Swaziland Newsletter 4
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, 3 November 2011
‘CAN’T AFFORD’ RIGHTS
The Swaziland Government says it cannot give its people their human
rights because it doesn’t have the money to pay for them.
And it blames the economic meltdown in the kingdom for this.
In an extraordinary claim it goes on to say that Swaziland has a ‘small
and vulnerable’ economy that has been exposed to ‘external shocks’. This it
says, ‘had historically diminished the ability of the government to efficiently
underwrite some of the human rights that have financial implications.’
The government, handpicked by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last
absolute monarch, did not explain how, for example, abolishing the death
penalty, stopping the corporal punishment of children and given women their
rights would cost money for the government.
The excuse for not giving the Swazi people their human rights is
contained in a report from the United Nations this week.
The report is an unedited draft of the findings of the UN Human Rights
Council Universal Periodic Review into human rights in Swaziland. The review
took place on 4 October 2011.
The claims are part of the Swaziland Government’s response to criticisms
made by a number of nations about Swaziland’s poor record on human rights.
Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, then acting (now confirmed) Minister of Justice and
Constitutional Affairs, headed the Swaziland delegation at the review.
During the review, nations lined up to point out the failing in
Swaziland’s human rights record.
Here are some of the comments published in the report.
alarm by the many allegations of extra-judicial executions and tortures
committed by the security forces and stated that victims should receive
justice. It noted that there were no political parties because of existing
restrictions and that there were few private media organisations.’
‘concern at the systematic violations of freedom of assembly and association in
Swaziland, including by suppression of political parties. Norway expressed grave
concern at the reports of forceful disruptions o f peaceful marches, rallies
and protests, including through the use of violence and arbitrary detention. It
was alarmed at the extensive use of pre-trial detention, ill-treatments and
alleged torture by police custody.’
concern at the use by authorities of the law [Suppression of Terrorism Act]
2008 on the repression of terrorism, to restrict freedom of expression’.
China noted there
was ‘still presence of gender inequality’.
Swaziland to enhance women’s empowerment’.
concern at the continuing ban of political parties and the lack of democratic
space to exercise freedom of expression and association. Canada also expressed
concern at the reports of excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and
‘Swaziland retained the death penalty in its statute books. Also, freedom of
assembly and association were severely restricted.’
Ghana ‘noted the
discriminatory practices against women persisting in Swaziland. It also noted
the continuing allegations of arrest and detention following peaceful protest
Slovakia noted ‘that
there were allegations of police employing interrogation methods contravening
to constitutional provision. Slovakia expressed concern about reported
restrictions concerning the freedom of expression such as the Proscribed
Publications Act and the Suppression of Terrorism Act.’
Swaziland to take steps to reduce the high rates of chronic malnutrition and
mortality for children under-five; and to abolish the death penalty and
corporal punishment. It expressed concerns about the over-crowding and poor
conditions in prisons.’
Germany ‘noted the
restrictions in freedom of expression, in particular the Proscribed
concerned about reports of discriminatory practices against women. It asked
about the necessary measures taken to effectively ensure gender equality.’
concerned about the persistence of discrimination against women, and
restrictions to civil and political rights. Brazil encouraged Swaziland to
pursue constitutional reforms.’
The United States ‘requested how Swaziland planned to ensure
protection of freedom of assembly, association and expression. It called on
Swaziland to protect the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and
Sweden ‘noted that
domestic legislation needed to be harmonised with the 2006 Constitution and the
international human rights law. Sweden was concerned that the independence of
the National Commission for Human Rights and Public Administration was
questioned and its powers remained unclear.’
Tuesday, 1 November 2011
TEARGAS COURT PROTESTERS
1 November 2011
Swazi police 'fire
teargas' during court protest
MBABANE — Swazi police fired teargas today (1 November
2011) outside a courthouse in the capital Mbabane to disperse protesters
demanding the Supreme Court stop its work amid a strike by lawyers, a union
"The police blocked us, we resisted. They fired
teargas canisters and we scattered," Muzi Mhlanga, secretary general of
the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, told AFP.
The union is one of many that planned a four-day general
strike this week to support the striking lawyers, but were blocked from doing
so by a government court order.
Instead, about 30 union leaders gathered outside the
court as a six-member panel of international jurists began a sitting Tuesday.
Riot vehicles ringed the courthouse and armed guards were positioned outside
and inside the building.
"People are being put through criminal appeals
without representation. What is going on in there amounts to a perversion of
justice," said Zwele Jele, spokesman for the Swaziland Law Society.
"The Supreme Court is going on with or without
attorneys," Lorraine Hlophe, Registrar of the Supreme Court, confirmed.
Swaziland is among several small countries in the region
that rely on international judges to bolster its highest court, with judges
from South Africa, Zimbabwe and the United States.
Striking attorneys walked out of the first session
Tuesday saying hearings should be suspended until their labour action is
The judicial crisis was sparked in June when Swazi Chief
Justice Michael Ramodibedi suspended High Court Judge Thomas Masuku for
allegedly "insulting" King Mswati III. Masuku, seen as one of the
only critical voices in the southern African kingdom's judiciary, was fired in
Lesotho-born Ramodebedi claims the lawyers' complaints
against him motivated by xenophobia.
Civil society groups say the state of affairs is hurting
ordinary Swazis already suffering the effects of a deep financial crisis.
On Monday night, police stopped a prayer meeting in a
church in Mbabane where labour unions hoped to appeal for divine intervention
to end the crisis.
Tuesday, 1 November 2011
BREAK UP UNION VIGIL
night vigil organised by unions in the labour movement was yesterday (31
October 2011) blocked by police from taking place.
The Times of Swaziland reports
that executive members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, the
Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions and the Swaziland Federation of Labour had
to turn away disappointed after their efforts to stage a prayer at Mbabane
Lutheran Church were shot down.
The confrontation took place between 9pm and 10pm.
Police led by Hhohho Regional Commander, Richard Mngome-zulu told the
about 20 unionists gathered outside the church that such a meeting could
perpetrate violence and they had to use their discretion to prevent it.
The unions said more than 250 police and correctional services officers
SWAZILAND UNIONS CALL OFF PROTESTS
Monday, 31 October 2011
WOMEN’ HIT SWAZILAND
Positive Women, the UK-based charity set up to empower women and children in
Swaziland, flew into the kingdom yesterday (30 October 2011) for a series of
Also, follow then on Twitter here @Positive_Women
Positive Women is a UK charity set up to help empower women and children
in Swaziland. Our work focuses on growing local women led organisations,
helping to fund anti-poverty programmes, supporting social progress initiatives
and by driving their efficiency throughout their projects.
Positive Women began after two inspiring women met at Make Poverty History.
These women shared a similar vision -- to find new ways to support locally run
women's organisations in places where a lack of women's rights seriously damage
the ability of women to create income and protect themselves against disease
and violence. Siphiwe Hlophe and Kathryn Llewellyn saw huge potential to
develop the work that they had both begun -- The Children of Swaziland and
Swaziland Positive Living, and so pioneered Positive Women as an innovative and
forward-thinking project that reaches all eight of the Millennium Development
SWAZI WOMEN LEAD THE HIV STRUGGLE
Saturday, 29 October 2011
SWAZI JUDICIAL CRISIS
27 October 2011
The following is an
extract from the OSISA statement to the 50th Session of the African Commission
on Human and Peoples' Rights, October 2011, Banjul, The Gambia
Swaziland is a country with an absolute Monarchy
presiding over a regime that has mismanaged state resources and rendered the
nation virtually bankrupt and insolvent.
The plight of the citizens of Swaziland was brought to
the attention of the Commission during its 49th session. Our statement focused
on lack access to justice, erosion of the respect rule of law, abuse of human
rights, rampant and endemic corrupt, assault on freedom of press, association,
and speech amongst other abuses that are an affront to the African Charter on
Human and Peoples' Rights.
As you may be aware, since 1 August 2011, members of the
Law Society of Swaziland have been boycotting all the courts in Swaziland. The
boycott of the courts seeks to highlight the subversion of the principle of
judicial independence and rule of law in the country. The genesis of the
boycott lies in a number of actions by the Government, the Judicial Service
Commission and the Chief Justice of Swaziland the effect of which is the denial
of citizens' constitutional right to approach the courts, and the introduction
of institutional bias in the allocation and determination of matters before the
For instance, Practice Direction 4 of 2011, the country's
Chief Justice banned all summons/applications citing the name of the King or
the Office of the King, directly or indirectly rendering the Monarch above the
law. The Law Society is also aggrieved with the decision of the Judicial
Service Commission - of which the Chief Justice is the chairperson - to refuse
to accept a petition drawn by the Law Society against the Chief Justice.
As a consequence of the non-functioning of the courts,
citizens of Swaziland have been deprived of their constitutional right to
judicial redress. Criminal prosecutions which are at the instance of the State
have continued albeit accused persons are being denied their constitutional
right to legal representation as a consequence of the absence of defence
This has given rise to the conviction and imprisonment of
unrepresented accused persons, itself a fundamental violation of their human
rights. The Government has increased its suppression of citizens' rights, on
the strength that people cannot obtain any judicial redress or injunctions
against the state for any violations.
Given that an independent and functioning judiciary is
essential to the functioning of any State, we consider the absence of a proper
functioning judiciary system as a gross violation of the rights of the citizens
Together with the Law Society of Swaziland, which has
lodged a formal complaint to the African Commission on Human and Peoples'
Rights against the Kingdom of Swaziland in terms of Article 55 of the African
Charter, we request the Commission to urgently undertake a promotional mission
to Swaziland, to investigate the factors and issues giving rise to the
prevailing judicial crisis.
SWAZI MEDIA COMMENTARY