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Swaziland Newsletter No. 498

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  • Richard Rooney
    SwazilandNewsletter No. 498 – 6 October 2017 Newsfrom and about Swaziland, compiled by Africa Contact, Denmark (www.afrika.dk)in collaboration with Swazi
    Message 1 of 1 , 6 Oct
      Swaziland Newsletter No. 498 – 6 October 2017
      News 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.
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      Swaziland still a secretive state
      Swazi Media Commentary, 5 October 2017
      Swaziland government ministries and public institutions remain unwilling to share information about their activities, a new report reveals.
      The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) named the Ministry of Home Affairs as the worst offender among many. None of the departments and institutions surveyed had a good record.

      MISA surveyed eight entities. In a report called Transparency Assessment 2017 The Citizens’ Analysis of Government Openness it concluded, ‘There is still a lot of reluctance from officials responsible for providing public information to both members of the public and media practitioners.

      ‘Worse still, there are no clear lines of communication in most of these public institutions. Government ministries have hired information or communication officers but these public officers are paid for doing little in terms of providing information; they do not have the authority to respond to the queries brought to them. Only the Principal Secretaries in the government ministries are authorised to respond to the questions directed at the ministries.’

      MISA added, ‘Information on the officials designated to liaise with the public and the media is not even communicated through the websites. The situation is the same in public institutions—they do not have officials designated to provide information to information seekers.’

      MISA said Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, needs a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill to encourage public institutions to release information to the public and media.

      It added, ‘The study results underscore the need for easing access to public information. It is high time that public institutions go an extra mile and prioritise information dissemination to the public and through the media. Government ministries should give the information and communication officers the authority to communicate information to the public and media because access to information is key to social, economic, political and cultural development.’

      The survey is conducted annually and MISA said results of the 2017 study were little different from those of the previous years.

      In 2007, the Swazi Parliament issued a draft bill on freedom of information. The first objective of this bill was to ‘Encourage a culture of openness, transparency and accountability in public bodies by providing for access to information held by these bodies in order to enable every citizen to fully exercise and protect their constitutional right of freedom of expression.’

      To date the Bill has not been passed.

      In its 2017 report, MISA said, ‘Swazi citizens continue to be deprived of critical information through the lack of a right to access public information. This state of affairs is in gross violation of Article 24 of the Constitution which states that a person has the “freedom to receive ideas and information”.

      MISA Swaziland has mounted an access to information campaign in a strong bid to push for the passage of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill into law.’
      See also


      Worker put in oven as punishment
      Swazi Media Commentary, 4 October 2017
      A bakery worker in Swaziland was put in a bread oven for an hour by his supervisor after he fell asleep on the job, a newspaper in the kingdom reported.

      The alleged incident happened at Prime Bakery, Mbabane, according to the Swazi Observer on Wednesday (4 October 2017). It said the employee had been found sleeping on the job during a night shift and a week later during a day shift he was put in the oven as punishment.
      The man, who asked for his name to be withheld, reportedly said, ‘It is true that I was questioned inside the oven by my supervisors for sleeping at work. I don’t want to get into the details of the matter but I have never felt so much heat in my life.’

      The Observer added, ‘Other employees interviewed confirmed the incident and expressed how stunned they were.’

      Muaaz Mansur, a director of the company told the newspaper, ‘I doubt something of this nature occurred as it is plain cruel and I don’t want to believe all my supervisors would let something like this happen.’

      This treatment of a worker in Swaziland is not unique. In July 2016, two junior workers at a KFC [Kentucky Fried Chicken] fast-food outlet in Manzini were locked in a walk-in freezer by two of their managers. They were released after an hour by fellow workers who heard screams for help.  The matter was reported to the Commission of Labour under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the two managers were eventually transferred to other branches of KFC after disciplinary hearings.

      See also

      Armed police enter college campuses
      Swazi Media Commentary, 4 October 2017
      Armed police once again entered college campuses in Swaziland as students across the kingdom boycotted classes in protest against unpaid government allowances and poor educational standards.

      On Monday (2 October 2017) a police officer was badly injured when a stun grenade he held exploded in his hand.

      Police were at the kingdom’s state university, the University of Swaziland (UNISWA); the private university, Limkokwing; and also at the William Pitcher teacher training college.

      Campuses have been closed and reopened across Swaziland several times since the semester began nearly two months ago. The Government had promised to pay all allowances by the end of September but this had not been done. Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is in financial crisis. Bills to suppliers remain unpaid and government health facilities have run out of drugs.

      At UNISWA, which reopened after the administration sent students home following a class boycott, students were told that the mid-semester break and reading week had been cancelled in order to make up for lost time. The university has banned the Student Representative Council (SRC) from holding meetings.

      The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday (3 October 2017), ‘Sakhile Ndzimandze who is the Secretary General for the dissolved SRC informed students about the latest develo

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