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Wednesday, 21 February 2018


Swaziland’s Senate President Gelane Zwane has been ‘banned’ from attending parliament for up to two years because she is a widow in mourning. Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula has met a similar fate.

Magagula was stopped from attending the opening of parliament on Friday (16 February 2018).

The two senior politicians have been caught up in Swazi tradition which dictates that a woman should mourn her husband for two years and in that time must stay away from public office and not be close to the King and his mother. King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Zwane confirmed to the Times of Swaziland newspaper that she would be staying away from parliament where she is leader of the Senate. It is also speculated that she will not be eligible to stand in the national election due later in 2018, nor can she be appointed to any official position until two years have elapsed. Her husband Michael was cremated last week.

Meanwhile, Magagula was stopped from attending the official opening of parliament where King Mswati made his annual speech from the throne. Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Paul Dlamini told her not to attend. She separated from her husband Enock Mfanyana Magagula in 1994 and he died last year.

The Sunday Observer newspaper in Swaziland reported (18 February 2018), ‘Magagula revealed that the DPM also informed her not to come close to any royal residence, Parliament and anywhere where Their Majesties were present. The minister said when she queried Dlamini on the suspension she was told it was according to Swazi culture.’

The newspaper added, ‘She stated that she would follow the directive by the DPM seeing as he was her elder and she was socialised into obedience.’

The DPM said Magagula could continue her duties as a minister.

The issue of Swazi culture and mourning contradicts Section 28 of the Swaziland Constitution which guarantees that women have the right to equal treatment with men, including equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities.

Women in Law in Southern  Africa Swaziland Chapter Director Colani Hlatshwayo told the Sunday Observer mourning culture put women at a disadvantage. She said Swaziland had signed United Nations’ treaties that encouraged women to participate in politics.

Simangele Mtetwa, who is responsible for gender issues in the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), told the Swazi Observer (19 February 2018) the action against Magagula was, ‘Totally unacceptable, and I condemn it in the strongest terms it deserves. This paints a gloomy future for all women in the country.’

She added if the  authorities were serious about the development of the kingdom such practices needed to stop because they were discriminatory in their nature. 

There was a major row at the election in 2013 when Dumisani Dlamini a chief’s headman in Ludzibini, an area ruled by Chief Magudvulela a former Swazi Senator, threatened people would be banished from their homes if they nominated Jennifer du Pont, a widow, for the upcoming election. 

The Times Sunday reported at the time, ‘[Dlamini] warned that those who would nominate her should be prepared to relocate to areas as distant as five chiefdoms away. Her sin was that she attended the nominations only a few months after her husband died.’

The newspaper reported, ‘He said she should still be mourning her husband.’

The Times reported Du Pont did not wear standard black mourning gowns and was dressed in a blue wrap-around dress known as sidvwashi.

Enough people in the chiefdom defied Dlamini and Ms du Pont was duly nominated.

In April 2017, Elections and Boundaries Commission commissioner Ncumbi Maziya told a voter education meeting at Bulandzeni Chiefdom that women in mourning had a constitutional right to stand for election. 

However, the Swazi Observer (3 April 2017) reported, ‘He said a person wearing a mourning gown was not allowed to be near His Majesty the King. If a certain constituency elected a person in such a situation, it was highly possible that the woman could not attend the Parliament opening event, where the King would also be in attendance. Maziya said that was when a woman would have to exercise conscience by at least standing by the gate of Parliament, to avoid being near the King.’

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Tuesday, 20 February 2018


Political parties in Swaziland are to go to court to force King Mswati III’s regime to allow them freedom of assembly and to take part in the national election due later in 2018.

King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. At present political parties advocating democracy in the kingdom are banned as terrorists. The Swazi Constitution does not allow any political parties to contest elections. 

The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO); the Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) and the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) have joined forces to take the government to court. 

A national election is due at a date to be set by the King but under the kingdom’s constitution only individuals are allowed to be candidates. 

Swaziland’s previous election in 2013 was considered ‘not free and fair’ by a number of international organisations, including the Commonwealth Observer Mission and African Union which called separately for a review of the kingdom’s constitution. It said members of parliament ‘continue to have severely limited powers’ and political parties were banned. 

In 2008, the EU declined an invitation to observe the honesty of the Swaziland elections because of ‘shortcomings’ in the kingdom’s democracy.

In 2013, the EU which is a major donor of aid to Swaziland told King Mswati he must allow political parties to operate in his kingdom as it was important that international principles of democracy were upheld in Swaziland.

In October 2012, the United Kingdom also called for political parties to be un-banned in Swaziland.

In 2015 an independent survey showed more than one in three Swazi people wanted political parties to be allowed in the kingdom. This was even though all debate on democratising the kingdom is ruthlessly crushed by King Mswati’s state police and security forces. Meetings called to discuss democratic change are routinely disrupted by police and prodemocracy activists are jailed. No news media in Swaziland support political parties.

Afrobarometer reported that in Swaziland 36 percent of people questioned agreed with the statement, ‘The Swazi Constitution should be amended to allow for the existence of political parties in our country.’ A total of 58 percent agreed with the statement, ‘The constitutional ban on political parties has served our country well and should therefore be maintained.’ More than six people in ten people said they were not satisfied with the way democracy worked in the kingdom.

In a 2013 survey Afrobarometer reported two thirds of Swazi people wanted the kingdom to become a democracy and they wanted to choose their own leaders ‘through honest and open elections’.

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Monday, 19 February 2018


Three drivers have appeared in court in Swaziland on charges relating to the deaths of 13 people, mostly children aged 11 to 16, who were being transported on the back of a truck that crashed going to the Reed Dance in 2015.

Charges range from negligent driving to culpable homicide. 

But, nobody who ordered up to sixty girls to travel on the back of an open truck like cattle has been charged.

The Principal Magistrate David Khumalo at Manzini criticised the delay in the case coming to trail and said it must be finalised immediately. The prosecution was not ready and the case was postponed to 14 March 2018.

The deaths caused outrage in August 2015. The exact number of deaths in the incident is disputed. The Swazi Government said 13 people died; 11 children and two older people who were their supervisors. There was widespread disbelief in Swaziland that the death toll was so low. The Swaziland Solidarity Network, a prodemocracy group banned in Swaziland, citing the Swaziland Defence Force as a source, put the figure of deaths at 38. It later revised this figure to 65, citing medical officials as a source.

The official figures included an 11-year-old girl and seven girls aged 16 or under.

They died when they were loaded up onto the back of a truck used for conveying building materials. The truck was involved in a road collision on 28 August 2015. They were on their way to the annual Reed Dance or Umhlanga where they were expected to be among thousands of ‘virgins’ to dance half-naked in front of the King.

King Mswati came in for heavy criticism after the crash because journalists were prevented from reporting the event. King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and media are heavily restricted in his kingdom.

Thousands of young girls from across Swaziland were forced to travel in trucks standing up  in the open back cheek-by-jowl. There was no space to sit down or even to turn around. Photographs show that at least sixty children were squashed onto the back of a single truck. Many of the trucks that transported the girls were usually used to move building materials.

Young girls travel this way every year to attend the Reed Dance where they are expected to dance topless in front of King Mswati. Media in Swaziland routinely describe the girls as ‘virgins’ or ‘maidens.’ The King was 46 years old at the time of the accident.

Media reports of the accident are inconsistent, but it is generally agreed that the children were thrown from the back of the truck when it was involved in a collision. Police reported that not all the girls died on the spot. International media reported that journalists in Swaziland were stopped from gathering information about the accident.

Media in Swaziland are heavily censored; the Swazi Observer, one of only two daily newspapers in the kingdom, is in effect owned by the King. The Media Institute of Southern Africa Swaziland chapter in a report on media freedom in Swaziland described the Observer newspapers as a  ‘pure propaganda machine for the royal family’.

The Reed Dance, which is also known as Umhlanga, is one of the main cultural events in Swaziland and it is strongly connected with the King. In Swaziland reporting negatively about the Reed Dance would be seen to be the same as criticizing the King.

Femi Falana, a lawyer in Nigeria, later sent a petition to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Mr. Juan Ernesto Mendez; the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Ms. Dubravka Simonovic; and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Mr. Christof Heyns.

Punch, a Nigerian-based news site, reported at the time, ‘The lawyer said it was particularly insensitive of the Swaziland monarch to have reportedly allowed the dance festival to proceed despite the news of the victims’ death.

‘He said it was also condemnable that rather than address the issues of rights violation, King Mswati III had continued to cover it up by trying to prevent publication of reports on the incidents.’
According to Punch, the petition read in part, ‘I argue that the annual Umhlanga Reed Dance itself is unlawful as it has continued to perpetuate forced marriages, entirely inconsistent with international human rights standards.

‘I also argue that religion, culture and tradition cannot be used to justify human rights violations, including violence against women, which is what the annual Umhlanga Reed Dance constitutes. The continuation of the Umhlanga Reed Dance also gives rise to other human rights abuses, including forced marriages.

‘Under international human rights law, states like Swaziland are to be held accountable if they fail to act with due diligence to prevent violations of rights such as those highlighted above or to investigate and punish acts of violence against women and provide effective remedies and access to justice for victims and their families.

‘By packing the girls onto the back of open trucks, the government of Swaziland should have reasonably foreseen that this would lead to violation of their rights to life and human dignity.

‘In fact, due diligence places a strict standard of conduct upon the government of Swaziland to protect all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction, including the girls and women.

‘I argue that the government of Swaziland has the supreme duty to prevent acts such as those highlighted above that can cause arbitrary loss of life such as the unnecessary deaths of these girls.’

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Sunday, 18 February 2018


A university in Swaziland has suspended student leaders for ‘misconduct’ for organising a protest over fees, allowances and poor facilities.

And, all first-year students at the campus in Manzini have been sent home indefinitely following continued class boycotts.

It happened at the Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU).

The Student Representative Council (SRC) Secretary-General Tiger Nxumalo and President Zamokuhle Mamba were handed letters of suspension. Other members of the SRC executive were informed verbally of their suspension.

The Swazi Observer (16 February 2018) quoted Mamba saying they had been charged with misconduct and were awaiting a disciplinary hearing.

A spokesperson for SANU said property had been vandalised by protesting students.

Students at SANU have a number of issues including delayed payment of allowances for first-year students, withholding of ongoing students allowances, unreasonable allowance reduction, lack of project allowances, exorbitant fees and poor infrastructure. They petitioned the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Swaziland Higher Education Council (SHEC) on Monday (12 February 2018). The petition came after a class boycott that started on the previous Wednesday.

There have been class boycotts across college campuses in Swaziland. Students at the kingdom’s biggest university UNISWA have been protesting about delays in payment of allowances. The university was closed on Monday.

SANU has a poor history of student relations. In 2014, they were told they could not resume their studies following class boycotts in the Faculty of Health Sciences unless they gave the university the names of strike leaders.
Students were forced to reapply to study and as part of that application they were told to complete questionnaires which included three questions: How did the student body resolve to boycott classes in the absence of a student representative council? Who was responsible for calling all students out of their classrooms to join the strike? Do you know who were in the forefront of the strike action / the leaders? Name them.

The students went on strike in a dispute over allowances, poor learning conditions in the institution, insufficient books in the library and lack of laboratory equipment for science experiments. 

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Swaziland’s Industrial Court has told the government to negotiate with doctors and health workers in a dispute over cuts in on-call and call-out allowances.

The Court dismissed an application from the doctors and health workers to strike down a directive from government that would cut incomes by up to 50 percent.

Industrial Court Judge Abande Dlamini referred the matter to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. Should the matter not be resolved there it will be returned to court, the Swazi Observer reported on Friday (16 February 2017).

The court action came after doctors and health workers threatened to boycott on-call and call-outs.

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Saturday, 17 February 2018


Students in Swaziland are set to protest against the ‘extravagant spending’ of the 50/50 celebrations to mark the King’s birthday and the anniversary of Independence from Britain.

The protest is due to take place on 12 April 2018, the anniversary of the proclamation that turned Swaziland from a democracy into a kingdom ruled by an absolute monarch.

In a statement (14 February 2018), the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) said, ‘The National Executive Committee noted two upcoming national events in the terms of double celebration (50/50 celebration) and National Elections as projects that has been historically synonymous with corruption and extravagant spending and depriving the people fundamental social services in the process. In accordance with the 2018 theme, the NEC resolved to stage a protest on the 12th of April against extravagant spending and corruption.’

Details of the protest have still to be finalised.

The 50/50 celebrations are to mark the 50th birthday this year of King Mwsati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, and the 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain. It has already been announced that celebrations will take place on 19 April at Mavuso Trade and Exhibition Centre.
A budget of the equivalent of US$1.7 million has been given by the government. The Taiwan Government has donated US$1.3 million.

When similar celebrations took place in 2008 the cost of the so-called 40/40 celebrations overran by E32.6 million (about US$5 million at the then exchange rate). E17 million was budgeted but it ended up costing ‘at least’ E50.2 million. The exact figure is uncertain.

The celebrations took place at a time when Swaziland was under the pressure of savage financial cuts, imposed by the International Monetary Fund, after years of mismanagement of the economy by successive Swazi governments – all handpicked by King Mswati.

The intended SNUS protest is set for 12 April. This is an important date in Swaziland as it was on this day in 1973 that King Mswati’s father King Sobuza II issued a Royal Decree that banned all political parties and put all legislative, executive and judicial power in the hands of the King. Despite a Constitution that came into effect in 2006, the Decree has not been withdrawn.

Protests are held each year on the anniversary of 12 April.

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APRIL 12 2012

Friday, 16 February 2018


Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini calls himself a ‘doctor’ although he has no such qualification.

A ‘doctor’ is someone who has a certified medical qualification or a Ph.D (doctor of philosophy) or similar (D.Litt, for example) that has been earned by publishing a substantial record of research. Barnabas Dlamini – sometimes known as Sibusiso Dlamini – has none of these.

Dlamini drew attention to his ‘doctor’ title in his just-published autobiography. He signs himself as ‘Dr’ in letters and is called ‘Doctor’ on the Swaziland Government’s official website.

However the truth is he has no such qualification.

He was awarded an honorary ‘doctor of laws’ by the state-run University of Swaziland (UNISWA) in 2008. The University has King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, as its Chancellor. Dlamini was not elected Prime Minister; he was personally appointed by the King.

Honorary doctorates are not ‘realdoctorates; in other words, being awarded an honorary doctorate is not the same as earning an actual doctorate. By convention, recipients of honorary doctorates do not use the titleDr.’ The title should not be used to further a career or be put on a resume. Honorary awards are designed to draw attention to the university bestowing the honour, since it ties them to the recipient.

Many receivers could paper a room with their doctorate scrolls: former US President Barack Obama has at least 13; Bill Clinton, at least 16. In 1996, Nelson Mandela received eight honorary degrees in a single day in London, UK.

There is a twist in the tail. Dlamini’s ‘doctorate’ was awarded by UNISWA, but no student has ever graduated from the university with a doctorate degree.

The level of educational achievement at the university was so low that there were doubts that it should be called a ‘university’ at all. In 2006, just before it awarded Dlamini the doctorate, 49.7 percent of UNISWA’s 1,370 students who graduated received certificates and diplomas, while 49.2 percent got bachelor degrees. Hardly anyone studied for graduate qualifications: that year, 14 students received masters degrees while only 51 students were studying for master degrees in the whole university. A university is supposed to be an institution of higher learning; UNISWA’s statistics made it look more like a tertiary college. This situation has improved slightly since Dlamini was awarded his honorary doctorate.

The awarding of honorary doctorates and degrees is controversial. In 1996, Long Island University’s Southampton College awarded an honorary Doctor of Amphibious Letters to Kermit the Frog for his work in education and in raising environmental awareness. Even though there were those who did not agree with the idea of bestowing the honour on a puppet, Kermit accepted the award and did indeed give an acceptance speech.

Richard Rooney

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Thursday, 15 February 2018


Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has said a newspaper in the kingdom was closed down because it published reports critical of his government.

He told a Cabinet retreat at the Pigg’s peak Hotel, ‘As the government we have seen people who are desperate to criticise us as their public servants at every opportunity. In the past we saw a certain news editor write only on government’s faults.’

The Swazi Observer reported his comments on Tuesday (13 February 2018). It said, ‘Dlamini said the editor in question would write volatile articles published in a certain newspaper every Monday resulting in the newspaper in question eventually being shut down for a period of time.’

The newspaper said, ‘The PM said by writing such scathing articles, the editor caused his newspaper to be shut down and this was unfortunate because a lot of innocent people suffered for one man’s mistakes.’

It added, ‘Although he did not mention names the only newspaper that was closed and later opened was the Swazi Observer. It was closed in 2000 during a time where Dr Dlamini was the PM.’

The PM’s comments come less than two months after the Swaziland Shopping newspaper was forced to close by government. It said it had not registered with Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology. This happened even though the newspaper had been publishing since 2014. It happened after the newspaper published a story about King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, and his business dealings. Editor Zweli Martin Dlamini fled to neighbouring South Africa after he received death threats

The story of the Observer’s closure in 2000 is an example of how media censorship in Swaziland works. The Observer was (and still is) owned by a conglomerate called Tibiyo Taka Ngwane headed by King Mswati but this did not stop it being closed.

It was closed after it published a series of stories critical of Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini the then Prime Minister and Edgar Hillary the Police Commissioner.

Mandla Magagula, wrote in the Nation magazine, an independent comment magazine in Swaziland, in April 2000, ‘The events which led to the sudden closure of the Swazi Observer tell a tale of high drama which could easily have come from a movie script. As the newspaper tried to live up to the principles of good journalism, political figures came down on the editorial team like the wrath of God and when they reached a deadlock closed it down.’

According to Magagula, the main characters in the drama were the Prime Minister, the Commissioner of Police, the managing director of Tibiyo Taka Ngwane A. T. Dlamini; and the Attorney General, Phesheya Dlamini.

The problem for the Observer started when the newspaper’s managing editor and his reporters refused to divulge the sources for stories the Observer had published.

The first was when the newspaper carried a story about the bombings of the Deputy Prime Minister’s office and the Mahlanya Inkhundla, saying that police were poised for a breakthrough arrest. When the story appeared the police commissioner claimed the Observer had interfered with a police investigation.

The second was a report based on a letter written by Edgar Hillary who was seeking the assistance of the South African Special Police Squad in the investigation of a millionaire from Manzini, who was on the run in South Africa.

The International Press Institute (IPI) at the time reported, ‘On the day the article appeared, [the managing editor] was summoned to Hillary’s offices where the journalist was once again reprimanded for the article and asked again to reveal his source.

‘The following day, [the managing editor] was summoned yet again to Hillary’s office for a meeting with Hillary and two other policemen. Speaking to MISA-Swaziland, [the managing editor] said that the second meeting amounted to a mini court session. He was called names such as a “bullying” and “irresponsible” journalist and was warned not to write any “rubbish” that could be published at a later date. He was also asked for the letter and for him to reveal his source, which he declined to do. At the end of the meeting he was warned that he could face criminal charges or face a High Court order because of his actions and his refusal to disclose his source.

‘[The managing editor] along with his news editor were summoned to the offices of the Attorney General, where they were once again pressured to give in to the demands of the police commissioner. The two were again asked to hand over the letter in question.’

The third story was when the Observer called the Prime Minister ‘a liar’ after he said he had left the Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister out of a delegation to open the new embassy of the Republic of China because government had no money. The Observer discovered that China had funded the trip.

The fourth was a story about cow dung that involved the Speaker of the House of Assembly.

The fifth was a story that an influential millionaire had plotted to have the prime Minister sacked.

The Swazi High Court turned down an urgent appeal from the Attorney General to force the newspaper to divulge its sources. Magagula reported that the ‘Attorney General personally went to Observer House [the offices of the Observer] and delivered the documents relating to the application with the dire warning that the newspaper would either divulge its sources or [the managing editor] and his two reporters would be locked up.’

A source told Magagula, ‘The Attorney General was all pomp and majesty until [the managing editor] brought him back to earth with the warning that this brazen harassment could attract unpleasant international repercussions. The AG stormed out of the newspaper offices without another word.’

After the police commissioner, Edgar Hillary had failed to get the newspaper to disclose his sources, A. T. Dlamini, the managing director of Tibiyo intervened on behalf of Hillary.

According to Magagula, the role of A. T. Dlamini ‘is particularly reprehensible because he showed himself to be a double-talker’. He had previously encouraged staff at the Observer to report ‘without fear or favour because he believed in editorial independence. But here he was harassing his top editorial executive.’

When the journalists refused to divulge their sources,
King Mswati III was consulted and, according to Magagula, he was ‘seemingly persuaded that the only way out of the quagmire was to close the newspaper’.

The IPI reported at the time, ‘The board of directors of the entire Swazi Observer group of papers announced on 17 February that the paper was being shut down. Chairman of the Board Timothy Nhleko called in the entire staff and in a one-minute address announced that the paper was being closed immediately and that everyone should vacate the premises.

‘In a written statement, the management said the closure was due to restructuring and financial reorganisation. However, MISA sources said that at a strategic planning meeting sponsored by the board and shareholders in the previous week, a five-year plan had been drawn up for the paper. According to the source, there was no indication of financial difficulties at the paper. Reliable sources in Swaziland claim that the order to close the newspaper came verbally from the King.’

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A E900 million (US$90 million) oil contract that was awarded without being tendered has been cancelled by the Swaziland Government after more than four years.
Kantey & Templer had been contracted to build a ‘Strategic Oil Reserve’ at Phuzumoya in the Lubombo region. It was to store up to 170 million litres of fuel. 

The project had the enthusiastic backing of King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The King receives 25 percent of all mineral income on Swaziland which he holds ‘in trust for the Swazi nation’. In reality he uses the money to fund a lavish lifestyle that includes at least 13 palaces, fleets of top-of-the-range BMW and Mercedes cars and a private jet. He is due to take delivery of a second jet during 2018.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy is in the process of terminating the contract, the Observer on Saturday newspaper reported (10 February 2018). It said little progress had been made. 

In October 2013, King Mswati officially launched the construction of the project at a sod cutting ceremony. He said at the time, ‘The project that I bring to you today is one that is geared into transforming lives and take the entire region into higher heights.’

Construction was supposed to take two years and create 300 jobs.

Even though it had already missed its deadline, King Mswati, during the official opening of parliament in 2016, encouraged investors to take advantage of the project.

The project was surrounded in controversy. Once completed the facility would have a 90 million litres fuel capacity to last Swaziland 90 days. It would store 42 million litres of diesel and 38 million litres of petrol. No independent analysis had been undertaken to see if this was needed in Swaziland.
In January 2015, Swazi Media Commentary reported that media had been excluded from a House of Assembly session where a special Act of Parliament was passed to allow the Government to make the payment for the project. 

Members of parliament had previously rejected a Bill to guarantee the payment.

Claims of malpractice circulated in the kingdom and members of parliament were concerned that the lucrative contract had not put out to open tender. Media in Swaziland also reported that some people had registered imposter companies as part of a plan to destabilise the project.

After a year the project had not started. It emerged that the company originally contracted to build the project American Tank and Vessel (AT&V) had withdrawn from the contract.

The reason for the withdrawal of AT&V has not been explained publicly, but it is believed that the move was permitted under the terms of the company’s contract.

Then, without public consultation or going through the legal open tendering process, the contract was awarded to South African Company, Kantey & Templer Consulting Engineers.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported the Natural Resources and Energy Minister Jabulile Mshwama saying that ‘since His Majesty had already announced that work had to begin by cutting the sod, her ministry had been working round the clock that the project kick starts and according to Swazi custom once the King has spoken, things have to be done.’

She said that Kantey & Templer Consulting Engineers had previously erected fuel reserve tanks at the King Mswati III International Airport. 

When a Government Bill was first introduced to the House of Assembly, members of parliament threw it out. The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported, ‘The MPs had tossed out the Bill after concerns had been raised about why the tender for the construction of the about E900m facility had not been an open one and they also questioned the particulars of Kantey & Templer Proprietary Limited (Swaziland) [a company formed to oversee the project]. 

‘The MPs had said all government ministries were expected to adhere to the provisions of the Procurement Act without first resorting to the single provision in the same Act even when the requirements of same are not met by the project at hand as it was in this present case.’ 

The Times Sunday, an independent newspaper, reported, ‘MPs are unhappy that other companies were not engaged, through an open tendering system, to bid for the multimillion project.  Suspicion reached high levels when the MPs learnt that a closed tendering system was used to engage the South African company to embark on the project. The nature of the suspicions cannot be repeated for now.’

The Sunday Observer, another newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported that individuals were trying to destabilise the project. It reported, ‘Two prominent individuals identified as being behind the hijack include a present cabinet minister and a businessman who also happens to be a former cabinet minister.’ 

The newspaper reported, ‘An individual close to the project confided that there is serious lobbying, by those who want a stake in the project, to have it stalled.  “The very same people who wanted to register impostor companies are the ones who are now lobbying members of parliament and cabinet ministers to have the project grounded. They are doing this to serve their own selfish interests. They want to create bad publicity around Kantey & Templer and the project in the hope that the tender award would be cancelled,” the well-informed individual said.’ 

Senators also questioned the awarding of the tender. The Observer on Sunday reported, ‘Senator Chief Kusa had also strongly questioned why the initial company AT&V had suddenly withdrew from the project and questioned how the whole project was costed and how the tendered company Kantey & Templer was eventually awarded tender. 

‘Senator Chief Kekela also wondered if the credibility of the company was considered as the country has experienced a number of projects that have failed as a result of companies whose profiles and credibility was not considered. “We have seen companies that have come and made heavenly promises that have however not come to effect and failed and I must say I do not want to work on risks here as a risk is dangerous, we should not therefore risk with the Swazi people,” the Senator said.’

In February 2018, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy told the Observer on Saturday, ‘The contractor [Kantey & Templer] did not meet the agreed upon timelines and we are working within the framework of the agreement for the next steps in this project. It is envisaged that the project will be returned to tendering in the very near future.’

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