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Tuesday, 22 August 2017


Police in Swaziland ‘executed’ a suspect ‘cowboy style’ when they shot him at point blank range, a local newspaper reported.

Siboniso ‘Door’ Mdluli, aged 22, of Maseyisini, was gunned down on Friday evening (18 August 2017) but was only found dead the next day.

The Swazi Observer reported on Monday, ‘It is believed he died as a result of excessive bleeding. It is said police riddled him with bullets as he was fleeing while they were trying to arrest him.’

It happened when police raided the home of Mdluli’s girlfriend. They were searching for him in connection to an alleged armed robbery and illegal possession of a firearm.  

The newspaper reported, ‘It is said the police identified themselves and bulldozed their way inside and dragging Mdluli out. The mission involved two plain clothed police officers armed with an R4 rifle and a pistol.’

The Observer added, ‘They told him they were acting on a tipoff after he was said to have pointed a firearm at someone threatening to shoot them, a source said. It was then that the whole house was ransacked and things turned upside down with the hope of finding the gun.

‘However, no firearm was found. The police then dragged Mdluli out and proceeded with him to their vehicle which was parked within the yard.’ Mdluli resisted and tried to flee.

The Observer reported, ‘Just when he was a short distance away the police opened fire and hit him on the back just below the buttocks. He is said to have not stopped and continued running. He disappeared in the thick of the night and with the police chasing after him.  

‘He reportedly crawled until he reached another homestead situated over a kilometre away from the scene, trying to seek help.

‘However, he found all houses locked since it was late in the night. He then sprawled behind one of the houses, where he was found dead [by residents the next morning].’

Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba said the deceased got shot while he was escaping a lawful arrest, the newspaper reported.

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Monday, 21 August 2017


The Industrial Court in Swaziland has blocked an intended sympathy strike in support of Nedbank workers.

Swaziland Union of Financial Institution and Allied Workers (SUFIAW) had asked members in all banks across the kingdom to strike on Friday (18 August 2017) in support of a long-running dispute over pay.

In Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, ‘secondary’ or ‘sympathy’ strikes are illegal.

The strike at Nedbank over a 10 percent cost of living adjustment continues.

In 2015 Swaziland was named as one of the ten worst countries for working people in the world, in a report from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The kingdom was grouped alongside some of the worst human rights violators in the world, including Belarus, China, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

The report called The World’s Worst Countries for Workers, reviewed the conditions workers faced during the previous year.

Among the worst cases in Swaziland the ITUC reported on the strike at the Maloma Mine which is partly owned by King Mswati.

It reported, ‘Some 250 workers went on strike on 24 November [2014], after the mine management refused to negotiate over a US$72 housing allowance with the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA). All legal requirements were observed by the striking workers, and even though the strike was peaceful, the workers were surrounded by police equipped with riot shields, protective headgear, guns and teargas.

‘During the strike, management refused the workers access to water, toilets and medical facilities. Chancellor House, the investment arm of the ANC, owns 75% of the Maloma mine, with the remaining 25% owned by the Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, a fund controlled by King Mswati III, who is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchs.’

ITUC also reported that the Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, ‘publicly threatened Sipho Gumedze from the Lawyers for Human Rights and TUCOSWA [Trade Union Congress of Swaziland] General Secretary Vincent Ncongwane because of their participation in the US Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC. 

‘Prime Minister Dlamini made the following statement during a speech in Parliament: “They leave your constituencies and do not even inform you where they are going and once they come back and you find out that they are from your constituency you must strangle them.”’

A week after that report was issued, the International Labour Organization (ILO) told Swaziland it must stop interfering in the activities of trade unions; ensure workers’ organizations are fully assured of their rights and ensure they have the autonomy and independence they need to represent workers.
The ILO placed Swaziland in a ‘special paragraph’ in its annual report to highlight the deficiencies in the kingdom’s commitment to freedom of association.

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Thursday, 17 August 2017


King Mswati III, Swaziland’s absolute monarch, mislead when he told a television reporter that the constitution in his kingdom was the will of the people.

In fact at the time the 2005 constitution was being drafted, the International Bar Association, a group invited by King Mswati to make comments, called it ‘flawed’ and ‘a fraud’.

King Mswati said in an interview with the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) uploaded to the Internet on Monday (14 August 2017), ‘When we created the constitution, this constitution which went around the people of this country, every Swazi participated... was invited to come make a submission in terms of how you want to see your constitution of this country, even when the constitution was drafted before it was actually adopted.  It also was to give back to the nation, to read, and everyone was able to be given a chance to make submissions and to comment... this was a process that took some years, so we finally have a product of after nine years of consultation.’

He also said Swaziland was a democratic nation ‘in the sense that it is people driven. It is not a one person state. It is the people saying this is how we want to be governed.’

The King and his supporters have maintained for years that the Swazi Constitution is legitimate and the will of the people. However, the International Bar Association , a group of experienced lawyers, was called in by King Mswati III in 2003 to comment on the first draft of the constitution. It called the process ‘flawed’ and reported that one critic went so far as to call it a ‘fraud’.  The resulting report called Striving for Democratic Governance was stark in its criticism of both the process of ‘consultation’ on the constitution and the wording of the document itself.

One of the IBA’s main conclusions was that the ‘position and powers’ of some ‘stakeholders’ in Swaziland ‘including the Monarchy’ are in effect ‘actually placed above the Constitution and its principles’.

The IBA studied what was going on during the drafting process, which was controlled by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).

The CRC did not allow the judiciary or NGOs to contribute to the drafting process and ensured that individual Swazi people were interviewed in the presence of their chiefs. As a result the ‘overwhelming’ majority wanted the King to keep all his powers and wanted the position of traditional advisers to the King to be strengthened. They also wanted Swazi customs to have supremacy over any international rights obligations.

The IBA report states, ‘The terms of reference of the Commission did not allow expressly for group submissions, and as apparently they were not entertained, NGOs per se were effectively prevented from commenting. The IBA panel considers that, unfortunately, this in itself deprived the CRC of much valuable input.’

The IBA report goes on, ‘The CRC also faced a number of practical problems. There were disputes between local chiefs, collecting views during the rainy season in Swaziland was difficult, and several Commission members resigned.

‘The extent to which individual Swazis were consulted has also been questioned. The CRC did not keep records of the submissions it received and media coverage of submissions was apparently banned.

‘There is therefore no formal record of how Swazi citizens presented their views and of what in fact they said to the CRC.

‘Furthermore, information was elicited in a highly charged atmosphere. Individuals were reportedly asked, in the presence of chiefs, whether they wanted to retain the King and whether they preferred political parties.

‘The CRC report states that “there is a small minority which recommends that the powers of the monarchy must be limited” and continued that “an overwhelming majority of the nation recommends that political parties must be banned”.

‘The report concludes that “an overwhelming majority recommends that the system of Government based on the Tinkhundla must continue” and, as well as the ban on political parties being maintained, that the executive powers of the King should be maintained, the position of traditional advisers to the King strengthened, and Swazi customs have supremacy over any contrary international rights obligations.’

In November 2007 the Swaziland High Court ruled that documents pertaining to the drafting process could not be made available for public scrutiny, thereby allowing the ruling elite to maintain the fiction of full consultation.

Under the constitution the monarchy remains above the law and political parties are banned.
Many organisations have called for Swaziland’s constitution to be rewritten to make the kingdom more democratic.

In July 2008 the European Union declined an invitation to monitor the Swaziland national election later that year because, it said, it was clear the kingdom was not a democracy. Later, it suggested a wholesale review of the constitution was in order.

In November 2008 the Commonwealth Expert Team, which had monitored the election called for a review because the elections were not credible since political parties were banned in Swaziland. It said that the review ‘should be carried out through a process of full consultation with Swazi political organisations and civil society (possibly with the support of constitutional experts).’

After the most recent national election in 2013, the African Union (AU) mission that observed it called for fundamental changes in the kingdom to ensure people have freedom of speech and of assembly. The AU said the Swaziland Constitution guaranteed ‘fundamental rights and freedoms including the rights to freedom of association’, but in practice ‘rights with regard to political assembly and association are not fully enjoyed’. The AU said this was because political parties were not allowed to contest elections.

The AU urged Swaziland to review the Constitution, especially in the areas of ‘freedoms of conscience, expression, peaceful assembly, association and movement as well as international principles for free and fair elections and participation in electoral process’.

In 2015, following a visit to Swaziland, a Commonwealth mission renewed its call for the constitution to be reviewed so the kingdom could move toward democracy.

In its report on the 2013 elections, the Commonwealth observers recommended that measures be put in place to ensure separation of powers between the government, parliament and the courts so that Swaziland was in line with its international commitments.

They also called on the Swaziland Constitution to be ‘revisited’.

The report stated, ‘This should ideally be carried out through a fully inclusive, consultative process with all Swazi political organisations and civil society (needed, with the help of constitutional experts), to harmonise those provisions which are in conflict. The aim is to ensure that Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal.’

It also recommended that a law be passed to allow for political parties to take part in elections, ‘so as to give full effect to the letter and spirit of Section 25 of the Constitution, and in accordance with Swaziland’s commitment to its regional and international commitments’.

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Wednesday, 16 August 2017


King Mswati III failed in his promise to have a new SADC-wide university up and running in Swaziland before his time as chair of the organisation ends this week (August 2017).

King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, announced in August 2016 after assuming the chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that a ‘university of transformation’ taking students from all over the region would open by the time he stood down from the office.

Both the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, and the Swazi Observer, which is in effect owned by the King, reported on 31 August 2016 that King Mswati told the SADC heads of state summit held at Lozitha, ‘This initiative will give new hope and opportunity to our youth and our women. The intention is to have the first intake of students prior to the 37th SADC summit in 2017.’

That summit is about to start and the university remains a pipe-dream.

On Monday (14 August 2017) the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation reported the King saying about the university, ‘We are still looking at strategies and all that in terms of mobilising resources.’

The King and the media in Swaziland that enthusiastically and uncritically reported his initial statement, gave no indication of where the money would come from for the project, who would teach at the university, what academic programmes it would run, and how programmes would be administered.

The University of Swaziland (UNISWA), the kingdom’s largest and oldest university, has been unable to start teaching first year students this academic year because the government has delayed in awarding scholarships. Over many years students have been protesting against cuts in scholarships and lack of resources.

Shortly after his announcement of the new university the King said it would be hosted by Limkokwing University, a private institution which has come under fire for its poor standards.
According to its website, Limkokwing in Swaziland only offers ‘associate degrees’ which are at a level below Bachelor degrees and in many universities are known as diplomas.

In June 2012, Bandile Mkhonta, Head of Human Resource for Limkokwing in Mbabane, Swaziland, told local media that of 53 professional staff at the university only one had a Ph.D doctorate. A Ph.D is usually considered by universities to be the minimum qualification required to be given the rank of senior lecturer.

Limkokwing in Swaziland had no staff at professor rank and no record of conducting scholarly research.

The failure to deliver the university is one of a long line of broken promises made by the King. In November 2009, King Mswati announced a plan partly financed from in the oil state of Qatar to build an E35bn (US$4.8bn at the then exchange rate) ‘world class facility’ that would store at least a three-month supply of fuel for Swaziland. It did not happen. 

In November 2012 the king returned from a trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Taiwan, claiming that he had secured Taiwanese investment to build a pharmaceutical plant, a food processing plant, a bottled water plant, a cosmetics plant and a granite and marble venture – which, according to a report in the Times of Swaziland newspaper, were expected to create more than 3,000 jobs. It has not happened. 

In April 2009 King Mswati III announced the building of a multi-billion emalangeni Swazi City, financed by international money and comprising a 25,000 sq m shopping, entertainment and ‘wellness’ centre ‘to rival the world’. There would be a Science and Technology Park, a hi-technology industrial Site and an expansion of the Matsapha Industrial Site. It would be completed by 2012, creating 15,000 new jobs. It did not happen. 

In October 2009 the government the King handpicked promised an E1.5bn ‘facelift’ for the Swazi capital city Mbabane. That money would buy a civic centre and a shopping mall, described at the time as a ‘fully fledged state of the art 21st Century Civic Centre befitting a country’s capital city’. Work was expected to start in June 2010 and take three years to build. It did not happen.

In October 2010, the Swazi Government announced its ‘fiscal adjustment roadmap’ to save the kingdom’s economy. This would include attracting investment to create, ‘between 25,000 and 30,000 new jobs’ in the private sector. These jobs have not materialised. 

In 1998 King Mswati was said to have teamed up with pop singer Michael Jackson to bring a ‘Netherland-style’ theme park to Swaziland.

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Tuesday, 15 August 2017


Swaziland’s police chief Isaac Magagula has denied his officers use sex workers without paying. His comment came when he said prostitutes were an ‘infestation of our cities’.

Police have been clamping down against female sex workers across the kingdom. At least 30 have appeared in court and been given jail sentences or fines.
In a statement published in Swazi media on Sunday (13 August 2017) National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula said it was wrong to say that sex workers, ‘are targeted because of sour grapes that police officers are failing to pay for services rendered’.

He did not state that police officers did not use the services of prostitutes. Prostitution is illegal in Swaziland.

There is a lot of evidence that policeman in Swaziland use prostitutes. One of the few surveys done on female sex workers listed police officers among their ‘commonest clients.’

Separately, in 2010, Alec Lushaba, then editor of the Weekend Observer newspaper in Swaziland, wrote, ‘In a country known for its skyrocketing HIV and AIDS rates, conservatism, Christianity and traditional mores, it may come as a surprise that the abuse and rape of sex workers in Swaziland at the hands of police is a growing and widespread problem.

‘Sex work, known as one of the oldest trades, is still illegal in the country, yet sex workers have reported targeted campaigns of rape and violence at the hands of Swazi police.’

In an article published by Gender Links, Lushaba wrote, ‘A recent report by Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAAGA), in partnership with other local organisations, noted: “It is not just that they are arrested, to a greater or lesser degree they are forced by police to comply with demands for free sex or sex in exchange for not being arrested.”

‘27 percent of the sex workers have at some point been arrested by state police for loitering. 60 percent of those arrested end up being sexually and physically abused by the police.’

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Monday, 14 August 2017


The European Union Ambassador to Swaziland Nicola Bellomo has severely criticised the legal system in the kingdom ruled by autocratic monarch King Mswati III. He said even a child could be made a judge.

Bellomo who is soon to leave Swaziland told the Nation Magazine the rule of law did not prevail in Swaziland.

The Nation, an independent magazine of comment in a kingdom where censorship and self-censorship is rife, reported (August 2017), ‘The judiciary in this country has yet to find its footing and earn the respect it once had. It is a mess, right now. But, at least, there’s an acknowledgement that there is still a lot of work to do to get the country's judicial system on the right track. A country that has the kind of judicial system we have, where even a child can become a judge, cannot attract investment.’

The Nation called Bellomo’s comments ‘a scathing attack at the judiciary’.

The magazine reported Bellomo saying, ‘On the rule of law, there are structural problems beyond the political issues. If you have courts with ten judges who can hardly meet the expectations of the country, then you have structural issues. 

‘Then of course you have issues with the judges, like the one who was allowed to sit on the bench and yet did not qualify. That is something shocking for a rule of law country.’

Bellomo is not the first to draw attention to Swaziland’s broken legal system. In February 2016, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) reported King Mswati III’s absolute monarchy in Swaziland ‘ultimately is incompatible with a society based on the rule of law’

The report, Justice Locked Out: Swaziland’s Rule of Law Crisis, called on Swaziland’s Constitution to be amended to bring it in line ‘with regional and universal international law and standards, in particular on the separation of powers and respect for judicial independence.

An international mission investigated Swaziland following the attempted arrest and the impeachment of former Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi and the arrest of the Minister of Justice Sibusiso Shongwe, two High Court judges Mpendulo Simelane and Jacobus Annandale and High Court Registrar Fikile Nhlabatsi in April 2015. 

The report stated the judicial crisis was ‘part of a worrying trend of repeated interference by the Executive and of the Judiciary’s inability to defend its independence, exacerbated by apparent strife within the ruling authorities of Swaziland.  

‘Swaziland’s Constitution, while providing for judicial independence in principle, does not contain the necessary safeguards to guarantee it. Overall, the legislative and regulatory framework falls short of international law and standards, including African regional standards.’

It added, ‘The mission found that some members of the Judiciary have exercised their mandate with a lack of integrity and professionalism. In particular, former Chief Justice Ramodibedi failed to protect and defend the institutional independence of the Judiciary, and played a reprehensible role in undermining both the institutional independence of the Judiciary and that of individual judges in Swaziland. 

‘He also presided over, or was involved in the case allocation of, legal proceedings in which he had a personal interest or in which he acted at the apparent behest of members of the Executive, further undermining the independence and impartiality of the Judiciary.  

‘Based upon its independent research, including its consultations with various stakeholders, the fact-finding mission determined that this latest crisis has served to expose already existing divisions within and between the Judiciary and the Executive.  The consequence has been an abuse of the justice system to settle political scores, further damaging the independence of the Judiciary in the process.  

‘Overall, the events that triggered the international fact-finding mission are both a reflection of a systemic crisis and potentially a contributing factor to its deepening further. In light of its findings, this report includes the fact-finding mission’s recommendations for reform to the Crown, Executive and Legislature, the Judiciary, the legal profession, the international community and civil society, which it considers will strengthen the rule of law, respect for human rights and access to justice and effective remedies in the Kingdom of Swaziland.’

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Saturday, 12 August 2017


Police have clamped down on sex workers operating on the streets of Swaziland. At least thirty have been given jail sentences with the option of a fine.

The arrested women say they have to do this work as they are unemployed and will go hungry.
The move has caused  the Swazi police chief to defend his officers’ action, saying they are only upholding the law.

Towns including the Swaziland capital Mbabane and the main commercial city Manzini have been targeted.

The arrested sex workers were give jail sentences of four months with the option of an E400 fine. In Swaziland seven in ten people have incomes less than E26 a day.

Lawyers for Human Rights in Swaziland said the arrests of the women was discriminatory because only the women and not their male clients were targeted. The arrests contravened the Swaziland Constitution which stated all people were equal under the law.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday (8 August 2017), ‘Well-known human rights lawyer Sipho Gumedze pointed out that the Crimes Act, in terms of which the sex workers were charged, was a legislation that was enacted during the dark years when black people were still considered subhuman by the colonial white settlers.’

National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula responded to media criticism of the police action. The Swazi Observer on Tuesday quoted him saying, ‘As long as laws prohibiting prostitute activities in the land are still there, don’t blame us when cracking the whip as it is our mandate to see to it that such laws are enforced.’

Manzini South Constituency Member of Parliament Owen Nxumalo who is also the Minister of Public Services told the Times of Swaziland newspaper that women could be helped away from prostitution through the Regional Development Fund.  ‘We have a fund that is aimed at alleviating poverty among the constituents and it can be accessible to them instead of engaging in sex work, which will end up being a drain to the country financially,’ the newspaper quoted him saying. 

In May 2017 it was reported that poverty-stricken parents of girls as young as fourteen were giving them to soldiers for sex in exchange for food.  

In July 2016 it was reported that women temporary employees at Swaziland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) had been forced to have sex with their bosses to keep their jobs.

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