New recruits to Swaziland’s army paid ‘hefty bribes’ for their places, according to a newspaper report.
This follows an outrage in April 2017 when about 40 new recruits were expelled from the army because they had cheated on entry tests.
The Observer on Saturday reported (7 October 2017) that new recruits started arriving at Mbuluzi army barracks last week to join the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) as the army is officially known.
The newspaper reported sources revealed recruits paid between E40,000 and E50,000 ‘just to bribe some top army officials to allow them into the army’. In Swaziland, seven in ten people are so poor they have incomes of less than E28 per day.
The newspaper added, ‘Such exploitations on people that merely want to put food on the table for their families have in most forums been seen to be exacerbated by the country’s high unemployment rate.’
A USDF spokesperson denied bribery had taken place.
In April 2017 corruption during army recruitment was exposed by both of Swaziland’s two daily newspapers. Again allegations were that top army officers were bribed. Families were reported to have sold livestock and other belongings to get their men in uniform. Those who were said to have made the bribes were expelled.
The Swazi News reported (29 April 2017) that corrupt practices had been known about for several years, but this was the first time that recruits had been expelled.
The Times of Swaziland reported that about 40 recruits were expelled when they failed to prove they used the legal route to be recruited into the military.
The Swazi Observer reported the army said action was taken following complaints from throughout Swaziland ‘about abnormalities which happened during the recruitment exercises’.
In February 2017, during the recruitment drive it was reported that several men who tried to cheat during exercises were tortured by army personnel. The Army was recruiting 495 additional soldiers from across the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
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