Swaziland Newsletter 24 June 2011
News from and about Swaziland, compiled by Africa Contact (Denmark) in collaboration with Swazi Media Commentary (www.swazimedia.blogspot.com), and sent to all with an interest in Swaziland - free of charge.
Thursday, 23 June 2011
The African Development Bank (ADB) has delayed a loan to Swaziland until the kingdom enforces greater economic discipline.
The Wall Street Journal newspaper today (23 June 2011) reports Donald Kaberuka, the president of the bank, saying, ‘The numbers are quite bad. They were supposed to meet income tax in June and didn't; they were supposed to hold a certain amount of reserves and didn't; they were supposed to act on their wage bills, and they haven't—and for me, those are quite important issues.
The Swaziland Government had hoped to get a loan of US$150 million to help it get through the next few months while it got its economic house in order. Without the loan it will find it hard to pay public service salaries.
Thursday, 23 June 2011
Nurses in Swaziland who went on strike in March 2011 to force the government to pay them overdue wages and allowances are being victimised by employers.
Nurses have been forced to attend disciplinary hearings and accused of engaging in an ‘illegal strike’.
Public hospitals were closed during the strike and the nurses’ action made news all the way across the world.
The order by management came after the nurses held their own mass meeting two weeks ago, where they resolved not to attend the hearings, media in Swaziland report.
In March, police armed with rifles and batons tried to stop 400 peacefully marching nurses from protesting.
In May 2011, nurses mounted a daily picket to draw attention to the poor level of services available at public hospitals.
Thursday, 23 June 2011
In Swaziland it is now considered seditious to know how much King Mswati III and his Royal Family cost his subjects.
An article I wrote for Swazi media Commentary detailing how much of the Swaziland national budget was going to the king was confiscated from journalist, trade unionist and human rights activist Manqoba Nxumalo when police raided his home and arrested him yesterday (22 June 2011).
Nxumalo reports that police said the article was ‘seditious’ and demanded to know who I was and where I could be found.
Of course, King Mswati doesn’t want his subjects to know that in February 2011 at the last budget he was given a 23 percent INCREASE in his budget when most government departments were forced to take 20 percent CUTS.
The king also doesn’t want it widely known that Forbes in 2009 estimated he had a personal fortune worth US$200 million (about E1.3 billion at present exchange rates).
But the police and other members of the state apparatus can’t keep this information from the Swazi people. The Nation, an independent monthly magazine in Swaziland has also published a number of articles in recent years about the cost of the Royal family and the lavish spending of King Mswati.
HELD ACTIVIST ‘TARNISHED SWAZILAND’
KING GETS MORE, HIS SUBJECTS LESS
NO MONEY FOR AIDS BUT THE KING’S OK
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Despite denials from the Swaziland Government it is now been admitted that King Mswati III has asked South Africa for money to bail out his bankrupt kingdom.
Bloomberg financial news agency reports today (22 June 2011) that South Africa’s National Treasury is ‘dealing with’ a request for help from Swaziland. Swaziland may not have money to pay its public servants.
It quotes Jerry Matjila, the director-general of South Africa’s international relations department, saying a request has been made and it is being considered.
Matjila told a group of lawyers in Cape Town that South Africa risked an inflow of immigrants from Swaziland if the Swazi Government’s financial crisis is not resolved.
He told them, ‘The question is how much we can help. We want a stable continent. We start with our neighbors.’
It was widely reported earlier this month (June 2011) that King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, had sought a meeting with Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, to personally ask for a loan for his kingdom of E10 billion (about US$1 billion).
It was reported that Zuma demanded that King Mswati allow political parties in his kingdom and that he personally kept out of politics. The king refused to accept these conditions and the meeting did not take place.
The Swaziland Government later denied that any approach had been made by Swaziland to South Africa for financial assistance. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, was forced to make a humiliating public apology to the king after it published a report that had previously appeared in the Southern Africa Report giving details of the required loan.
Matjila’s comments today seem to show that that the Swaziland Government and the king’s denials were lies.
Swaziland is expecting a decision any day now on an application for a loan of US$100 million it has made to the African Development Bank.
SWAZI KING PLEADS WITH PRETORIA
KING REFUSES LOAN CONDITIONS
‘OBSERVER’ BOWS DOWN TO SWAZI KING
SWAZI MEDIA COMMENTARY
- Swaziland Newsletter No. 285 – 18 January 2013News from and about Swaziland, compiled by Africa Contact, Denmark (www.afrika.dk) in collaboration with Swazi Media Commentary (www.swazimedia.blogspot.com), and sent to all with an interest in Swaziland - free of charge.To subscribe mail to: SAK-Swazinewsletter-subscribe@...To unsubscribe mail to: SAK-Swazinewsletter-unsubscribe@...Thursday, 17 January 2013The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) has criticized traditionalists in the kingdom who insist that underage girls can be made to marry.The group says most of these so-called marriages are forced on the girl and sometimes it happens after she has been raped or fallen pregnant.SWAGAA was reacting after media reported King Mswati III’s right-hand man Timothy Velabo (TV) Mtetwa said it was acceptable for girls aged 15 to take part in traditional marriage known as kwendzisa if their parents agreed and the child wanted to.Mtetwa said this knowing that in 2012 the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act was passed in Swaziland which made it illegal to engage in sexual relationships with girls under the age of 18.In September 2012, he was reported saying traditionalists would apply for a review of the Act if it was felt to collide with Swazi customs and traditions.Mtetwa, who is Ludzidzini Governor and popularly known as the ‘traditional prime minister’ of Swaziland, is considered in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, to be the ultimate authority on traditional law and custom in the kingdom.SWAGAA, in a media statement, said, ‘What is most disturbing is the fact that most of these “marriages” are forced, with the young girls having little or no say in being married to much older men.‘The situation is often forced because the family wants to receive payment and if sexual relations have occurred (usually forced upon the girl), the family wants to save face. We have seen tragic stories in the newspaper recently involving these types of marriages, from girls being forced to marry after being raped, to getting pregnant and dropping out of school, to attempting suicide.’It added, ‘What these young girls are enduring in the name of “traditional marriage” is a human rights violation. Swaziland has signed the Human Rights Declaration and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Children’s Protection and Welfare Act of 2012 received assent from King Mswati III to protect the lives and dignity of all children in Swaziland.‘Protecting young Swazi girls from traditional marriages that they don’t want is a matter of principle. It is not a complicated legal issue; it is simply a matter of upholding human rights and Swazi law.’SWAGAA added that international conventions stated, ‘Where one of the parties getting married is under 18, consent cannot always be assumed to be “free and full”’.SWAGAA said there were a number of ‘negative’ reasons why girls were forced into traditional marriages, ‘such as the importance attributed to preserving family “honour” usually where the girl child has fallen pregnant before marriage or whilst at school.‘There is a belief that marriage safeguards against “immoral” or “inappropriate behavior” which results in parents pushing their daughters into marriage well before they are ready. A lot of it, though, is due to the failure to enforce laws. Sometimes families are not even aware they are breaking the law.’See alsoKING’S MAN SUPPORTS CHILD BRIDESWednesday, 16 January 2013Opponents of Swaziland’s non-democratic national poll this year could face a charge of treason and the death penalty, a senior election official said.Many prodemocracy groups and individuals are campaigning for a boycott of the election because political parties are banned in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, and the parliament has no real powers.Mzwandile Fakudze, deputy chair of the Elections Boundaries Commission (EBC), told the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, those who seek to stand in the way of elections, which is tantamount to treason, will face the wrath of the law.The newspaper quoted him saying, ‘Committing the offence of treason entails when a person subverts or shows potential to subvert the activities of the state even if it is without the use of arms, weapons or military equipment.’
People convicted of treason in Swaziland face the death penalty.He was supported by EBC chair Prince Gija who said those who sought to sabotage the election would face the wrath of the law.Fakudze said the betrayal of one’s own country by waging war against it or by consciously opposing or purposely acting to aid its enemies, amounted to the crime of treason.The Observer defined treason as ‘the violation by a subject of allegiance to the state’.Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Principal Secretary Thembinkosi Mamba told the newspaper in terms of the law, whoever threatened to cause a disarray towards the state and where his / her intentions caused one to believe that there would be such a disarray, they would have to answer to the courts why they should not be charged with the crime of treason.Swazi Police Deputy Public Relations Officer Inspector Khulani Mamba said threats to the state were not taken lightly, especially if such threats were of intent to sabotage national elections because then it becomes the country’s security concern.‘We will be watching closely at such purported actions but will not divulge our reaction plan as it is a concern of security,’ he said.See alsoOPPOSITION TO SWAZI ELECTIONS GROWSSWAZI UNION TO BOYCOTT ELECTIONSWednesday, 16 January 2013News that Swaziland’s autocratic ruler King Mswati III wants the kingdom’s constitution amended so that things he has done illegally in the past become legal will surprise no one who observes the way he operates.In particular, the king illegally appointed Barnabas Dlamini Prime Minister in 2008. The constitution states the PM must be a member of the Swazi Senate, but Dlamini was not.The Times Sunday newspaper in Swaziland reported the amendments would ‘incorporate, among other things; prerogatives of His Majesty the King, which were mistakenly omitted’.Who says they were ‘mistakenly omitted’ is not reported by the newspaper.Prince Guduza, Speaker in the House of Assembly, told the newspaper there were moves afoot to amend the constitution, but he would not be drawn on which parts.The newspaper reported the Prince ‘said he would not disclose the provisions that should be amended. He hinted though that those provisions were political in nature.’Observers of Swaziland’s recent history know that the constitution of 2005 is not worth the paper it is written on. The king chooses to ignore it whenever he wishes.The most recent and most stark example of this happened in October 2012 when the House of Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence in the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. According to the constitution the king was obliged to sack the government (he had no discretion in the matter).However, King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, ignored the vote. Instead, through his traditional structures he put pressure on the House to re-run the vote, this time ensuring it did not pass and the government survived.Many organisations have called for Swaziland’s constitution to be rewritten in the past, but their intentions were to make the kingdom more democratic, not less.In July 2008, the European Union declined an invitation to monitor the Swaziland national election because, it said, it was clear the kingdom was not a democracy. Later, it suggested a wholesale review of the constitution was in order.In November 2008, the Commonwealth Expert Team, which had monitored the election called for a review because the elections were not credible since political parties were banned in Swaziland.
It said that the review ‘should be carried out through a process of full consultation with Swazi political organisations and civil society (possibly with the support of constitutional experts).’There was very little credibility in the way in which the constitution was originally drawn up. King Mswati invited the International Bar Association (IBA) to review the first draft of the constitution and the IBA’s verdict was damning.