Monday, September 29, 2014


Homes have been demolished against residents’ wishes to make way for another of King Mswati III’s ‘vanity projects’.

The King wants to build a Royal Science and Innovation Park/ Biotechnology Park at Nokwane.

Residents of ten homesteads tried to get a court order to stop their homes being demolished but were told by the Attorney-General the courts were powerless and only the King himself could stop the destruction.

King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The homesteads, which were mostly stick-and-mud houses, were bulldozed on Thursday (25 September 2014). Local media reported that residents were traumatised when about 20 armed police officers forced them out and at least three residents needed hospital treatment. Some people had lived at Nokwane for at least 20 years, the Swazi Observer newspaper reported.

The newspaper reported, ‘The [police] officers, who were armed with pistols, rifles and batons moved from one homestead to another as the sheriff informed the residents of the demolitions which were to be effected in a matter of time.’

The clearance was to make way for the building of a Royal Science and Innovation Park/ Biotechnology Park. When the project was first announced in 2010 it was criticised by observers as another ‘vanity project’ for the King. It runs alongside the Sikhuphe International Airport (now renamed King Mswati III Airport) which was officially opened in March 2014 after costing at least E3 billion (US$300 million) to build. No commercial airlines have used the airport, but Swaziland Airlink, a company controlled by the Swazi Government, has been forced to abandon using Matsapha Airport and will move to Sikhuphe in October 2014.

In 2010, Moses Zungu, the Project Manager for the Royal Science and Innovation Park/ Biotechnology Park, said the first phase of the project, which would involve basic infrastructure such as roads, drainage, landscaping and other works, would cost E850 million (US$85 million). He said the first phase would start in April 2011 – more than three years ago.

No needs analysis for the development has been published, but Zungu said in 2010 the science park was the initiative of the King.

In July 2011 it was revealed that the Swazi Government had taken out a US$20 million loan to part-finance the science park. The loan, in the form of a line of credit, was from the Export-Import Bank of India.

More than seven in ten of King Mswati’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day. The kingdom has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world and earlier this year the Swazi Minister of Health Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane said there was not enough money to pay for drugs to prevent the death of children from diarrhoea in the kingdom.

See also





More than 50 trade unions and civil society organisations from across the world have joined to nominate two jailed Swaziland journalists for a human-rights award.

Bheki Makhubu, editor of The Nation magazine, and Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer and writer, are serving two-year jail sentences after writing and publishing articles critical of the Swazi judiciary.

They have been nominated for the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Award which honours exceptional individuals who peacefully promote and protect universally recognised rights.

A statement announcing the nomination said. ‘Thulani is a human rights lawyer and a pro-democracy activist who repeatedly defended political activists and trade unions in and outside the courts. He represented Mario Masuku, president of the banned opposition party, the People’s United Democratic Movement, and Sipho Jele on their pro-democracy struggles, which the state had termed treasonable. 

‘Recently, he challenged the constitutionality of the de-registration of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland at the High Court. 

‘Bheki is the editor of The Nation magazine, a monthly periodical that is one of the few independent voices in the country calling for government accountability and democratic change.’ Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The statement continued, ‘Thulani and Bheki were arrested and detained on 17 March 2014 and 18 March 2014 respectively for writing articles about the circumstances surrounding the arrest of government vehicle inspector, Bhantshana Gwebu, and the lack of integrity, impartiality and independence of the Swaziland judiciary. After a trial with numerous flaws and irregularities demonstrating a bias against them, both of them were convicted of contempt of court on 17 July 2014. However, instead of the ordinary 30-day sentence, they were sentenced to two years imprisonment on 25 July 2014, underscoring the political (and jaundiced) nature of their trial and sentence.’

The winners of the 2014 Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Award will be selected by an independent jury and announced at the occasion of the ordinary session of the Africa Commission on Human and People’s Rights in Niamey in October 2014.

Among those organisations making the nomination are: Action for Southern Africa; African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation; Afrika Kontakt Denmark; American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations; Botswana Federation of Trade Unions; Canadian Labour Congress; Central Organisation of Trade Unions Kenya; Congress of South African Trade Unions; Danish Confederation of Trade Unions; Federation Of Somali Trade Unions; International Trade Union Confederation; International Transport Workers’ Federation; Nigeria Labour Congress; Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions; Sierra Leone Labour Congress; Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations; Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders; Swaziland Lawyers for Human Rights; Trades Union Congress (GB); UNI Global Union Africa; Unifor Canada; Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Just months after the Swaziland Government said it could not afford to buy life-saving drugs to prevent Swazi children dying from diarrhoea, it has spent US$1.7 million on top of the range BMW cars for itself.

At least 40 children have died and hundreds have been hospitalised in a diarrhoea outbreak in which more than 3,000 cases have been recorded. About 680,000 doses of life-saving rotavirus vaccine could be purchased for the cost of the BMW cars, which would be enough to treat every child in the kingdom.

It was revealed at a media conference on Monday (22 September 2014) that the Swazi Government has bought 20 new BMW X5 sports utility vehicles which are to be used by government ministers and top officials.

The purchase is just another example of irresponsible spending in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

In March 2014, US$600,000 was spent on the opening ceremony for the Sikhuphe Airport which was renamed King Mswati III Airport. No commercial flights have ever flown in or out of the airport. It has been widely criticised outside of Swaziland as a vanity project for the King.

Earlier this year, the Swazi Minister of Health Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane told the Swazi Observer newspaper that distributing the vaccine was not the top priority. 

The newspaper reported, ‘The minister said the rotavirus, vaccine was expensive; therefore rolling out the immunisation programme cannot not be done overnight since “it is a process and a strong budget is needed”.’

In August 2014, Swazi Media Commentary revealed that if money were diverted from the Airport opening ceremony the Swazi Government could afford to save the lives of the kingdom’s dying children.

According to the website of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a 10-pack of one dose vials of rotavirus vaccine costs US63.96 at commercial rates. That means US$600,000 could buy 93,750 doses of vaccine. However, a World Health Organization Bulletin stated that GlaxoSmithKline has offered to provide its vaccine at US$2.50 per dose. 

At that price 680,000 doses could be purchased for the cost of the BMW cars. Typically, a child would need two doses for protection against diarrhoea.

See also



More than 30 girls were thrashed because they did not dance half naked in front of Swaziland’s King Mswati III. They were beaten so badly some needed treatment from paramedics.
The girls, described in local media as ‘maidens’, were expected to take part in a ‘Reed Dance’ at Mbangweni Royal Residence in the Shiselweni region of the kingdom.

The Shiselweni Reed Dance is a regional version of a national Reed Dance that takes place each year near the beginning of September. Girls, who are expected to be virgins, from all over the kingdom are required to take part in the event where they dance topless in front of King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Swazi media reported that at Shiselweni more than 30 girls disappeared from a camp where they were staying and did not attend the dance.

The Times of Swaziland reported, ‘Most of the girls, who were caned by their headmen, were beaten for not participating in the main event, while they left their respective homes under the pretext that they were going to the Reed Dance Ceremony.’

The newspaper added, ‘It was discovered that while the girls were being punished by the headmen, some got seriously injured as they tried to run away. Most of them were treated by paramedics, who attended to their case overnight (21 September 2014).’

The newspaper also reported that the police took one girl away who was suspected of being with a boy.

The Times reported, ‘Police officers arrived at the campsite and took the girl away to hospital for tests. 
Assistant Superintendent Khulani Mamba, Deputy Police Information and Communications Officer, confirmed the incident.

‘He said the girl was taken to a health facility in order to find out whether there was any penetration that happened over the night.

‘Mamba said medical personnel ruled out the possibility of penetration.’

See also