Saturday, June 30, 2012


stiffkitten blog

June 29, 2012

Danish Development Minister worried about Swaziland

 “I fully share your concern about the human rights situation in Swaziland,” Danish Minister for Development, Christian Friis Bach replied last Thursday to a letter from Danish NGO Africa Contact’s chairperson, Signe Borker Bjerre that conveyed the message of the Swazi democratic movement for tougher measures against the Swazi regime.

Friis Bach also maintained that Denmark is acting on this concern. “Even though Denmark is not officially represented in Swaziland, we make sure that our voice is heard in the European Union, through which we pursue an active foreign policy in relation to Swaziland.”
According to Friis Bach, the European Union is considering taking action against Swaziland for its many recent human rights violations.

“During a conversation with European Union Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, on May 28, I raised the issue of the worrying human rights situation in Swaziland. The Commissioner shared my concern and said that he was considering what action the EU should take.”

Friis Bach even reflected on whether or not the European Union should suspend development aid to Swaziland. “Your call for the suspension of European Union development aid to Swaziland needs to be considered carefully. On the one hand we want to pressurize the Swazi government, but on the other hand we wish to be able to help secure the basic rights of the rural population and support initiatives that promote good governance.”


stiffkitten blog

June 29, 2012

Help us end Africa’s last absolute monarchy, banned political movement tells Danish MP’s

 “The current situation in Swaziland now is that over the past 12-15 years, it has become worse than under colonialism. We have for a long time being fighting a very lone struggle as the international media have ignored our struggle and reported only stories about the king or about what a beautiful country Swaziland is,” Skhumbuzo Phakathi told Danish MP’s last week [20. June].

“With more support for our cause, nationally and internationally, we will be able to put pressure on the Swazi regime. But we need outside help as I am yet to see a struggle won only by the people and not with help from outside.”

Skhumbuzo Phakathi is the Secretary General of the largest illegal party in Swaziland, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), and was speaking during two meetings with representatives of two Danish parties, the Red-Green Alliance and the Social Democrats.

One of the representatives, foreign policy spokesman and MP Christian Juhl from the Red Green Alliance, told Africa Contact that he believed that “meeting Skhumbuzo was important, and it is also important that Denmark support Pudemo and democratisation initiatives in Swaziland.”

Phakathi was in Denmark as part of a tour of the Nordic countries, amongst other things to try and gain support for PUDEMO’s enduring attempts to bring democracy and social and economic reform to Swaziland, a small absolute monarchy bordering South Africa where the majority of the population survive on less than a dollar a day while the royal family live in luxury, where all political parties are illegal and where PUDEMO and others who call for democratic reform are branded terrorists, detained and brutalised.

“We are not demanding mountains,” Phakathi told the Danish politicians. “We are saying that the king must unban parties, that the media must be released, that the state must stop brutalising people, that the monarchy must not be an executive monarchy as it is now.”

And the situation is becoming increasingly desperate and explosive, he insisted. “Many people die of hunger in Swaziland. More than 250.000 live on food aid out of a population of 1.2 million. The educational and health systems have collapsed. And as a result of the lawlessness, police just kill and detain pro-democracy activists. People are getting restless and we don’t know for how long we are able to contain their anger.”

Even though the Swazi regime has no respect for human rights or the rule of law, the international community has chosen to remain silent about its many transgressions against its own population even though they have spoken out against the lack of democracy and human rights in other countries, said Skhumbuzo Phakathi.

The much-publicised democratic irregularities in Zimbabwe are a point in case, he says. “Yes people in Zimbabwe are suffering, but they at least have one thing that we don’t have in Swaziland – basic democratic structures.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


The Swaziland Government has applied to a court to have leaders of the present teachers’ strike jailed for 30 days.

It says the entire executive of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers’ (SNAT) are in contempt of a court order banning the on-going strike which has entered day five. Teachers want a 4.5 percent pay increase.

The case at the Industrial Court was opened yesterday (27 June 2012) and adjourned. 

Meanwhile, the strike continues. The Swaziland Transport and Allied Workers Union (STAWU) said its members would support the teachers and there would be no public transport running throughout the kingdom. 

The Swazi Government, handpicked by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, called the striking teachers ‘criminals’.

Percy Simelane, the government’s official spokesperson, said, ‘Legally, we do not have a protest action or strike, but a spate of lawlessness and vandalism by delinquents whom we have reliably learnt are members of SNAT,’ he told local media. 

See also

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Police fired teargas and rubber bullets at school pupils as the teachers’ strike in Swaziland entered day three.

Armed officers were deployed in schools across the kingdom to stop striking teachers from entering premises to encourage their non-striking colleagues to join the action.

Reports from the ground in Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, were that police used teargas as a first resort and in some cases fired rubber bullets when this did not deter strikers.

Earlier, Minister of Education Wilson Ntshangase had announced that police would arrest striking teachers because the strike had been declared illegal. Teachers are seeking a 4.5 percent salary increase.

Yesterday (26 June 2012), in Pigg’s Peak, teachers and school students were confronted by police. Police spokesperson, Superintendent Wendy Hleta, said police fired weapons after teachers failed to disrupt classes at Mhlatane High School.

Police and correctional services officers were called to stop teachers chanting political slogans.

While the police were preventing the teachers from proceeding to Mhlatane High School, some pupils from Peak Central High School arrived, carrying sticks and stones. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the pupils to stop them entering Mhlatane.

Some teachers and pupils were injured. At least two teachers were admitted to Pigg’s Peak Government Hospital, according to local media reports.

Police also fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers who were trying to enter Ezulwini Community Secondary School. The police later told the Times of Swaziland newspaper, they only fired stun grenades.

In Siteki, riot police blocked roads to prevent teachers from marching to the town centre.

At Mbekelweni Lutheran High School, armed police were called to remove striking teachers who had entered the school.

Talks between the teachers union SNAT and the Swazi Government to end the strike reportedly broke down last night without agreement.

See also

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Swaziland’s Minister of Education said teachers who go on strike in the kingdom today (26 June 2012) will be arrested by police.

Wilson Ntshangase said the strike over a pay claim had been declared illegal and striking teachers were therefore breaking the law.

Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Ntshangase told the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, there was a court order making the strike illegal and teachers engaging in the strike were breaking the law. He said it was the police’s duty to bring law-breakers to book and police would be deployed at all schools during the strike. 

He told the newspaper those found breaking the court order by striking would definitely be arrested.

 ‘We cannot stand aside and watch; hence will be deploying police to the schools. It is their job to enforce court orders in the country and they will surely arrest those teachers going against this,’ he said.

Ntshangase said that they could not arrest the teachers’ leadership as they needed evidence before doing that.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Churches in Swaziland want an independent inquiry into the police killing of the alleged rapist Bhekinkhosi ‘Scarface’ Masina.

They also want the deaths of two other people, possibly at the hands of the police, to be investigated.
The Council of Swaziland Churches wants the independent inquiry to be wide ranging and involve police, politicians, the church and civil society.

The call was sparked by the police killing of Masina while he was allegedly resisting arrest. Police say they shot him in the thigh and Masina died of his injuries. Later a Swazi newspaper said its reporter had seen Masina’s body and it had a bullet wound to the head.

The other two cases the Swaziland Churches wants investigated involve Sihle Bhembe and Vamile Gumbi. Bhembe died in a police station cell after police say he repeatedly hit his own head against a wall. Gumbi died after being interrogated at a police station. All deaths occurred over a space of three weeks.

In a statement, the council said it was concerned that the three deaths happened in the custody of the police, or just after they had been taken in for questioning, over the course of three subsequent weeks and it is imperative to ascertain the circumstances leading to the deaths. 

The council also called upon churches to resolutely defend the rights of defenceless and marginalised people in Swaziland.

It also wants the Swazi Government to introduce police training so officers can conduct their duties to international standards and with regard to the human rights of Swazi people.

See also


Saturday, June 23, 2012


The alleged rapist Swaziland Police said died after they shot him in the thigh while he was trying to flee had a bullet wound in the head, a local paper reported.

The Times of Swaziland said its reporter had inspected the corpse of Bhekinkhosi ‘Scarface’ Masina and found a bullet wound ‘on the left side of the forehead, just at the top of the left ear’.

The Swazi police have publicly given at least two versions of Masina’s injury. They originally said Masina had been shot once in the thigh and died of his injuries. Later they changed their story and said he had also been shot below the knee.

Now the Times, Swaziland’s only independent daily newspaper, says Masina’s body had six bullet wounds, ‘one in the head, one in the lower back and four on three of his body limbs’.

A Times’ reporter accompanied Masina’s family during an inspection of the corpse at the Good Shepherd Hospital mortuary.

Police said they would not comment on the condition of the body until their pathologist had made a formal report on a post mortem.

The Times reported, ‘Scarface died on Thursday two weeks ago after seven months of failure to apprehend him for a series of alleged rape cases that happened between November 2011 and February this year.

‘According to the police, Masina was caught during a major raid by the police at a makeshift home he had built next to Mpaka. The Masina family have said the police’s refusal to let the family check his whole body before the pathologist tampered with it was evidence that they knew there was more than what met the eye.’

See also


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


The alleged serial rapist shot ‘in cold blood’ by Swaziland police had four bullets in his body, despite police claims he was only shot once in the thigh.

Members of the family of Bhekinkhosi ‘Scarface’ Masina, who was killed by police last week after they cornered him following months of pursuit, say they saw Masina’s body prior to a post mortem yesterday (19 June 2012) and it had four bullet wounds. ‘One is on the left foot, another on the arm just next to the hand and two on the right thigh just above the knee,’ the deceased’s relative Solomon Masina told local media.

Police originally said Masina had been shot once in the thigh and died of his injuries. Later they changed their story and said he had also been shot below the knee.

Solomon Masina said police refused to allow him to inspect the back of the body before the post mortem.

He told the Times of Swaziland he wanted to look at the back of the body because he believed Masina had been also shot in the back.

Swazi Police said its own pathologist would determine how many times Masina had been shot. He would report his findings in due course.

Earlier this week the Swaziland Solidarity Network reported that Masina had been shot in cold blood by police.

Masina is alleged to have raped at least 13 women and children over the past year.

See also


Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Swazi police have been accused of killing a serial rapist suspect in cold blood.

The controversy surrounds the death of Bhekinkhosi Masina, who has been dubbed “Scarface” by police and media in Swaziland. He allegedly raped more than 13 women and children women during the past year.

Last week police cornered Masina and shot him in the thigh and he died of his injuries. Police say he was trying to escape; they used minimal force and did not want to kill him.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said in a statement. ‘This is an outrageous lie.’

It added, ‘What happened the day Masina died is that they encircled his hideout so that he would not be able to flee. When he found out that he had been cornered, he might have attempted to flee, only to find himself face to face with more police officers.’

Masina’s family told media in Swaziland that they were suspicious of the police’s explanation because they had not been allowed to view his whole body. When they went to identify him, they were only allowed to see his face.  

SSN said, ‘What we can vouch for is that all the people who have come forth with information have confirmed that Masina’s body has bullet wounds on his back. This confirms our suspicions and his grandmother’s worries, and explains why his family was not allowed to view his whole body.

‘His aunt, Jabhile Masina, could not understand why Bhekinkhosi had dirt in his mouth when she saw his body in the morgue yet police claim he was apprehended alive. No matter how much pain he was in, there is no way he could have allowed that dirt to remain in his mouth because frankly it caused him discomfort. This only points to one possibility; Masina was dragged from the floor when it was clear that he was dead, which means that police had no intention of taking him alive. Only a dead body would not bother to spit out dirt from its mouth.’

This killing is not an isolated incident in Swaziland, where police have been involved in a number of controversial shootings, leading to suspicions that they have a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy.

In May 2011 it was reported police shot dead a man who was tending his dagga field and then planted a bullet in his underwear.

In October 2010, a suspect was shot six times even though he was handcuffed. Police said he was trying to escape.

In March 2010, police shot a man in cold blood who was trying to surrender to them.

In January 2010, Swazi policeman shot dead a man and critically wounded another when they shot at a car that failed to stop when they instructed.

Also in January 2010, police gunned down three men in cold blood. A man police claimed was shot while running away from them was later found to have bullet wounds in the front of his body.

Swazi police have been criticised for having a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. They have also been involved in a number of heavy-handed attacks on members of the public, including shooting a nine-year-old girl during a teachers’ strike, and shooting near school children.

See also

Saturday, June 16, 2012


The Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) is refusing to disclose the names of airlines it says are willing to use the Sikhuphe International Airport when it eventually opens.

This comes amid a disclosure that no agreements have been made with Swaziland’s neighbouring countries about which routes planes will be allowed to use in and out of the new airport. And, it could take at least three years before airlines start using the airport.

SWACAA has been talking up the prospects for the airport, even though it is not yet finished and no completion date has been announced.

Sikhuphe Airport, dubbed King Mswati III’s ‘vanity project’ by critics, is at least two years behind schedule opening. The King himself had confidently announced the airport would open in time for the FIFA World Cup in South Africa in 2010, but today two years later the airport is nowhere near ready to open.

SWACAA Marketing and Corporate Affairs Director Sabelo Dlamini told Swazi media that at least three airlines from different countries have ‘shown interest’ in using Sikhuphe, but he declined to name them. He remained optimistic about the prospects for Sikhuphe and said SWACAA was talking to airlines in other countries as well.

But, he also revealed that it could take three years for an airline to actually start using the airport once it has decided to do so. ‘Normally, airline operators need about three years to prepare for such an exercise and we are nursing hopes that those we have approached will consider our proposals. What I can safely say is that we have three potential airlines ready to operate from the airport,’ he told the Swazi Observer.

Although he did not say so, this means it is highly unlikely that any significant air traffic will use Sikhuphe before at least 2016.

Dlamini also revealed that no agreement had been reached with Swaziland’s neighbours South Africa and Mozambique about which routes planes would be allowed to take in and out of Sikhuphe. 

There have been many doubts in the past that there is a need for Sikhuphe. Swaziland’s existing airport at Matsapha is under used and there are many other airports catering for international airlines in South Africa and other nations in southern Africa. The total cost of Sikhuphe by the time it is eventually finished has been estimated by some to be in the region of US$1 billion.

These doubts were renewed this week by former Zombodze Emuva Member of Parliament and businessman Titus Thwala who told SWACAA at a meeting with the Federation of the Swazi Business Community (FESBC) that Sikhuphe was a ‘white elephant’ that  would eventually bring the kingdom’s economy to its knees. 

See also




Friday, June 15, 2012


Swaziland soldiers sprayed the house of the kingdom’s main opposition leader with bullets in what prodemocracy activist believe was a planned attack.

The home of Mario Masuku, President of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), at Makhosini near Nhlangano was hit by bullets fired by members of the kingdom’s army, known as the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force.

The bullets riddled the structures but members of Masuku’s family who were inside at the time were not injured. Masuku himself was not at home.

Masuku’s home is situated over 200-300 metres away from a road, but the local Swazi media say the house was reportedly hit by accident. Soldiers were said to have been chasing and firing at car smugglers.

Zakhele Mabuza, spokesperson for PUDEMO, said, ‘We don’t want to believe this was a mistake but it was something done deliberately and those who did this had a motive.’

The Army told the Times of Swaziland it had no record of the incident, but Swazi police confirmed receiving a complaint about the incident.

Masuku has been a target of the Swazi government in the past. In September 2009 he was found innocent of making statements at a rally to incite people to terrorism by the Swaziland High Court after spending 10 months in jail on remand. The court threw out the case in a matter of hours, saying there was no case to answer.

PUDEMO and all other political parties and most opposition groups are banned in Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

See also


Thursday, June 14, 2012


Two Swaziland schoolgirls, one aged nine, have been shot by state police in separate incidents during a teachers’ strike in the kingdom.

The nine-year-old, a grade five pupil from St Andrews Primary in Malkerns, 30 km outside the commercial city of Manzini, was shot and wounded in the leg by state police today (14 June 2012).

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Swaziland, reports, ‘The shooting came as hundreds of students from surrounding schools were chased and beaten by state police armed with teargas, guns and batons.’ This was on the second day of a nationwide strike by teachers seeking a 4.5 percent pay rise.

CHR reports, ‘According to students, who declined to be identified, a group of teachers came chanting and toyi-toying into Bosco High School and forced them out of classes. The students claimed even though their teachers were not around, they were continuing with their studies inside their classrooms.

‘A few minutes after the group of teachers had left fully armed members of the riot squad, and personnel from His Majesty’s Correctional Services budged into the school and fired tear gas canisters into classrooms.’

The shooting was confirmed by authorities at the St Andrews Primary School. They also confirmed that the young girl was heavily traumatised and had been admitted at Mankayane Hospital.
In a separate incident, another schoolgirl, whose age is not reported, was shot in the shoulder by police using rubber bullets.

CHR reports the form one pupil, who attends school at St Annes High School, was shot in the left shoulder, and was also injured on the forehead.

Her mother told CHR that after the shooting she took her daughter to the local police station where they were given a police report to enable her to go to hospital. They eventually returned home due to lack of transportation.

CHR reports, ‘Police brutality was also witnessed during the teachers’ protest march in the streets of Manzini. At least two members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) were interviewed by the Centre soon after their injuries.

‘A marshal, Mr Menzi Tsabedze, who was visibly in pain was injured in the leg during a scuffle that ensued between striking teachers and riot police. Mr Tsabedze believes he was hit on the leg with the butt of a gun whilst he was trying to control the crowd, whilst another female teacher bore a visibly bruised and bleeding knee; an injury she sustained after police tripped her and beat her.

‘At the close of the protest march in Manzini, tear gas canisters were fired, protestors were beaten up by fully armed riot police and personnel from His Majesty’s Correctional Services.’

See also


Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Teachers in Swaziland managed to deliver their petition to the government this afternoon (13 June 2102), despite being blocked by riot police.

Police stopped about 3,000 members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) marching across Mbabane city centre this morning.

They had wanted to deliver a petition for a 4.5 percent salary increase, but were stopped from doing so.

Eventually they delivered a petition to the Minister of Public Service, Magwebetane Mamba.

The teachers had wanted to march through the city centre but were stopped and eventually allowed to go on an alternative route, far away from the city centre.

The Centre for Human Rights, Swaziland, reports, ‘The march was characterised by threats of violence from security agents. Two workers were unlawfully detained by riot police, and this seemed to anger workers who retaliated by throwing stones at the police vehicles into which the two were taken. They were promptly released and the march continued.’

See also



Riot police in Swaziland blocked teachers from marching in the kingdom’s capital today (13 June 2012).

Thousands of members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) had assembled  in Mbabane to protest for a pay increase of 4.5 percent. They wanted to march across the city and deliver a petition at the offices of the Prime Minister, Barnabas Dlamini.

The Centre for Human Rights in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reports, ‘The state responded by deploying its riot squad, ordinary police officers from the Royal Swaziland Police Force and personnel from His Majesty’s Correctional Services, who formed a barrier on the main street, ensuring that no protestor penetrated through.

‘The teachers were given a deserted route as an alternative route, and they declined to use it, forcing the state police to reinforce. Workers continued to toyi-toyi on the blocked street. At the time of compiling this report, no incident had been reported, even though the mood was visibly volatile.’

Monday, June 11, 2012


After a plan for a health centre in Swaziland, backed by King Mswati III, failed to materialise, a court has ordered that two South African doctors should receive US$1.2million (R10 million) each in compensation after a contract they signed fell through.

King Mswati had promised them that R3.2 billion in donor funds would be available to build a health centre, but the money did not come. Prince Mangaliso Dlamini was project manager of the scheme.

Frans Whelpton, a professor at the University of South Africa (UNISA), convinced two medical doctors Reynhardt van Rooyen and Johannes Kok to be involved in the project.

The Pretoria News reported that the two gave up their medical practices in 2003 to devote themselves to the scheme.

Pretoria High Court was told that Whelpton told Kok about the project when he went to him for a medical check-up. He told Kok that Swaziland planned on developing the health care project and that he had been appointed to handle the implementation.

King Mswati III and his family were at that stage patients of Van Rooyen. As Whelpton knew this, he said it would be a good idea for the two doctors to become involved in the project.

The Pretoria News reported that the doctors and Whelpton met on various occasions and the professor presented the doctors with various letters, including one signed by Prince Dlamini in his capacity of project manager of the programme. This was to prove that the programme was a reality.

The doctors said they were also told that an amount of R3.2 billion was made available to Swaziland for this from certain donors funds and that this money would be deposited in Swaziland’s central bank. This was due to happen as soon as Swaziland’s new constitution was accepted by the Swaziland parliament.

The doctors said Whelpton told them that for their help in the planning and development of the programme, they would receive three percent of the amount, which worked out at R160m over a three-year period.

The doctors said the king assured them the new constitution would be accepted by March 2004, where after the donor funds would be made available.

The doctors started to wind down their medical practices in January 2004, although none of the donor funds had been paid and Swazi constitution had not been approved by parliament.

The Pretoria News reported Whelpton wanted to ensure that the doctors did not suffer financial loss while winding down their practices and suggested that he would loan each R10m. He, however, did not have the money available at the time and planned to pay them from money he was due to receive for work which he had done for the Swazi Government.

Whelpton was due to receive millions from the UN for research he had undertaken regarding the Swazi common law.

A written loan agreement was signed between the parties on January 22, 2004, in which Whelpton undertook to loan the doctors R10m each. Whelpton was not able to pay them, as he was waiting to be paid by the Swazi Government.

Judge JW Louw said it was clear that there was a binding contract between the parties and that the doctors were entitled to the amount promised to them by Whelpton in terms of the loan agreement.
See also



Opposition to next year’s national election in Swaziland is growing.

Elections are held every five years and the next is due in 2013. But, prodemocracy activists in Swaziland have been calling for a boycott. All political parties are banned and many opposition voices are silenced in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The latest call came from participants at a ‘People’s Parliament’ organised by the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations held in Manzini at the weekend.

About 2,000 people from across Swaziland agreed to campaign for an election boycott. They also want the system of government to change. At present the Swaziland Parliament has few powers. Of the 65 members of the House of Assembly, 10 are chosen by the King 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 the last Swazi 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 poll, Swaziland’s Elections and Boundaries Commission reported allegations of widespread bribery, ‘treating’, threats of violence and cases of candidates unlawfully holding voter cards.

See also



A man has died of head injuries while held in a police station in Swaziland.

He is said to have repeatedly hit his head against the wall of his cell.

Sihle Bhembe, aged 26, was taken to the old Mbabane Police Station, after becoming disturbed at his home. His family say he had a history of emotional problems.

He was kept in a holding cell at the police station for three days from last Thursday (7 June 2012). His body was discovered on Saturday morning.

Bhembe’s family told the Times of Swaziland they had been told he repeatedly hit his head against the wall. They have called for an independent pathologist to examine his body as they suspect foul play in his death. The family told the newspaper they were not called by police to examine the body after the death occurred.

They also questioned how police did not hear Bhembe banging his head against the wall, as the holding cells at the police post are close to the reception where there is an on-duty police officer. 

Friday, June 8, 2012


Teachers in Swaziland have voted to strike indefinitely from next week, almost certainly closing down schools in the kingdom.

A total of 98.7 percent of Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) members who took part in a vote opted for a strike.

The strike for a pay increase of 4.5 percent is due to start on 13 June.

A previous strike intended for 9 and 10 May had to be called off after teachers failed to vote to support it.

Principal Secretary of the Swaziland Ministry of Education and Training Pat Muir said there was little government could do about the strike if all the proper channels had been followed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Save the Children Swaziland condemned teachers for beating all the children at a school after one pupil made a noise in assembly.

It said the school violated their human rights.

The mass caning happened at Lusoti Primary School. Parents have now asked the Ministry of Education and Training to investigate.

The Times of Swaziland newspaper reports that all pupils from the first to senior grades were beaten while at assembly, even though the child who made the noise was identified.

The school’s principal, Khanyisile Shongwe, confirmed to the newspaper the incident happened.

The pupils were also reportedly made to stand under the scorching sun for an hour and ordered to sing and some pupils collapsed as a result of this.

Dumisani Mnisi, director of Save the Children Swaziland,  said the way the corporal punishment was administered was unacceptable. He said it violated the human rights of the children.

There is a long history in Swaziland of the use by teachers of unusual forms of punishment in Swazi schools.

In October 2011, Save the Children told the United Nations Human Rights Periodic Review held in Geneva that corporal punishment in Swazi schools was out of control. It highlighted Mhlatane High School in northern Swaziland where it said pupils were ‘tortured’ in the name of punishment. It said, ‘Teachers can administer as many strokes [of the cane] as they desire, much against the limit stipulated in the regulations from the Ministry of Education.’

In a separate case, girls at Mpofu High School are flogged by teachers on their bare flesh and if they resist they are chained down so the beating can continue. They say they get up to 40 strokes at a time.

In another case, a 10-year-old girl at kaLanga Nazarene Primary school was blinded for life in her left eye after a splinter from a teacher’s stick flew and struck it during punishment. And she was not the child being punished. She was injured when her teacher was hitting another pupil, with a stick which broke.

Another pupil in Swaziland was thrashed so hard that he later collapsed unconscious and had to be rushed to a clinic. Six pupils at Mafucula High school were thrashed with 20 strokes of a ‘small log’ because they were singing in class. It was reported that the boy who became unconscious was not one of those misbehaving, but he was flogged nonetheless.

The principal at Elangeni High, even publicly flogs adults who date pupils at his school. The men are forced to attend in front of the entire school, lie down on a bench and receive a whipping. The girls are also flogged.

See also


Monday, June 4, 2012


Stiffkitten blog
2 June 2012

Homophobia in Africa is ”escalating”

“The abuse is escalating. Recent cases of criminalization of same-sex relationships have worsened a situation already characterized by harassment, humiliation, extortion, arbitrary arrests, judicial violence, imprisonment, torture, hate crimes and honour killings on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity all over Africa,” says a new report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

“Over the past ten years, the focus on equal rights, law reforms, community cohesion, diversity, families and migrations for lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex (LGBTI) Africans has gone from bad to worse.”

The ILGA report gives several recommendations on how to improve the situation for African LGBTI people, including legal and policy reform to “reinforce same-sex relationships,” education programmes to “address underlying prejudices,” and promoting media training to “discourage attitudes of discrimination and stigmatisation.”

These points are particularly pressing in many African countries where homosexuality is illegal and where LGTBI people are attacked or ridiculed in the press and by politicians.

Uganda is a case in point here, due amongst other things to the internationally publicised case of David Kato, a Ugandan LGBTI-rights activist who was brutally beaten to death in 2011 after local newspaper Rolling Stone had called for him and 100 other named and depicted Ugandan gays and lesbians to be executed. “Hang them” was the title of the article.

In Swaziland, a columnist in the country’s only independent national newspaper, the Times of Swaziland, was recently allowed to write hate speech against LGBTI people.

“Homosexuality or trans-sexuality is an abomination … an evil act that must be stopped,” he wrote. “Swaziland frowns on such satanic deeds … I hate homosexuality with every fibre of hair or flesh in my body.” Fortunately there was enough outrage towards the author and the newspaper that printed his remarks from right-minded individuals and organisations to make the editor suspend the columnist.

Homosexuality is illegal in both Uganda and Swaziland, as it is in many other African countries, and carries a penalty of several years’ imprisonment.

Even South Africa has its fair share of homophobic outbursts and incidences, despite the fact that LGBTI people are protected by §9 of the South African constitution that proclaims, “the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including … sexual orientation;” that same-sex marriages have been legal since 2006; and that “homosexual people in major urban areas are fairly accepted” according to Queerlife South Africa.

President Jacob Zuma called same-sex marriages ”a disgrace to the nation and to God” in 2006 and appointed a homophobic ambassador found guilty of hate speech to Uganda in 2010. “Corrective rapes” and murder of lesbians is on the rise in the townships. And homosexuals are discriminated against employment-wise, even though the 1995 Labour Relations Act and the 1998 Employment Equity Act nominally protect homosexuals against unfair labour discrimination.

So even though being gay in a country like South Africa is preferable to being gay in Swaziland or Uganda, it is apparent that legislation is not enough to ensure equal rights in practice for LGBTI people.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Trade unionists and democracy campaigners in Swaziland are angry at an apparent attempt by the Swaziland King and his government to create a ‘puppet’ organisation to represent workers at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) meeting, presently taking place in Geneva.

News is emerging from the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, that an organisation called the Swaziland Workers Economic Empowerment Union (SWEEU) has been formed by Royalist supporters to take the place of TUCOSWA (the Trade Union Congress of  Swaziland), a trade union confederation deregistered by the government in April 2012.

Activists believe SWEEU has been created so it can attend the ILO in Geneva as Swaziland’s formal representative of workers in the kingdom.  Swazi unionists and democracy activists say TUCOSWA is the only group that should be allowed representation in Geneva. Despite the deregistration they believe TUCOSWA is the legitimate representative of Swazi workers.

The Swaziland Diaspora Platform (SDP), a prodemocracy activist group, said SWEEU made a formal application to the ILO for recognition, but it was turned down.

In a statement, SDP said it was ‘in disbelief’ that the Swazi government had tried to ensure its ‘puppet’ trade union attended the ILO conference.

In the UK, Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), said, ‘This latest risible attempt to prevent the voices of ordinary Swazis from being heard will be rejected by everyone who believes in democracy and workers’ rights.’

The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) called the SWEEU, a ‘mysterious organisation’ comprised of ‘completely unrepresentative stooges who have been in secret talks with the regime for some time’.

TUCOSWA was registered by the Swazi Government in March 2012 but deregistered within weeks after TUCOSWA announced it would be campaigning against holding the 2013 national elections, because all political parties and opposition groups are banned in Swaziland and cannot take part.