Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Public perception in Swaziland is that corruption within  Government is ‘rife’, according to a new survey just published.

About 79 percent of 3,090 people interviewed said this in a survey conducted by the Swazi Ministry of Justice and Constitution Affairs through the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The Observer on Saturday newspaper (9 December 2017) published some of the survey’s results. It said, ‘Within the private sector and chiefdoms the respondents agreed that there were elements of corruption there, 36 percent and 29 percent concurred respectively.’

It added, ‘The survey states that the rural councils, bobandlancane (imiphakatsi) is where the corruption is perceived to be. 

‘The report states that perceived major causes of corruption are poverty (58 percent), unemployment (54 percent) and greed (41 percent). 

‘It is agreed that corruption comes in these following forms; giving and receiving bribes is high at 73 percent, abuse of power at 66 percent, misuse of public funds at 44 percent and misuse of public assets and facilities is at 40 percent. 

The survey said that corruption was also evident in education, transportation, civic groups, town councils, manufacturing, construction and the media. 

Corruption in Swaziland is not new. In June 2017, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) reported the kingdom, which is ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, was riddled with corruption in both private and public places.

It said, ‘The results of grand corruption are there for all to see in the ever increasing wealth of high-level civil servants and officers of state.’ 

It added, ‘For a long time the police, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade as well as the Department of Customs and Excise have often been implicated in corrupt practices.’

It gave many examples including the case of the government propaganda organisation Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Service (SBIS) where E 1.6 million (US$120,000) was paid to service providers for the maintenance of a machine that was neither broken nor in use.  The officer who authorised the bogus job cards has since been promoted and transferred to another government department. 

The report called The effectiveness of anti-corruption agencies in Southern Africa stated, ‘This type of behaviour is common albeit covert and therefore difficult to monitor as goods and services are undersupplied or rerouted for personal use. The results of grand corruption are there for all to see in the ever increasing wealth of high-level civil servants and officers of state.’

It added, ‘It has been suggested that Swaziland has no less than 31 millionaires who are junior government officials. In 2005, the then minister of finance Majozi Sithole estimated that corruption was costing the Swazi economy approximately E40 million a month.’

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Soldiers in Swaziland have once again been accused of sexually assaulting women at the kingdom’s border posts.

The latest accusation also says they are charging people to cross at informal border crossings into South Africa.

The Observer on Saturday reported (9 December 2017), ‘The army troops have been accused by women of abusing their powers by touching them inappropriately as they lay their hands on their buttocks just to allow to cross either to South Africa or into Swaziland. 

‘Some women when being searched for illegal goods alleged that they are touched almost everywhere by the male army officers and these informal crossings.’

The newspaper said the inappropriate behaviour takes place ‘almost every day’ around the Ngwenya informal crossing. 

A spokesperson for the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (the official name for the Swaziland army) denied the allegations.

This was the latest in a number of recent reports of Army misbehaviour at borders. 

In July 2017 soldiers reportedly forced a bus-load of passengers to strip naked after it crossed the Mhlumeni Border Gate into Mozambique. Local media reported it happens all the time. 

The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported they were ordered to strip ‘stark naked’ as part of a ‘routine body search’. The newspaper said the passengers had been on vacation in Mozambique.

In June 2017 it was reported women at the informal crossing situated next to the Mananga Border Gate with South Africa were made to remove their underwear so soldiers could inspect their private parts with a mirror. The Swazi Army said it happened all the time.

Soldiers were said to be searching for ‘illegal objects’ using a mirror similar to that used to inspect the underside of cars.

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Monday, December 11, 2017


LGBTI people in Swaziland are subjected to abuse in their daily lives and from police and medical workers, a meeting on human rights in the kingdom was told.

Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people are also harassed and stigmatised and some are denied educational scholarships because of their sexual orientation.

Pitty Dludlu, a member of the LGBTI community, said this during the annual Joshua Mzizi Memorial Lecture held in Ezulwini.

The Observer on Saturday newspaper reported (9 December 2017), ‘Dludlu appealed to the nation to embrace all individuals in their own skin than to label them with numerous name tags. Dludlu further said as a minority group in Swaziland they face a number of issues that include access to health care without the stigma and prejudice they are subjected to.’

The newspaper added, ‘Dludlu further decried the service they are subjected to in the hands of the police and health care workers as the worse abusers of the LGBTI community. The abusive situation is worse at the bus terminal station to the LGBTI community. 

‘Other challenges are that they are denied scholarship due to their sexual orientation. Dludlu further pointed that “qualified transgender community are unemployed as they are told point blank that there is no need to proceed with an interview once they see their sexual orientation and told embarrassingly that they don’t hire such people”’. 

There is a long history of discrimination against LGBTI people. In May 2016, Rock of Hope, which campaigns for LGBTI equality in Swaziland, reported to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review on Swaziland that laws, social stigma and prejudice prevented LGBTI organisations from operating freely.

The report, presented jointly with three South African-based organisations, stated, ‘In Swaziland sexual health rights of LGBTI are not protected. There is inequality in the access to general health care, gender affirming health care as opposed to sex affirming health care and sexual reproductive health care and rights of these persons. HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care services continue to be hetero-normative in nature only providing for specific care for men born as male and women born as female, thereby leaving out trans men and women as an unprotected population which continues to render the state’s efforts at addressing the spread and incidence of HIV within general society futile.’

The report added, ‘LGBTIs are discriminated and condemned openly by society. This is manifest in negative statements uttered by influential people in society e.g., religious, traditional and political leaders. Traditionalists and conservative Christians view LGBTIs as against Swazi tradition and religion. There have been several incidents where traditionalists and religious leaders have issued negative statements about lesbians.   

‘Human rights abuses and violations against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex population continue to go undocumented, unreported, unprosecuted and not addressed.’

It added, ‘There is no legislation recognizing LGBTIs or protecting the right to a non-heterosexual orientation and gender identity and as a result LGBTI cannot be open about their orientation or gender identity for fear of rejection and discrimination. For example, the Marriage Act, only recognizes a marriage or a union between a man and a woman. Because of the absence of a law allowing homosexuals to conclude neither marriage nor civil unions, same-sex partners cannot adopt children in Swaziland.’

The report made seven recommendations to the Swazi Government, including to review laws that undermine LGBTI persons’ rights in particular and human rights in general especially as they conflict with the Constitution; and to ensure prosecution of State agents who commit human rights violations against LGBTI individuals and their organizations.   

HOOP (House of Our Pride), a support group for LGBTI people, reported to the United Nation in 2011, ‘It is a common scene for LGBTI to be verbally insulted by by-passers in public places. [There is] defamatory name calling and people yelling out to see a LGBTI person’s reproductive part are some of the issues facing LGBTI in Swaziland.’

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