Thursday, September 27, 2012


Maxwell Dlamini, president of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), has been denied his university scholarship by the government because of his political activity, he said.

Dlamini was called to the scholarship selection board today (27 September 2012), where he hoped to be allowed to continue his law studies at the University of Swaziland, but he said he was denied for being a ‘progressive’.

Writing on Facebook, Dlamini, said he was questioned about his activities in SNUS and ‘why I cause all the noise in the tertiary institutions [and] why I want to overthrow the government.’ 

He added, ‘In the end they denied me scholarship for being a member of a progressives and causing noise in the institutions.’

Dlamini and fellow student leader Musa Ngubeni were arrested on charges of possessing explosives in April 2011 and spent some months in jail before being released on bail following an international outcry.  

Their court case is ongoing.

In March 2012 it was reportedthat new rules for students were being drafted to allow ‘at its discretion’, the Scholarship Selection Board to terminate a scholarship ‘when a student is a member, supports or furthers the activities of a banned entity’. In Swaziland all political parties are banned, as are a number of pro-democracy organisations, including the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) and the Swaziland Solidarity Network.

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A Chief in Swaziland has banned his subjects from ploughing their fields because some of them defied his order to build a hut for one of his wives.

Chief Dambuza Lukhele of Ngobelweni in the Shiselweni region made the decision because he said his subjects had disrespected him by not following his instructions.

Chief Dambuza Lukhele, who is a former Minister of Agriculture in the Swazi Government, had ordered residents to construct a hut and a cattle byre in a homestead occupied by his junior wife.
But, some of the chief’s subjects would not participate in the project saying they should not be expected to work at Chief Dambuza’s new home.

In a meeting convened by the chief he attacked the residents for disrespecting him and straying from what he called the fundamental values of the Swazi way of life, which were based on respect for the elders and communal projects.

In Swaziland, chiefs are appointed by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, to be his eyes and ears in rural areas. They can wield enormous power over their subjects, allocating homes, scholarships for education, and in areas where there are food shortages they decide who gets aid contributed by foreign agencies.

The Times of Swaziland newspaper reported that ploughing had been suspended in Ngobelweni, even though there had been rains and local people were ready to work the fields. Residents confirmed they had been stopped from working by the chief until construction at his wife’s home was completed.

Dambuza Lukhele is not the only chief in Swaziland leaning on his subjects. The newly-appointed Chief Sicunusa Dlamini of Mgazini has banned women in the area from wearing trousers. A woman who breaks the law is fined a chicken or E25 (the equivalent of three days’ pay for more than 70 percent of the Swazi population). The community police have been tasked with ensuring that everyone in the area complies with the order, according to the Swazi News.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


The Save Amos Mbedzi campaign has been formed.

It will be officially launched on 27 September 2012. Organisers are asking people to show their support by:

1. Downloading the campaign’s profile picture and making it your profile picture

2. Posting the link of the page on your Timeline or any group that you may be in.

3. Sharing the link on your Timeline or anywhere else

4. Inviting your friends to like the page

5. In any other possible way you can

6. Visiting:

7. Visiting:

To reach the Save Amos Mbedzi Facebook page click here

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Amos Mbedzi was spared the death penalty by Swaziland High Court Judge Bheki Maphalala because he had not intended to kill his two companions with a bomb.
Mbedzi, aged 48, was instead sentenced to a total of 85 years in jail on two counts of murder, unlawful possession of explosives, sedition, and illegal entry into Swaziland. The sentences will run concurrently and he will serve 25 years of this time, backdated to the time of his arrest on 20 September 2008.

Maphalala in his judgement said the Swazi constitution allowed for the death penalty in cases of murder but the court had discretion on whether to impose it.

He said, ‘Taking into account all the circumstances of this case, I am persuaded that this is not a proper case in which I should impose a death penalty.  In particular the evidence proves that the direct intention of the accused was not to kill the deceased but to bomb the bridge.’

In sentencing he refused to accept Mbedzi’s mitigation that he is married with three minor children to support and that his children stand to suffer for any punishment imposed by the court.

Instead, he accepted the prosecution’s case that the crimes were very serious. He said, ‘Their seriousness outweighs the personal circumstances of the accused’.   

Mbedzi was described by the AFP news agency as a part of the Umbane People's Liberation Army, ‘a secret militant group linked to the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), which sought to undermine elections that year [2008] until Swaziland allowed a multi-party vote’.

He had been convicted of attempting to bomb a bridge near the Lozitha royal residence in September 2008. King Mswati III had been expected to use the bridge later in the day. Maphalala said Mbedzi, a South African, ‘was engaged in violent revolution to overthrow the State’.

The sentence has caused outrage among pro-democracy groups, who see Mbedzi as a victim of King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) called Mbedzi’s sentence, ‘an open expression and declaration by the royal regime of its unwillingness to accommodate diverging views on the country’s political direction and future’.

The Communist Party of Swaziland called the attempt to blow up the bridge, ‘a brave and principled act of struggle against the illegal Mswati regime’

The Swaziland Solidarity Network said of the sentence, ‘This is a clear declaration of war to the forces of democracy in Swaziland. When people are left with no option to protect their human rights, they are bound to explore all possible means to realise them.’

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Two journalists at the state-censored Swazi TV were suspended from work for allowing an unauthorised item about King Mswati III to appear in a news bulletin.

It concerned the traditional Umhlamga Reed Dance that took place last week. A news report about the event sourced from Channel France International (CFI) did not give the king enough respect, according to Swazi TV bosses. The report mentioned the fact that sometimes the king uses the Reed Dance to find himself a wife from the tens of thousands of semi-naked women and girls, some as young as nine years old, who dance in front of him.

The media in Swaziland, where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, are highly censored when reporting the king and his large royal family – he has at least 13 wives, but the exact number is not officially known as this is considered information Swazi people are not allowed to know. Media reports in Swaziland of the Reed Dance generally concentrate on the large number (often exaggerated) of ‘maidens’ who dance for the king and how privileged and excited they are to be taking  part in the event.

The CFI report that aired on Swazi TV said the king used the Reed Dance to find a wife and said that the Reed Dance was not only about culture. This year’s dance was controversial because the ‘maidens’ were required to sing songs against political parties which are banned in Swaziland.

The CFI report on the Reed Dance was similar to many circulating in the international media that drew attention to the abject poverty of the king’s subject and his own personal wealth, estimated by Forbes to be about US$200 million. They also talked about human rights abuses in the kingdom.

Vusi Gamedze, the acting Assistant News Editor of Swazi TV and an Avid editor Ernest Mabaso, were suspended from work for 14 days after being accused of ‘gross negligence’, for allowing the CFI report to air, but the Times of Swaziland newspaper reported today (11 September 2012) the ban had been lifted prematurely and the pair were back at work.

This is not the first time there has been controversy in Swaziland over broadcast reports from foreign stations. In March 2011 the BBC World Service programme Focus on Africa that airs daily on state-controlled SBIS radio was taken off for several days after it ran an item that included interviews with people critical of King Mswati.

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stiffkitten blog
September 9, 2012

Reports: Swazis starve because of corrupt, undemocratic and inefficient regime

The Swazi government is largely to blame for the economic recession and subsequent increasing amount of Swazis who have to skip meals due to the financial mismanagement of the Swazi government, according to recent reports from the World Economic Forum, United Nations and the Institute for Security Studies.

The reports list low growth levels, government wastefulness and corruption, and lack of democracy and accountability as some of the main reasons for the economic downturn that has led to as increasing amount of starving Swazis.

According to the new Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum, Swaziland is one of the least competitive countries in the world – ranked 135th out of the 144 measured. The main reasons for this, says the report, are inefficient government bureaucracy and corruption.

The Global Competitiveness Report more specifically names wasteful government spending, lack of savings and budgetary balance, lack of government transparency, and health related issues such as tuberculosis, Aids and a low life expectancy as areas where Swaziland rank poorly compared to the other 143 countries in the survey.

The Swazi government’s claims that it is suffering due to the Global Economic Crisis is contested by another recent report, the United Nations Rapid Assessment of the Fiscal Crisis in Swaziland. Instead, the report claims that “weak governance and especially the lack of sound public financial management” are “key factors behind these developments.” “Even prior to the fiscal crisis,” says the report, “Swaziland was among the least growing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

The effect of the economic downturn, says the report, is amongst other things lack of food in one out of four of the surveyed households. “Some households were eating less than three meals a day, skipping for the entire day.” 63 per cent of the population live in poverty, 29 per cent in food poverty, says the report, making “Swaziland akin to a low income country.”

Finally, the Institute for Security Studies’ Situation Report on Swaziland says that the present Swazi Tinkundla election system, that amongst other things outlaws political parties and lets the king select the cabinet and many of the parliamentarians, “reproduces the prevailing political status quo in Swaziland” and results “in a parliament which does not have power.”

Swaziland is one of only three African countries that do not have multiparty constitutions.

The report also quotes a democratic movement that sees the “tinkhundla system as being the bedrock of the Swazi system of autocratic governance devoid of accountability; as a tool for entrenching economic mismanagement and corruption, poverty and inequalities.”

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Heavily-armed police in Swaziland have invaded the venue for a ‘people’s summit’ due to take place today (6 September 2012) as part of week-long pro-democracy activities in the kingdom.    

The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) reported ‘a large number of heavily armed and hostile police’ invaded the Bosco Skills Centre, Manzini, where the summit was due to start today.

Delegates from inside and outside Swaziland were gathering to discuss a number of issues around human rights in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Among the topics for discussion was the call for the creation of a People's Government and the writing of a ‘People's Charter’ that would clearly spell out the demands of the people of Swaziland.

The SDC reported earlier today that Mphandlana Shongwe, vice-president of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, one of the summit’s sponsors, had been ordered to go to Manzini regional police headquarters.

In a statement it said, ‘The police are said to be threatening the activists that have gathered, stating that they have been informed that PUDEMO [People’s United Democratic Movement] and SWAYOCO [the youth wing of PUDEMO] have called a meeting and such meeting cannot be allowed to continue because the said two organisations have been banned and proscribed under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, 2008.’

Later, the SDC reported police had allowed summit to proceed. ‘However, there still remains a large menacing contingent of the heavily armed police at the venue. Activists are bravely proceeding to Bosco Skills Centre despite the intimidation and harassment from the police,’ it said.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Sentencing in the case of Amos Mbedzi, which was due today after he was convicted of charges including sedition and murder, following an attempt to blow up a bridge near the Lozitha royal residence in September 2008 has, been postponed to 17 September 2012. Judge Bheki Maphalala said he needed more time before coming up with a sentence, having heard submissions from both prosecuting and defence counsel.

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Swaziland police tricked students into believing they were being escorted to deliver a petition to the government, but instead took them to a road with no exits and ambushed them, firing shots and beating them up.

Media in Swaziland are reporting that about 100 students were forced to flee across the streets of the Swazi capital, Mbabane.

The Swazi Observer reported today (5 September 2012) that the students were part of the on-going Global Week of Action for Swaziland and wanted to demonstrate under the banner ‘Relevance of the Education System to the Current Situation’. They wanted to deliver petitions to the Ministries of Labour and Social Security and Education and Training Students and the South African High Commission.

The students and other pro-democracy activists are this week drawing attention to the lack of human rights in Swaziland.

The Observer reported that police allowed the march to start yesterday morning. ‘At first the police officers gave the impression that the students were being escorted to the ministry but when they reached a certain road without any exits, they ambushed them. They ordered the marchers to disperse and fired warning shots, forcing the students to flee while those who could not run fast enough were beaten up.

‘One such person was a female student who lay on the ground as police officers beat her up with batons until some street vendors begged them to stop. When the officers finally stopped hitting her, she stood up looking confused, possibly from the blows she received and then vanished into the streets of the capital.’

The newspaper added police chased students to the Angela Cash and Carry. ‘The officers blocked part of the entrance to the shop while some stormed in and beat up the students who were hiding there. Shop attendants, who could not stand the sight of students being beaten up, fled the scene and in fact some were not aware the people being bashed were students.’

Ordinary shoppers at the cash and carry were also beaten by police. ‘When they stormed the shop, screams of people being assaulted with batons could be heard from a considerable distance,’ the Observer reported.

‘This was followed by the shoppers bolting out of the shop as police followed behind. One of the shoppers who were heavily assaulted could not run fast enough but kept walking while a police officer continued to hit him with a baton.

‘He ran as if limping until he stopped a few metres away from the shop after being slowed down by the heavy beating. After finally catching up with him, other police officers then surrounded the shopper and interrogated him, after which he was allowed to walk away. About two more others were also beaten up while another was saved by a shop owner who claimed he was not part of the students.’

The Times of Swaziland reported there was more police violence at the Mbabane bus rank when they tried to arrest leader of the Swaziland National Union of Students, Maxwell Dlamini.

At this time nearly 300 students had gathered at the entrance of the Swazi Plaza where they were singing and chanting political songs when a senior officer tried to speak to Dlamini. Students who believed Dlamini was about to be arrested came to his rescue and Dlamini escaped.

‘When the police officers started assaulting the students, Dlamini was nowhere to be seen and he was reported to have boarded a kombi to Manzini in a bid to evade arrest, the Times reported.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Police have fired teargas and made indiscriminate arrests as they blocked a prodemocracy protest led by students in Swaziland today (4 September 2012).

The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) reports police targeted Swaziland National Union of Students leader Maxwell Dlamini for arrest at the bus rank in the Swazi capital, Mbabane.

When Dlamini’s fellow students prevented his arrest, police fired teargas and used batons against the students.

Early reports say Dlamini escaped arrest and fled the scene and is being protected by students.
The SDC reports that a student from William Pitcher College who fled with the SNUS banner during the police attack has been arrested.

Mcolisi Ngcamphalala, National Organising Secretary of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), an organisation banned in Swaziland, is also reported arrested.

Students and other prodemocracy campaigners were attempting to rally in support of day two of a global week of action for Swaziland that is taking place to draw attention to the lack of democracy in Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Police set up roadblocks close to Mbabane to prevent protestors travelling to the city from other parts of Swaziland.

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Police in Swaziland are out in force to stop students and prodemocracy activists demonstrating for education for all in the kingdom.

Students fought with police in Mbabane, the Swazi capital, this lunchtime (4 September 2012) as they tried to arrest Swaziland National Union of Students leader, Maxwell Dlamini,

Reports from the scene at the Mbabane bus rank say that police and security forces vastly outnumber the students. State security forces fired teargas, beat up students and activists and drove them away from the bus rank towards the University of Swaziland, Mbabane Campus, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) reported.

Students had wanted to demonstrate as part of the second day of the Global Week of Action for Swaziland, to draw attention to the lack of democracy in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Police and security forces gathered in Coronation Park, Mbabane, from early this morning to prevent any rally taking place.

Students and activists from all over Swaziland tried to reach Mbabane, but road blocks were set up by police. PUDEMO reported that 13 buses ferrying students from the William Pitcher College in Manzini to Mbabane were detained at a roadblock mounted at Malagwane traffic circle by the police.


Students led by the Swaziland Union of Students (SNUS) will be marching to the Ministry of Education in Mbabane this morning (4 September 2012). The march is part of a global week of action for Swaziland. The students are marching to demand education for all in Swaziland.

The Centre for Human Rights and Development, Swaziland, reports more than 100 students are now gathered in Manzini in preparation to proceed to Mbabane where they will be meeting other students to proceed to the Ministry.

This is the second day of the Global week of Action for Swaziland and is devoted to education. Reports from Mbabane, the Swazi capital, are that police and security forces are massing in Coronation Park ready to stop any prodemocracy gathering.

The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a political party banned in Swaziland, reported that several buses were on their way to Mbabane filled with activists from Manzini, Nhlangano and Piggs Peak to join the demonstration.


Stiffkitten blog
September 3, 2012
Swazi democratic movement hopeful despite police clamp down

A prodemocracy rally in Matsapha was “violently dispersed by the state security forces,” police clamped down on activists in Siteki and Manzini and at least one activist has been detained, according to banned political party PUDEMO, in what has become almost routine at any pro-democracy rally or event in the tiny absolute monarchy.

Even so, there are high hopes amongst Swaziland’s democratic movement that the Global Week of Action that kicked of today could be an important step towards democracy in Swaziland, not least because it comes in the wake of a month-long strike by public employees that is said to have emboldened many Swazis.

The theme of the first day of the week-long Global Week of Action was hunger and poverty, a very pressing matter indeed for the over two thirds of the Swazi population who survive on less than a dollar a day, many on food aid.

“Hunger and starvation has reduced Swazis into beggars and recipients,” said Chairman of Lawyers for Human Rights in Swaziland, Mandla Mkhwanazi. “Many of our people have died of malnour-ishment, poverty and hunger which has been orchestrated by the royal tinkhundla system,” said Swaziland National Union of Students President, Maxwell Dlamini.

“Today we ask how on earth we can have a situation where we have food aid, as if we were at war, when we have enough to feed the nation. We have the capacity to feed and run this country, the problem is this government,” said Swaziland United Democratic Front Coordinator, Wandile Dludlu.

The Global Week of Action has become the biggest campaign for democracy in Swaziland, and this years’ event will include marches, seminars, workshops and a people’s summit on Thursday.

Throughout the first day of the event, a broad section of the democratic movement in Swaziland and foreign delegates spoke of the need for democracy in Swaziland and the connection between the lack hereof and increasing mass poverty.

“We support the Global Week of Action fully, it is part of us. We support every day, we support all the demands put forward,” said PUDEMO President Mario Masuku. “The call for democracy is just and necessary. We know the arrogance of the government of Swaziland,” said Joel Akhator Odigie from the International Trade Union Confederation. “The bible mandates us to share with the needy and poor. This is not for only Christians but everyone,” read a statement from Concerned Church Leaders in Swaziland.

And even though similar events in recent years have not managed to deliver the democratic and socioeconomic reforms that the democratic movement had hoped for, there seems to be a newfound optimism within the movement and the population at large.

As Swaziland National Teachers Association President, Sibongile Mazibuko, told Voice of America today, the recent month-long strike by public employees for higher pay has produced a paradigm shift where Swazis are becoming increasingly vocal in their demands for multi-party democracy.

“There was a paradigm shift from the previous people’s parliament, which took place five years ago.  That parliament was such that if you said you needed multiparty democracy, you were booed to sit down.  But, this time, people were listening carefully. I think the scale of teachers going around the whole country making people aware of how corrupt our government is has changed the people’s mind to think that why can’t we try multi-party democracy,” Mazibuko said.

Monday, September 3, 2012


Swaziland state security forces have violently dispersed a rally in the industrial town of Matsapha today (3 September) called as part of the first day of a global week of action taking place in the kingdom.

The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a banned organisation in Swaziland, reported that the rally started after activists went from door-to-door in the town distributing leaflets publicising the week of activities to draw attention to the lack of democracy in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

PUDEMO reported that during the day activists had been gathering in the towns of Siteki, Manzini and Matsapha. In Siteki, one trade unionist was reported arrested and detained by police.

Day One of the week of activities was devoted to hunger and poverty. ‘Hunger and starvation has reduced of our Swazis into beggars and recipients. They are prone to human rights abuse because of their position. We should all work towards eradicating that,’ Mandla Mkhwanazi, Chair of Lawyers for Human Rights in Swaziland, said.

Maxwell Dlamini, Swaziland National Union of Student (SNUS) President, said, ‘Many of our people have died of malnourishment, poverty and hunger which has been orchestrated by the royal tinkhundla system which has pursued skewed and discriminatory socio-economic policies. Poverty and hunger has reached terrible levels hence a total transformation of our society into a democratic dispensation is urgent and necessary so as to create a human society with food security and rid of hunger and poverty.’

Seven in ten people in Swaziland live in abject poverty, earning less than $US2 a day.

The week of action is set to continue until 7 September. Pickets and other activities will be taking place in Swaziland, South Africa and the United Kingdom.