 2011. There has been a campaign for his full and unconditional release ever since, organised by the British National Union of Students, British NGO ACTSA and Danish NGO Africa Contact, who together with the Swazi democratic movement have insisted that Maxwell was innocent.

Having been released on the largest bail in Swazi history four weeks ago, Maxwell can now finally tell the story of his horrendous ordeal in his own words.

Maxwell’s story

”My first arrest was on the 10th of April 2011,” Maxwell tells Africa Contact. “I was returning from South Africa, driving a car when just near the border I met a roadblock. They were conducting a routine search. Then all of a sudden a police officer hit me on the face and I fell down. They drove me to Mbabane regional headquarters where I was shoved into a conference centre full of police officers. They insulted me, undressed me, humiliated and degraded me.”

“Then the head of the team, assistant commissioner Zephaniah Mgabhi, told me to give him the bombs and guns that I was carrying from South Africa. I told them that I was carrying no such thing. I was assaulted and suffocated with a black plastic back till I was very week and I couldn’t breath. After two hours they took me to a police van and drove me to an isolated police station. I was thrown into a cell with no lights or toilet. They gave me neither food nor water.”

“On the 12 of April, I was delivered to another team of Special Forces who took me to my house to search for bombs, explosives and guns. They ransacked the house but did not find anything. The regional commander strictly warned me against joining any protest in the future and told me to resign from SNUS [Swaziland National Union of Students, of which Maxwell is President]. Then I was released and dumped in a far away forest.”

“Thursday the 14th of April 2011, I decided to join the struggling masses of our people who were confronting [absolute monarch king] Mswati’s regime in Manzini. Here twenty police officers arrested me. They drove straight to Matsapha police station. I was taken into an interrogation room. One police officer by the name of Clement Sihlongonyane told me that he would deal with me once and for all. They tied me to a bench facing upward and again they suffocated me with a plastic bag. I was told that I will not finish my degree at the university and that they will kill me or send me to jail.”

“Later, they brought Musa [Ngubeni, Maxwell’s friend, fellow student leader and co-accused] and we were told that we have to sign the confession statement that we were carrying explosives but we refused. The following day they took us to the magistrates court where we were formally charged with allegedly being in possession of explosives.”

The Arab Spring spreads southwards

Maxwell is just one of many Swazi democracy campaigners who have been beaten up, tortured, framed, and detained for months on end, as the Swazi regime has become increasingly desperate in its attempt to cling on to power.

To read the full post from Stiffkitten, click here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


South Africa is sneaking E2.4 billion (US$320 million) to Swaziland to help it shore up its ailing economy so that the undemocratic kingdom does not have to instigate political reforms, a Swazi campaigning group claimed.

Swaziland asked South Africa for a E2.4 billion loan last August (2011), but the deal stalled because Pretoria wanted financial and political reforms as conditions. King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, put the block on the loan because he would not hold talks about unbanning political parties in his kingdom.

Now, the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO) says the loan money is being channelled into Swaziland disguised as cash from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). This way Swaziland gets the money without reforms by King Mswati.

Swaziland is due to get about E7.1 billion in 2012/13 from SACU. This is up from the E2.9 billion Swaziland got in the financial year just ended. SACU receipts are based on the amount of trade done in Southern Africa. But SCCCO says E7.1 billion is more than Swaziland should get based on trade expected over the next 12 months.

The Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa reported Archbishop, Meshack Mabuza, chair of SCCCO, saying his group suspected there had been deliberate over-estimation so that extra funds could be released to Swaziland without questions being asked.

‘We believe these estimates are over-inflated in order to give the R2.4 billion to Swaziland without any political or fiscal conditions,’ the Mail and Guardian reported him saying.

‘We just don’t see how with the current economic climate being so weak that regional imports are going to grow so rapidly,’ he added.

Mabuza said, ‘It just seems very suspicious that Swaziland should be getting so much more this year.’

Budget estimates for Swaziland over the next three years forecast a E200 million surplus for 2012/13 followed by deficits of E1.9 billion in 2013/14 and E1.7 billion in 2014/15 – suggesting that the amount of money Swaziland receives from SACU in 2012/13 will not be repeated in the following years.

South Africa’s Treasury spokesperson Bulelwa Boqwana told the Mail and Guardian the SCCCO’s claim was ‘factually incorrect’ and added the payment had been approved by a Council of Ministers [trade and finance] from the five Sacu member countries.

See also


Friday, March 2, 2012


Swaziland’s Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku lied in New York this week when he said that the Swazi Government recognised women as equal citizens and was committed to the promotion and protection of their rights.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Masuku told the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women that Swaziland was party to several critical human rights instruments, all of which promote gender equality and respect for the rights of women.

Who does he think he is kidding? Only last year (2011) Swaziland was severely criticised at the United Nations Periodic Review of Human Rights meeting for its woeful treatment of women.

Here’s an extract from a report Amnesty International made to the review.

Discrimination against women

The Constitution guarantees women the right to equal treatment with men, a right that “shall include equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities” (Section 28 (1)).

However other provisions of the Constitution appear to fall short of international human rights standards. For example, Section 15(1) that prohibits discrimination on various grounds does not include marital status.

Women’s right to equality in the cultural sphere is also inadequately protected by the provision guaranteeing that “a woman shall not be compelled to undergo or uphold any custom to which she is in conscience opposed”(Section 28(3)). This formulation places an undue burden on the individual woman, whereas international human rights law stipulates that it is the responsibility of the state to prohibit and condemn all forms of harmful practices which negatively affect women. Furthermore, girls and young women are not sufficiently protected under the law from forced or early marriages.

As a consequence of the slow pace of law reform, women remain unprotected by the law and continue to face forms of discrimination permitted by domestic law. The delays cannot be blamed on a lack of resources since the government has been provided with various forms of practical support for this process as it pertains to women’s rights by the EU and UN agencies.

While a number of new bills had had been tabled in Parliament, in May 2010 the Supreme Court ordered that an unconstitutional provision of the 1968 Deeds Registry Act must be amended by Parliament within a year. The provision (Section 16(3)) prohibited most women married under civil law from legally registering immovable property in their own name. By early 2011 the law was still on the statute books unchanged.

Statutory and case law in Swaziland reduce most married women to the status of legal minors. Women married under civil law provisions (the 1964 Marriages Act) are subject to the ‘marital power’ of their husbands. They cannot independently administer property, sign contracts or conduct legal proceedings.

The only exception involves an ante-nuptial contract, and few women seem to be aware of this option.

Women in Swaziland may alternatively marry under customary law under the country’s dual legal system. For them the husband’s ‘marital power’ extends even further and its limits are unclear. The Marriages Act also discriminates between boys and girls, providing a lower minimum age of marriage for girls (16) than boys (18). Under customary law, marriage is permissible for girls as young as 13.

Until the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence draft law is passed, women experiencing gender based violence have few remedies available to them under the law. Under common law, rape is defined narrowly and marital rape is not criminalized in either statute or common law.

The Girls and Women’s Protection Act of 1920 specifically excludes marital rape from its range of offences.


Swaziland is predicted to have a budget deficit of nearly E2 billion next year, even though this year a surplus of E200 million is forecast.

The deficit raises doubts about how much Swaziland can rely on Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) receipts.

In his budget speech last month (February 2012) Majozi Sithole, the Swazi Finance Minister, announced that there was expected to be a surplus in the budget of E200,904,000. This, he said, was because there would be a bumper harvest from the SACU receipts and Swaziland would collect about E7.1 billion in 2012/13. This is up from the E2.9 billion Swaziland got from SACU in the financial year just ended.

The SACU money for 2012/13 accounts for about 60 percent of all Swaziland’s income for the year.

The announcement raised a few eyebrows, because the SACU receipts Swaziland gets are dependent on the amount of trade being done in the Southern Africa region, especially through South Africa. But trade has been sluggish, not buoyant, and predictions are that things will not improve substantially in the foreseeable future.

Sithole believes that the SACU money will bail out the country this year and ensure that public servants will get paid and that other government bills will be met. But in his speech he warned that Swaziland should not rely on SACU receipts in future years.

Swaziland is nearly broke and can’t pay its bills. Since August 2011, it has been trying to get a E2.4 billion loan from South Africa, but King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, put the block on that once Pretoria demanded political reforms as a condition.

Last November the Swazi Government went scuttling to private financiers for a loan to pay public service salaries. Then suddenly the SACU money was announced and the government breathed a sigh of relief.

There are now doubts about whether the E7.1 billion from SACU is really money from the customs union or whether South Africa is using it to launder its own money to bail out Swaziland.

Suspicions were raised further this week when the full details of Swaziland’s budget estimates appeared on the Internet. The budget shows that although there is a forecast of E200 million surplus in 2012/13 there are further predictions of DEFICITS of E1.9 billion in 2013/14 and E1.7 billion in 2014/15 – suggesting that the money Swaziland receives from SACU in 2012/13 will not be repeated in the following years.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Over the past few years, a number of allegations of alleged brutality and the excessive use of force by the Swaziland Police have been made. In the Siteki area, these allegations have recently led to public protests and strikes. It has been reported that four residents of the area have died at the hands of the police. This piece documents testimony from witnesses, friends and family members of the four people who were killed - 10 February 2012.