Thursday, December 31, 2015


The secretive annual Incwala ceremony in which Swaziland’s King Mswati III is alleged to engage in unnatural sexual practices, took place on Monday (28 December 2015).

The annual event is called a “sacred event” by traditionalists, but has been dubbed “un-Christian” and “Pagan” by others.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has been running numerous reports supporting Incwala. It quoted Swazi Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini on Tuesday (29 December 2015) saying, ‘Incwala just unites us as Swazis where we get to be together in one place and dance. This is also a way in which children are taught about life. 

‘So this must be preserved as it has helped so many people. For those who have disowned culture, they are facing different problems in their lives where some get pregnant before getting married; some dump children because they are not able to take care of them. So we need to go back to our own ways of doing things and respect culture.’

In 2014, the Observer reported, ‘The ceremony, which also marks the fresh fruits of the season, has a spiritual power that is largely lost on outsiders, and indeed many of its inner workings remain shrouded in secrecy.’

Journalists who try to report the event are harassed and in 2011 a street vendor who sold pirated DVDs of Incwala was hauled in by the police and handed over to traditional authorities for a grilling. He was ordered to reclaim all the copies of the DVD he had sold.

Failure to do so might have seen him banished from his homeland, local media reported at the time. 

A first-hand account of alleged activities at Incwala has been circulating on social media outlets for years.

In 2011the Southern Africa Report and Africa is a Country website, reported the eyewitness testimony of Incwala. Africa is a Country said, ‘The ceremony is cloaked in secrecy and marks the king’s return to public life after a period of withdrawal and spiritual contemplation.

‘Among its highlights is a symbolic demonstration by the King of his power and dominance in a process involving his penetration of a black bull, beaten into semi-conscious immobility to ensure its compliant acceptance of the royal touch. The royal semen is then collected by a courtier and stored, for subsequent inclusion in food to be served at Sibaya – traditional councils – and other national forums.’

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015


A court has confirmed that King Mswati III of Swaziland cannot sell or dispose of his private jet until a dispute over his alleged failure to pay a US$3.5 million debt is resolved.

The ruling was made in the British Virgin Islands on 23 December 2015after the East Caribbean High Court was told that there might be plans to lease the plane and then lease a second plane for King Mswati’s use.

There has been a long-running dispute between Shanmuga Rethenam, who owns a company called SG Air, and the King.

Rethenam, popularly known as Shan, succeeded in getting a freezing order from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in September 2015. 

SG Air claims that King Mswati owes it the money for repairs and modifications undertaken to his private McDonnell Douglas DC-9-87 aircraft in 2012. The case was heard in the Superior Court in Ontario, Canada, in June 2015, when the King won on a legal technicality.
However, pending possible appeals, King Mswati, through a company he owns called Inchatsavane, was forced to lodge a letter of credit for US$3.5 million with Canadian lawyers, in case he lost the appeal. The money was due to be released on 15 September 2015.

Since the Canadian court case, the Swazi Government announced it intended to try to lease out the aircraft, valued at about US$14.5 million, and in turn lease the King a larger, more luxurious jet, with the possibility of buying it at a later date.

The BVI Commercial Court was told the DC-9-87 was flown from Swaziland to South Africa and back again since September 2015. There was a dispute that this might violate the freezing order. The plane is presently at Matsapha Airport in Swaziland.

The freezing order means the King cannot dispose of the aircraft or its engines until the court case over the alleged debt is resolved.

The court order was made in the BVI because that is where SG Air is incorporated. 

The judgment of the BVI Commercial Court, delivered by Judge Gerald St. C. Farara, was that the freezing order on the aircraft’s movement should continue pending the outcome of the financial dispute.

Monday, December 14, 2015


The dialogue that disappeared
Kenworthy News Media
11 December 11 2015 

In September [2015], there were high hopes in some parts of Swaziland’s civil society and democratic movement that a dialogue with the county’s absolute monarch King Mswati III was on the table. Not least because of pressure from the Commonwealth, the USA and the EU. Three months later no such meeting has taken place and that hope seems all but shattered, writes Kenworthy News Media.

The meeting was to have taken place between king Mswati III, who has ruled Swaziland almost single-handedly for 30 years, and the so-called G15 group, made up of representatives from Swaziland’s civil society, trade unions and political parties SWADEPA, PUDEMO, Sibahle Sinje and the NNLC.

Room for improvement
Former President of Malawi Bakili Muluzi was to have brokered the dialogue, as he had both held meetings with Swaziland’s civil society groups and allegedly formed a personal relationship with the king.

Muluzi had been appointed Special Envoy to Swaziland last year by the Commonwealth due to his heading of a Commonwealth team that had monitored the 2013 Swazi elections.

Here his observer team had concluded that the elections were not credible and that there was “considerable room for improving the democratic system”, and that “legislation [should] be put in place to allow for political parties” who are presently not allowed to take part in elections in Swaziland.

Talks, dialogue or royal lecture?
Negotiations with Mswati were always going to be difficult, as he is an absolute monarch. Any Swazi meeting him is literally on his or her knees when having an audience with him. He or she is only meant to listen, not question what the king says.

On top of this, everyone seems to have a different perception of what the dialogue between the king and Swaziland’s civil society and political parties encompassed.

The EU seemed to believe that there was to be a dialogue about democracy between the king and civil society and Swaziland’s political parties, and subsequently attempted to help capacitate the G15.

The Americans believed that it was too early to discuss such matters and saw it as merely an icebreaker where the king was to meet with a G15 that was made up of representatives of civil society, not political parties.

And PUDEMO President Mario Masuku says he also saw the prospect of a meeting as merely an icebreaker, as this was what he had been told by Muluzi, as did the NNLC.

Level the playing field
PUDEMO, who say that they have been prepared to talk with the king and the Swazi government for decades, made several demands for a meeting to take place to level the playing field if there were to be meaningful discussions about the democratisation of Swaziland. They communicated these demands in the press amongst other things to quell rumours that they were “selling out”.

Amongst the demands was that all political parties must be unbanned, multiparty elections must be held, a new constitution must be implemented and the 1973 proclamation, where the king’s father assumed supreme power for the monarchy, must be annulled.

Several princes, governors and court presidents have expressed shock at the fact that PUDEMO dared make any demands to meeting the king at all, as “no Swazi could ever set conditions for meeting the king”, as one traditionalist put it.

This coupled with the fact that the meeting has still not taken place would seem to indicate that the king was never really intent on having a meeting with Swaziland’s civil society and political parties that might actually have produced any meaningful changes.

King must lead
Looking at a draft presentation, prepared for the meeting by one of the members of the G15, one cannot really blame him.

Amongst other things the document starts by thanking the king for his “willingness and openness in leading the nation”, acknowledges his concern “with the development of the country and of its people”, and commends him on his leadership and vision for matters such as the “desire to attain first world status” by 2022.

And even though the document requests the king to “engage in a process of national political discussion on our system of governance towards opening up of political space and the establishment of a system that also enables citizens to have the choice of participating through their chosen political parties during elections by the next elections in 2018” through a “genuine national and inclusive process of political dialogue and negotiation”, such a “change process”, it is stated, must “be led by the king”.

No real pressure
So what does the future hold for the G15-talks that are on the one hand muddled by strategic disagreements on whether to suck up to the king or make demands, and on the other hand seemingly breaking up?

Sibahle Sinje pulled out of the G15 team in November and rumours have it that others might follow, and an advisor to the king, Prince Masitsela, has stated publically that any chances of a meeting between the G15 and the king are now slim.

But an absolute monarch such as Mswati was never going to accept any challenge to his power as long as there is no real pressure on him, and for the moment there isn’t really any such pressure inside Swaziland.

And this is regardless of the fact that the USA have recently annulled the AGOA free trade agreement with Swaziland and the EU look set to exclude Swaziland from the EU duty free markets, and that this, combined with the loss in revenue from the Southern African Customs Union, could lead to a collapse in Swaziland’s economy.

Bridging the gap
Some members of the G15 still believe that enough pressure can be put on Mswati by the population as well as the G15 organisations to force him to the negotiating table, however. The goal is democracy, but also to ensure that the lower-middle-income country that is Swaziland will provide basic services for the two thirds of the population who survive on less than a dollar a day.

“Through initiating dialogue we seek to bridge a gap between the oppressed and the oppressor. An all-embracing open and democratic Swaziland is being built daily by true Swazi patriots who join hands in putting pressure on Mswati to listen. It is dialogue time your majesty, today”, says Wandile Dludlu, who represents the Swaziland United Democratic Front in the G15.

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