Friday, November 29, 2013


Swaziland police broke up a screening of a documentary critical of King Mswati III and detained the owner of the studio.

Swazi police, acting without a warrant or court order, broke up the screening of The King and the People at a studio at the Christian Media Centre in Manzini.

The screening had been organised by the Swaziland United Democratic Front, an organisation campaigning for democracy in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

About 50 people had gathered to watch the documentary when police arrived and closed down the screening. They detained the owner of the studio and questioned him for about three hours, according to reports from Swaziland.

The King and the People, made by Simon Bright, is a recently-released documentary that investigates the present situation in Swaziland. It has been shown across the world.

In a preview of the movie, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) said, ‘The film shines a light on a crisis forgotten or misunderstood by many and unravels the reality of the existence, in the 21st century, of a governing system that is based on royal supremacy, greed, power and zero tolerance to fundamental human rights.’

Percy Zvomuya, who reviewed the documentary for OSISA, said, ‘In the movie, there are gritty, frenetic close-up shots of activists on strikes and state thugs beating them up. The grit is placed side by side with the rather drowsy shots of talking heads: an academic, a teacher, an activist and a politician deconstructing the crisis.’

He added, ‘But connecting all of this is a sad story of a country (or half a country?) presided over by an elite that controls the executive, the legislature, the judiciary, business and the media. A scene in which the king is seen having 'consultations' with his subjects gives new meaning to the phrase “bootlicking”.’

The breaking up of the public gathering is not the first of its kind in Swaziland. In April 2013 armed police physically stopped people from entering a public meeting at a restaurant that was called to discuss the undemocratic nature of the impending national election. Police said it ‘presented a threat to national security’.

In March 2013, riot police with batons halted a prayer meeting in Manzini because it had been organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), an unregistered organisation in the kingdom. 

In February 2013 about 60 armed police broke up another prayer meeting, this time at the Our Lady of Assumption Catholic cathedral in Manzini.  Police said the prayer was a political meeting, organised to disrupt the election that was later held in September.

See also




Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Swazi parliamentarians have been instructed not to get divorced during the next five years as this would embarrass King Mswati III.

Gelane Zwane, the president of the Swazi Senate, also told them not to have sexual affairs with Parliament staff.

Zwane gave her instructions during a two-day workshop to orientate members of parliament and senators on their role. This follows the recent national election.

Zwane told the members of parliament and senators on Monday (25 November 2013) to forget about divorce now that they were in parliament as it was embarrassing not only to themselves but to the King as well, the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati reported.

Zwane directed most of her comments to women parliamentarians, the newspaper reported.

The Observer reported, ‘Speaking during the orientation workshop of the parliamentarians yesterday, Zwane said if they had problems with their spouses, they should find alternative ways of avoiding embarrassing situations such as divorce. 

‘She said if anyone of them was already in the middle of a divorce process, they should just stall and wait until their term of office was over.’

She added it was bad to associate the King with people who are seen to be leaving their spouses once they get into leadership positions such as those in parliament.

She added, ‘Such things are embarrassing to come from parliamentarians. Do it for the King at least for the next five years, then sort your personal issues after the end of your term.’

King Mswati himself has at least 14 wives (the exact number is a state secret). one had a very public affair with a serving cabinet minister before being expelled from the Royal Household. Another two of his wives reportedly fled the King and are now in exile.

Zwane also warned MPs not to have ‘intimate relationships’ with parliamentary staff.

The Observer reported her saying, ‘You are going to find very beautiful ladies in parliament offices. Don’t you dare get intimate with them, no matter how tempting.

‘We would have to discipline these people because once they get intimate with honourables, they feel important and it becomes very difficult to work with them. We would have to discipline them, or even fire them, and this could cause problems for parliament.’

See also


Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini told parliamentarians their duty was to the king above all else.

This is the latest twist in the national election that took place in Swaziland in September 2013. King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, and political parties were banned from taking part in the election.

Dlamini, who was directly appointed Prime Minister by the King, gave his instructions to parliamentarians at a workshop on their role on Monday (25 November 2013).

He told them, ‘We are here working on the instruction of the King and the nation.’ He said that Swaziland had a ‘unique democracy.’

He added, ‘This is because we were voted into power through the various methods permitted by our exclusive Constitution.’

However, in fact few parliamentarians were elected. Swaziland’s political system is known as tinkhundla, or a monarchical democracy. Under this system only 55 members of the 65- strong House of Assembly are elected by the people. The King directly appoints 10 members.

No members of the 30-stong Senate are elected by the people. The King appoints 20 senators and the other 10 are elected by members of the House of Assembly.

All cabinet ministers were appointed by King Mswati. Following the election he appointed nine princes and princesses to the House of Assembly and the Senate. He also appointed another 16 members of his Royal Family to top political jobs; effectively carving up public life in the kingdom in his favour.

Shortly before the election, King Mswati announced he had received a vision during a thunderstorm which told him that henceforth the political system in his kingdom should be known as a ‘monarchical democracy’. He said this would be ‘a system formed by merging the will of the people with the monarch’.

He went on to say in this system, people cast votes on a ballot box to decide leaders from community level. These leaders then work with the monarch in governing the country.

However, the appointments after the election were overwhelmingly of people who did not stand for election.

The power wielded by King Mswati was criticised by two independent international groups which observed the Swazi election. Both the African Union and the Commonwealth Observer Mission suggested the kingdom’s constitution should be reviewed to allow political parties to contest elections.

The Commonwealth Observer Mission added that, ‘The presence of the monarch in the structure of everyday political life inevitably associates the institution of the monarchy with politics, a situation that runs counter to the development that the re-establishment of the Parliament and the devolution of executive authority into the hands of elected officials.’

See also



Monday, November 25, 2013


PUDEMO follows Danish municipal elections
Kenworthy News Media, 22 November 2013

“I am surprised that Danish political parties are always looking for consensus. The ownership and respect for the process by the Danish people shows – why can’t we learn from that. We come from the old British political system where we are always contesting.” The President of Swaziland’s largest political party, the People’s United Democratic Movement, Mario Masuku, is speaking from a polling station in Gladsaxe, a suburb of Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, writes Kenworthy News Media.

Together with PUDEMO’s Organising Secretary, Wonder Mkhonta, he visited Denmark this week to follow the municipal elections. The two Swazis were invited by the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy and the Danish political party the Red-Green Alliance.

They come from Swaziland, a corrupt and poverty-stricken absolute monarchy, where King Mswati III rules with an iron-fist, and where everyone who questions his rule is deemed to be a terrorist. Something that Masuku and Mkhonta have personally experienced on several occasions, where they have been harassed and brutalised by police or locked up for as long as a year on spurious charges of terrorism or possession of political pamphlets, only to be released after farcical court sessions.

During their stay Masuku and Mkhonta met with several Danish politicians, including Copenhagen deputy Mayor for Social Issues Mikkel Warming, Gladsaxe Mayor Karin Søjberg Holst, and Danish MP for the Red Green Alliance Nikolaj Villumsen, and followed the election process from the opening of the polls to the counting of ballots.

And the two Swazis were impressed with what they saw. “The life of the Danish people is rooted at the local political level, says Masuku. “The elections are well-organised, transparent, accountable, without animosity towards other people’s parties, and there is no corruption or very little, because all the political parties are committed to working together.”

“In Swaziland, on the other hand, the local authorities do not have the capacity to implement their own policies because the king is in control of everything,” he continues. “It is impossible to implement anything even at the local level.”

But as Masuku discussed with the Danish politicians, transplanting a democratic system and tradition from one country, such as Denmark, to another, such as Swaziland, is not a straightforward process. “The problem of comparing Denmark and Swaziland is that Denmark is a democracy and Swaziland is a dictatorship. We cannot copy-paste all from the Danish system,” he insisted.

“One of the things that have made the Danish system and political environment strong is the social welfare system,” Mario Masuku concludes.  “The people in Denmark believe in this system they live it, and it is part and parcel of Denmark. I believe we need something like this in Swaziland.”