Swaziland Newsletter 50
- Swaziland Newsletter 50
Published by Southern Africa Contact (Denmark)
Earlier issues can be read at
http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/SAK-Swazinewsletter together with
documents and other materials not included in the regular newsletter. If
you wish to subscribe to the newsletter, please send mail to:
See photo section on the land, life and struggle of the Swazi people.
All correspondence to sak@...
1. King has eyes for 14th wife, http://www.iol.co.za, 3. September 2007
Media, Protocol Officers clash, http://www.observer.org.sz, 4.
2. The elderly have no time to retire, http://allafrica.com, 28. August 2007
3. Only $3.1 million to feed 400000, www.reliefweb.int, 29. August 2007
4. SBS' ploughs back E44 000 to OVC, http://www.observer.org.sz, 3.
5. Bring Aids infection to zero percent, http://www.observer.org.sz, 3.
6. Swazis still shun local products, http://www.observer.org.sz, 3.
7. SADC customs union is on slow track – Manuel,
http://www.busrep.co.za, 30. August 2007
8. SA's plans to reduce import tariffs, http://www.observer.org.sz, 3.
9. Swaziland’s king rejects criticism of political, economic policies,
http://www.iht.com, 7. August 2007
10. Swazis strike for multi-party democracy, http://www.int.iol.co.za,
25. July 2007
11. Report on the Assessment of Neighbourhood Care Points. Swaziland
1. King has eyes for 14th wife
Lobomba - Tens of thousands of bare-breasted virgins lined up for
inspection by King Mswati III on Sunday in Swaziland's annual reed
dance, which is always rife with speculation over whether the king will
choose a new bride.
The event is an important fixture in the cultural calendar of this
deeply traditional southern African kingdom of around one million people
and is held in honour of the Swazi queen mother.
But the 39-year-old king, who already has 13 wives, also sometimes
controversially uses the occasion to select a new bride.
Participation in this year's dance was thought to be up on previous
years with some reports putting at up to 40 000 the number of girls who
converged on the royal residence at Ludzidzini, 25km south of the Swazi
The festival kicked off on Wednesday when the girls were dispatched by
the king to cut reeds on a nearby river bank and ends on Monday with a
In the absence of shower blocks, some girls had to wash in a river
before lining up in their "regiments" to present the reeds to the queen
mother and file past the king.
The monarch was clad in a leopard-skin loincloth worn over a wrap skirt
indicating his clan and carried a traditional arrow-shaped axe for the
In searing 35-degree-Celsius temperatures, the girls then re-assembled
on an open plain in front of the kraal, known as the "arena", to dance
in front of the king, his retinue and thousands of tourists.
Visitors from Australia, the United States and Britain were among the
spectators, who were under strict instructions not to wear hats, point
Among the king's guests were Zambian King Levy Mwanawasa and South
Africa's ANC deputy president and ANC presidential candidate Jacob Zuma.
As part of the celebrations dozens of cattle were slaughtered and their
hides hung to dry on the walls of the kraal, giving off a powerful
stench in the hot sun.
The reeds collected by the girls are used as a wind breaker in huts and
fences. - Sapa-dpa
Media, Protocol Officers
MEMBERS of the media and protocol officers in the reed dance yesterday
almost engaged in a major showdown after members of the fourth estate
expressed their disappointment in the manner in which the protocol
officers were treating them.
The international media, including journalists from France, Belgium, the
United Kingdom, Taiwan and other European media houses as well as
journalists from the South African media including SABC, the Sunday
Times, Beeld newspaper and other media houses were present at the reed
Confusion was the order of the day at the dancing arena as some of the
protocol officers constantly demanded that the journalists move from
where they were standing to give way to some of the spectators who
wanted to pass through and have a seat in the arena. However, some of
the journalists wondered why they were being moved around because there
was obviously plenty of space where other spectators could easily pass
through. At first, journalists took the stiff orders they received that
they move away, but they later refused to budge as they felt that they
were taken for a ride. One of the protocol officers was heard shouting:
“yeyi nine asenisuke lapho kani niva njani senifuna kusetjentiswe
emandla yini” loosely translated to “you guys move from where you are
seated don’t you understand, do you want force to be used on you
eventually.” However, one of the brave journalists from a South African
newspaper who had had enough of the nagging from the protocol officers
shouted back and said “bese sisebenza njani? njengoba nawe usemsebenzini
nathi sisemsebenzini kanjalo sicolele bakwethu” loosely translated to
“how do you expect us to work, in as much you have been assigned to work
we are also at work so please give us a break.”
However tempers eventually cooled down when one of the protocol officers
later came to the journalists and informed them that they should prepare
themselves because His Majesty King Mswati III would come and pose for a
picture and that the journalists should calm down because they would all
be awarded the opportunity of taking the King’s picture.
Meanwhile, the King and his guests before doing the giya dance in front
of the maidens came down to where the journalists were standing and
posed for a picture much to the satisfaction of the journalists.
Meanwhile, attempts of preventing journalists from carrying a footage of
the King doing the giya dance in front of the maidens proved futile as
the journalists persisted and made their way through to get a coverage
of the King. “The protocol officers here are just too rigid, don’t they
understand that the reed dance has gained popularity around the globe
and that people out there are eager to see what really happens in the
reed dance,” wondered one of the disgruntled scribes adding that it was
high time Swazi protocol officers respected the media if they expected
respect in return.
“You guys I am honestly in love with the Swazi culture, the people,
landscape and the warm hospitality everywhere else in the country has
really impressed me, but you can’t tell me that journalists are being
given this kind of treatment,” remarked one of the scribes.
2. The elderly have no time to retire
At a time when Swaziland's elderly are taking on an increasingly vital
role as household heads or caregivers to AIDS orphans, they often slip
through the nets of humanitarian organisations, and government stipends
are too small to cover basic needs.
"The elderly are rife for exploitation, and they are being exploited by
a society that requires them to do demanding work, regardless of their
age or infirmities," said Thandi Maphalala, a social welfare worker in
the commercial city of Manzini, 35km southeast of the Swazi capital,
Although relatively few Swazis know their HIV status, more than a
quarter of all sexually active people are infected with HIV, and life
expectancy has dropped to 31 years.
Largely due to HIV/AIDS, the number of orphans has skyrocketed since
2000, reaching 100,000, according to the United Nations Children's
Agency (UNICEF). "The crisis is likely to worsen, as HIV prevalence
rates among 20-to-30-year-olds are approaching 50 percent."
Taking care of an AIDS patient is extremely difficult. On top of that,
the elderly now have to run a household - that means they must go to
some distant spot to fetch water and firewood; they must cook, clean and
About 15 percent of Swaziland's one million people are older than 49,
and 3.4 percent are 65 or older. People who have lived beyond 49 -
statistically the upper cut-off point for the "sexually active"
demographic - are mostly free of HIV.
Rather than being supported by their grown children, which has been the
cultural norm in Swaziland, the elderly are now required to nurse their
"Taking care of an AIDS patient is extremely difficult. On top of that,
the elderly now have to run a household - that means they must go to
some distant spot to fetch water and firewood; they must cook, clean and
raise grandchildren," said Maphalala. "All this comes at a time when
they should be slowing down and enjoying their golden years."
Rev Jabulani Dlamini, who works in the Luve area, 60km north of Manzini,
often drops in on his elderly parishioners to give them moral support
and provide donations of food and other essentials.
"These good people went through all the work of raising children. Now,
with the AIDS-related deaths, they must do it all over again and raise
their children's children, who may also be infected by HIV. Who gives
them assistance, other than a little charity? And that is not enough."
Dlamini noted that the days when the extended family lived together in a
single multi-generational homestead had gone. About 80 percent of Swazis
still live in rural areas, but families have been fragmented into
"There is no one to look after these good people. How many times have I
found a granny sitting in the dark because there is no candle, and
hungry because there is no food, and dirty because she is too weak to
fetch water?" he asked.
When the government finally raised monthly stipends for the elderly from
US$12 to $15 earlier this year, the increment came just as food prices
were spiraling beyond affordability.
A 10kg bag of maizemeal, barely enough to feed a family of four for a
month, now costs almost $6, while two litres of cooking oil costs about
$3. In an ongoing drought the country recorded its worst-ever harvest
this year, and about 40 percent of Swaziland's population is facing
acute food and water shortages.
Some food aid
A record number of households receive food assistance from agencies like
the World Food Programme. Humanitarian aid workers said there were no
reports of widespread starvation in the country but, indisputably, there
was hunger and suffering.
"My grandchildren are fed, they are even well-fed, at school or at the
neighbourhood Care Point [funded by the UN Children's Agency, UNICEF].
It is only one meal a day, and only five days a week, but it is godsend
for them," said Gogo (Granny) Tsela, who lives in a stick-and-mud shack
"But no one prepares meals for the elderly. I am at home with my little
bit of porridge, if I am lucky enough to have that." A black iron pot of
white maizemeal porridge was cooking over an open fire in her yard,
augmented by wild spinach that had managed to survive the drought.
Every fortnight Tsela receives maizemeal, cooking oil and beans from the
local food aid distribution point, which she shares with her two
granddaughters, the children of her deceased daughter. Their father has
left the family.
Like many other elderly people, she has no cash support other than her
small monthly allowance from the government, which arrives erratically
and often requires a long, expensive and bus trip to fetch.
The government subsidises four urban hospitals and a network of rural
clinics but user fees are still required, and medication must be
purchased. Although medicines come at a reduced price, chronic shortages
often make them unavailable. This means they have to be bought at
commercial pharmacies, where the prices are mostly unaffordable.
Formal-sector employment stands at 27 percent and pensions are not
always guaranteed. "Don't talk about pensions; only a few people have
pensions," said Amos Shabangu, a retired bus driver. He received no
compensation after leaving his job because his employer lied to him when
he said he had paid into a national provident fund in Shabangu's name.
A farm revisited
When IRIN visited another grandmother in similar circumstances, Gogo
Nhlabatsi, in April, she was all alone on her isolated farm near Manzini
and very worried about how she would support five grandchildren, aged 7
The recent rain had come too late to save the stunted maize crop. "There
is nothing, nothing," she said, gazing bleakly over the withered brown
Desperation led Nhlabatsi and her grandchildren to comb through every
metre of field, salvaging whatever they could. The dwarfed cobs yielded
only a few bags of kernels, but every little bit helped.
It was a struggle Nhlabatsi had not expected to endure so late in life.
"I will find rest in my grave," she said.
3. Only $3.1 million to feed 400000
Despite the worst harvest in the country's recorded history and the
aftermath of fires that destroyed crops and plantations, Swaziland's
appeals for international assistance are falling on deaf donor ears.
In July UN agencies appealed for US$18 million to feed about 40 percent
of Swaziland's one million people, who are facing acute food shortages.
So far, only $3.1 million has been forthcoming, according to the UN
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
"The low funding of the appeal is extremely worrying. The food reserves
that people have been living off of will begin to run out in September,
and it is very likely that many households will have eaten the seeds
they would have planted in the coming agricultural season, thus
prolonging their situation of food insecurity," Kelly David, head the
OCHA Southern African regional office, told IRIN.
"Without assistance, there is no question that people will be facing
serious food shortages in the coming month [September]."
To date, funding for relief aid by the World Food Programme has received
roughly $1.6 million; the promotion of self-feeding schemes like
backyard and community gardens, just over $1.5 million.
Are donors drained by drought?
"Swaziland has experienced chronic drought for at least 15 years," said
Chinwe Dike, Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme
(UNDP), explaining why some donors have been less than prompt with funding.
"An important issue arising from this is that the challenge of drought
has always been addressed as an emergency, and no long-term or
development approaches have been adopted in addressing chronic drought,"
David agreed: "I think donors want to see more clarity on how
governments and their partners plan to address the underlying structural
problems related to drought. Both donors and responders are fully aware
that a once-off humanitarian response will protect lives and help some
recover their livelihoods in the immediate term, but is not going to
change the long-term situation of the affected population."
But the lack of rain this year has been described as the worst in living
memory. "The drought in 2007 has become an emergency and has been
declared as a national disaster because, unlike in the past, the
Highveld, which is normally considered the breadbasket of the country,
was also affected," Dike told IRIN.
The fires that raged through the country in early August had added to
the mountain kingdom's woes, she said. "These events were also declared
a disaster by the government because of the devastating impact on the
forestry industry, and the loss of homes, livestock and livelihoods."
An underestimated bad situation made worse
The drought and the fires have compounded the vulnerability of people
already struggling to get by. Despite being classified as a
middle-income country, the government estimates that two-thirds of the
population earn less than a dollar a day.
This classification, some observers feel, takes Swaziland out of the
donor spotlight. The UN appealed for $18.9 million to feed more than
500,000 drought-affected rural people in impoverished neighbouring
Lesotho, and has already received 60 percent of the funding.
"That represents cash already in hand or in the pipeline. By comparison,
the Swaziland appeal is only 17 percent funded, and the vast majority of
that money was provided through a central fund for humanitarian
assistance managed by OCHA, rather than by individual donors responding
to the appeal," Kelly said.
As Dike pointed out, "It is important to note that although Swaziland is
classified as a middle income country, most of its human development
indicators are those of a LDC [least developed country]." Wealth is
highly skewed and poverty in the rural areas is widespread.
At 0.609, Swaziland has one of the highest Gini Coefficients in the
world, according to the UNDP. The Gini coefficient uses a measurement
between 0 and 1 to determine income distribution - the closer to 1, the
more unequal a society; the closer to 0, the more equal a society.
"These disasters have taken place within the context of a country
ravaged by HIV/AIDS. Swaziland has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate
globally: the most recent population base prevalence rate is 26 percent
of the entire population," Dike said.
"The stresses and strains of these events manifest in increased
incidences of gender-based violence, crime and increased child
abandonment and child abuse."
4. SBS' ploughs back E44 000 to OVC
THE Swaziland Building Society has committed E50 000 to the school fee
challenge promotion to aid schools’ orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC).
The schools were identified Thulwane Primary, Ekuphakameni high, Mater
Dorolosa High and the School For The Deaf.
They all share E44 000, with each school getting E11 000.
Petros Shongwe, Building Society Operations Manager said the school fee
challenge competition was the bank’s way of ploughing back to the
society as well as contributing to the improvement of the economy
“As the whole country and its economy are facing huge challenges in
various sectors, we feel our contribution will go a long way towards
easing some of those burdens.
“A lot of the young children today are facing major challenges as a
result of HIV and AIDS, so it is our collective responsibility to share
the little we have with our neighbours,” he said.
He observed that Swaziland was facing an uphill battle against
unemployment, which in turn is lays a heavy burden on government as she
left with a limited revenue base.
Swaziland Building Society General Manager Timothy Nhleko said it would
be a win-win situation for both the families and pupils to benefit and
“The families as well as the whole Swazi nation will reap the rewards,
as this is an investment in the future”.
NEW branch for Siteki
Siteki residents and surrounding areas can look forward to the opening
of a new Building Society branch before the end of next year.
The branch will be opened at Siteki, due to the good relations The
Swaziland Building Society has with the School For The Deaf, which was
one of the winners in the School Fee Challenge promotion.
Building society’s Timothy Nhleko said they were just finishing up on
the minor details.
“Construction will commence soon. We are glad to announce this, as we
will now have an even representation in all four districts in the
country,” he said.
The Lubombo district was the only one that did not have a Building
Society branch of the country.
Businessman gets refunded for OVC’s school fees
Sibusiso Dlamini, Managing Director of Skhumba China car wash was the
winner in the refund of school fees category.
He got back E1672 in cash, which he had paid for a needy pupil of SOS in
Dlamini said he would use the money to pay the same child’s school fees
for the next academic year.
The businessman also helps another needy pupil who attends at Jubukweni
5. Bring Aids infection to zero percent
THE country has the capacity to stop HIV and AIDS.
This was an observation made by Senior Vice President for Health in the
Anglo American Group, Dr. Brian Brink, during a breakfast meeting hosted
by BCHA and the Global Business Coalition on HIV, Tubercu-losis and
Dr. Brink said instruments and all necessary policies were in place, but
what was lacking was only the will to implement all necessary steps
He stressed that it was possible to have all statistics about the
pandemic coming down to zero, which will mean victory over the epidemic
by the country.
“Swaziland can beat AIDS and stop HIV infection. The devastating
consequences of HIV and AIDS in our communities are visible for all to
see but we can beat it. The tools are all there to deal with the
pandemic but what is now needed is the will to move forward to
implementation,” he added.
Dr. Brink mentioned that people always believe that money is needed to
fight HIV. He said if the country organised its plan and involved more
partners, even international donors would want to lend a helping hand.
He assured that money would always be there for projects aimed at
fighting the pandemic if the situation on the ground could be correctly
Dr. Brink said there was need to expand HIV testing and counselling
services for the public.
He encouraged the business community to adopt what he termed the zero
target, which is his theory towards combating HIV and AIDS.
“We can achieve a zero outcome on new infections, zero people getting
sick or dying of AIDS and zero babies born with HIV,” he stated.
The event was also attended by Enterprise and Employment Minister Lutfo
Dlamini, who pledged government’s commitment towards partnering with the
business community in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
He described the pandemic as a devastating storm that is a catalystic
occurrence to all problems faced by the country, including poverty,
crime and unemployment.
Dlamini said this was influenced by certain attitudes of discrimination
which are to be dealt away with.
These were some of the steps shared by Dr. Brink to declare victory
against the pandemic:
* Expand HIV testing and counselling services
* Prevent new infections - promote that those who test negative remain
* Positive prevention - when one who tests positive should have access
to Anti Retroviral Therapy to contain situation.
* Maximise protection - through condom distribution.
* Accelerate treatment scale up.
6. Swazis still shun local products
IT would seem Minister of Enterprise and Employment Lutfo Dlamini, a
great fan of Swazi empowerment, would have to do more as Swazis still
detest locally produced stuff.
Yesterday at Tum’s George Hotel, PSI Swaziland confessed it experienced
problems having ICE materials of the wormfree chewable tablets in
vernacular (siSwati) as this could have caused people to shy away from
“Swazis are brain washed into thinking anything local is taboo and it
would seem much effort has to be done in convincing them otherwise,”
said Victoria Masuku, PSI Swaziland’s Technical Advisor.
She was presenting research findings on the Wormfree Albedanzole tablets
they conducted as an organisation recently. The research was carried out
in both urban, peri-urban as well as some rural communities to determine
acceptance, facts and barriers around the Albendanzole tablets.
The enterprise minister has persistently called for products
manufactured locally to be supported, questioning the patriotism of some
who prefer foreign things above those local. To that end, he has even
called upon government to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
when it comes to tendering for contracts there.
Meanwhile, PSI said at least eight focused group discussions were held
in the cited areas wherein it emerged that people held the view that
de-worming was exclusively for children and not adults.
“Amongst barriers noted was the pricing of the Albendazole tablets,
especially in pharmacies, where parents could part with up to E25
whereas health centres under government charge E5. Respondents proposed
that the charge ranges between E9 and E15 for each tablet. Also, the
question of availability comes to play since it (Albendazole) could only
be accessed from pharmacies and not in places where the people are,”
She said the suggestion was that all Information Education and
Communication (IEC) and Interpersonal Communication (IPC) materials
should be in the vernacular as opposed to the English language.
This was after the respondents noted that everything was in English yet
not all of them were conversant with the language.
PSI Swaziland will be distributing the Albendazole tablets to retail
outlets such as shops, supermarkets, as well as through Community Based
They would be using wholesalers such as Metro who would ensure
distribution filters into the communities and retail outlets.
The PSI Swaziland technical advisor also clarified that her organisation
was doing other aspects of social marketing and health, not that it had
deviated from its mandate.
“We became synonymous with the use of condoms and a lot of people were
asking about the relevance of us launching the Water Guard (water
disinfectant tablet) last week and the deworming tablets today. This is
part of our work as an organisation into health matters and social
She said their work was informed by research since they were pursuing
what is known as ‘evidence-based marketing’.
PSI Swaziland Deputy Country Representative Babazile Magongo said they
could also venture into malaria and Maternal and Child Health (MCH)
programme and were capable of doing so as their mandate entailed.
7. SADC customs union is on slow track - Manuel
Cape Town - The 2010 target for creating a Southern African Development
Community (SADC) customs union was unlikely to be achieved, finance
minister Trevor Manuel told members of the national assembly portfolio
Manuel was reporting on his interactions with the World Bank, SADC, the
Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) and the International Monetary Fund.
"My submission is that we won't get there by 2010. But this does not
mean that we should abandon the idea," said Manuel, responding to
questions from MPs about the timeframes for setting up a larger customs
He said his office had been "peppered with" letters after treasury
director-general Letsetja Kganyago's recent report to the finance
committee on the Sacu customs pool.
Manuel said this was an indication that there was political sensitivity
among members of the customs union over reporting matters relating to
The countries might not want their respective citizens to know what came
out of that pool; there might also be the notion that these countries
were "too dependent" on South Africa, said Manuel.
The finance minister said that the aim to have a wider free trade area
by next year also faced challenges.
There were some countries in the region who were dependent on customs
revenue ''because they don't have sufficiently developed tax systems and
Manuel said 50 percent of Lesotho's budget and 63 percent of Swaziland's
budget were accounted from transfers from the customs pool managed by
He said Sacu combined transfers to Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and
Swaziland had increased from R3.2 billion in 1994/95 to R23.1 billion in
2007/08, with the revenue-sharing agreement based on customs and excise
revenue from extra Sacu trade.
Manuel said that while there was support for a free trade area, the
remaining challenges included achieving an effective alignment of the
tariffs and dealing with states that belonged to more than one economic
Swaziland ,for example, is a member of Sacu and SADC, as well as the
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, which extends all the way
Manuel said this created "a bit of tension".
Members of the SADC are Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia,
South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
8. SA's plans to reduce import tariffs
EVEN though South Africa's plans to ease import tariffs under its
recently launched industry policy framework could leave its Southern
African Customs Union (SACU) counterparts with little policy space if
they wanted to embark on their own industrial deve
Swaziland is heavily reliant on the shared income from the common
revenue customs pool which accounts for more than half of both the
Kingdom and Lesotho's national budgets while the other member states -
Namibia and Botswana - also benefit substantially.
That country's publication, Businessday, yesterday reported that SA
wants to use the SACU tariff book to enhance and aid its industrial
development. It was said the SA government was planning to review and
streamline import tariffs in all relevant sectors, ultimately with the
aim to lower the costs of inputs into downstream activities.
It quoted Deputy Director-General of International Trade and Economic
Development Xavier Carim who played down the threat to other member
states, saying there was not necessarily a correlation between tariffs
and revenues from the customs pool, as the lowering of tariffs tended to
boost imports, which in turn could swell customs revenues.
However, it was stated that SA's plan to unilaterally tinker with the
tariff book also goes against stated objectives in the SACU treaty of
2003; recognising the importance of balanced industrial development of
the common customs area as an important objective for economic
development as well as agreeing to develop common policies and
strategies for industrial development.
Further, the report said the national industrial policy framework's aim
to use import tariffs to facilitate SA's industrial development
ostensibly undermined this commitment.
"SA's streamlining of the tariff book means Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia
and Botswana would be left with little policy space if they wanted to
embark on their own industrial development," the report stated.
It was also noted that even though SA could not change customs tariffs
without consultation, the political pressure on other SACU member states
- which are deeply dependent on SA - might mean they would be reluctant
to cross the big power in the region and therefore, go along with the move.
Meanwhile, local economists have said these developments would not
necessarily impact negatively on Swaziland and other SACU members,
depending on various economic factors.
In an interview, Federation of Swaziland Employers and Chamber of
Commerce (FSE&CC) Economist Muzikayise Dube said the neighbouring
state's plans could benefit the whole region.
"If SA reduces its import tariffs then this applies for the whole region
as this would mean reduced income which in turn means reduced revenue
from the SACU income pool," he said. "However, the flipside is that
reduced tariffs should increase the volume of imports and thus, can
expect to compensate for the loss."
He said the outcome of these developments also depended on which sectors
SA planned to effect the tariffs. "If these apply to critical industry
sectors which mostly import raw material, then the reduced tariffs will
improve production costs and therefore, overall production."
The policy framework primarily identifies four lead sectors; capital and
transport equipment, metals; automotives and components; chemicals,
plastic fabrication and pharmaceuticals; as well as forestry, pulp,
paper and furniture. However, an array of other sectors will also
ultimately receive support, including clothing and textiles,
agri-processing, biofuels, information and communication technology
(ICT), white goods and retail.
Dube said if the policy meets the objective to improve the level of
import volumes, then there was no reason for SACU members to reject the
"It is not necessarily true that SA could go ahead and implement these
plans without consulting its SACU counterparts even though it is the
'big brother' in the region," he said, adding "even though it is
directed at SA's economic development, the other countries can stop the
policy if it is to have adverse effects."
Co-ordinating Assembly of Non-governmental Organisations (CANGO)
Economist Thembinkosi Dlamini concurred, adding that such a development
was long overdue as SACU tariffs had not been globally competitive for
years because they were relatively high.
He said SACU tariffs were not competitive because they were set by SA
and yet the tendency was for all global destinations to reduce import
tariffs to increase competitiveness.
"SACU has not reduced its import tariffs for years, leading to the
region having high cost producers because of common external tariffs,"
said Dlamini, adding that decisions on the industry policy should be
based on the premise that economic activity to arise from the strategy
would be big, in terms of revenue for the SACU pool.
Dlamini said the local government needed to address and satisfy the
issue of revenue neutrality as well as attracting foreign direct
investment (FDI) to promote economic growth.
"This is a good starting point, as long as SA can prove that the move
will be revenue neutral. Swaziland now has to look at measures to take
into consideration in order to maximise the benefits to be accrued thereof."
9. Swaziland’s king rejects criticism of political
LANGKAWI, Malaysia: Swaziland's King Mswati III, Africa's last absolute
monarch, said Tuesday he is working to ensure democracy and reduce
rampant poverty in his agriculture-dependent country, despite
long-running criticism about his political and financial policies.
Mswati, who has faced growing domestic and foreign pressure in recent
years to relax his grip on his kingdom, confirmed that Swaziland no
longer bans political parties following a constitution adopted last year.
"This constitution was a result of many people participating," Mswati
said in an interview with The Associated Press and selected Malaysian
media on the sidelines of an economic gathering of African and Asian
leaders in Malaysia.
"The people are the ones who decided the structure as it is," Mswati
said. "There is no ban on political parties."
Swaziland has been ruled by royal decree since a state of emergency was
declared in 1973, when the late King Sobhuza II outlawed political parties.
The new constitution has been considered vague about whether it allows
political organizations to function because it still does not allow
parliamentary candidates to run as members of political parties.
Swaziland's pro-democracy movement has stepped up its push for
multiparty elections. Demonstrators led a strike last month that nearly
paralyzed the important sugar refining industry in this landlocked
country of 1 million people.
Activists have also objected to Mswati's economic policies, including
plans to tax pensions.
Mswati, who ascended the throne in 1986, has been criticized for his
lavish spending, his love of luxury cars and the palaces that house his
13 wives in a nation where an estimated 70 percent of the population
lives in poverty.
More than two-thirds of Swaziland's people live in rural areas that are
often ravaged by drought and crop failures. The unemployment rate is
estimated to be 40 percent, worsened by one of the world's highest AIDS
10. Swazis strike for multi-party democracy
Thousands of striking public sector workers brought Swaziland's second
city to a standstill on Wednesday as they took to the streets to demand
the introduction of multi-party democracy.
Schools and government factories were closed, while hospitals and banks
were forced to run skeleton services during a strike called by the
country's main trade union body to denounce the current system of
government which ensures that absolute power resides in the hands of
King Mswati III.
A two-day stoppage by public sector workers was to have begun in the
capital Mbabane but organisers were forced to have a last-minute rethink
after failing to get authorisation from the security services.
Instead they made Manzini, where they had planned to strike on Thursday,
the centre of their protests and hundreds of unionists made the
30-minute journey by bus from the capital in a show of solidarity.
"There are no lessons in school everywhere today as most teachers are
here," said Stones Ginindza, general secretary of the Swaziland National
Association of Teachers.
"Even though we have got exams (due to be held in early August), we are
facing a time of crisis and so no teacher is going to sit down and think
about preparing the students unless the government honours our demands.
"If they do not respond to our call, I'm afraid this is going to continue."
Unions and rights groups are hoping that their show of strength will
lead to a dismantling of the traditional tinkhundla system of government
under which King Mswati III retains full executive, legislative and
Despite the introduction of a new constitution in February 2006,
political parties are still not allowed to contest general elections
scheduled for next year and are demanding the introduction of a genuine
system of democracy.
While there was no sign of violence, many stores shut up shop as the
demonstrators marched through the city.
The protesters carried banners and chanted songs that warned: "We are
tired of being oppressed, we want better living."
Gugu Malindzis, deputy head of the Swaziland Federation of Labour, said
that the government had to listen to the concerns of the population.
"We want to force the government to pay attention to our demands," he
said. "People are not getting an accurate picture, about the situation
of the workers and how we are being governed."
11. Report on the Assessment of Neighbourhood Care Points. Swaziland
2006. Published by
UNICEF, 2006. This report is about care for orphans and children
affected by HIV deaths.
AIDS in Africa Articles
Swaziland Newsletter is published by Southern Africa Contact (Denmark)
and distributed to more than 1200 national and international
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