Friday, March 31, 2017


Elected members of parliament in Swaziland have been told they are not above chiefs, because chiefs are appointed by the King.

King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The MPs were put in their place by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC).

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported on Wednesday (29 March 2017), ‘The EBC told residents that it was not acceptable have elected politicians to behave as if they were above community leaders.’

It added, ‘Chiefs remain superior to any other person in communities as they are the administrative arm of His Majesty King Mswati III.’

This was said by the EBC during a voter education exercise at Engwenyameni Umphakatsi. 

Swaziland is due to hold its national elections in 2018. Political parties are banned from taking part and King Mswati’s subjects are only allowed to pick 55 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly; the other 10 are appointed by the King. 

None of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people; the King appoints 20 members and the other 10 are appointed by the House of Assembly.

The King choses the Prime Minister and cabinet members. Only a man with the surname Dlamini can, by tradition, be appointed as Prime Minister. The King is a Dlamini.  

He also choses senior civil servants and top judges. 

Khethiwe Vilakati, one of the educators reportedly told residents of Engwenyameni, ‘Chiefs represent the King, so people must make that distinction. For someone to feel superior to the chief is very wrong and we don’t encourage it.’

In Swaziland chiefs do the King’s bidding at a local level. People know not to upset the chief because their livelihood depends on his goodwill. In some parts of Swaziland the chiefs are given the power to decide who gets food that has been donated by international agencies and then the chiefs quite literally have power of life and death in such cases with about a third of the population of Swaziland receiving food aid each year. 

Chiefs can and do take revenge on their subjects who disobey them. There is a catalogue of cases in Swaziland. For example, Chief Dambuza Lukhele of Ngobelweni in the Shiselweni region banned his subjects from ploughing their fields because some of them defied his order to build a hut for one of his wives.

Nhlonipho Nkamane Mkhatswa, chief of Lwandle in Manzini, the main commercial city in Swaziland, reportedly stripped a woman of her clothing in the middle of a Swazi street in full view of the public because she was wearing trousers against his orders.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017


Socialist Youth call for democracy in Swaziland now
Kenworthy News Media, 29 March 2017 

The International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) is calling for governments, regional bodies and multilaterals to pressurize the Swazi regime to introduce multiparty elections in the absolute monarchy of Swaziland, writes Kenworthy News Media.

“We are appealing to democratic governments, regional bodies, and multilateral institutions to raise the issue of Swaziland and hold the authoritarian regime accountable. We call for political and economic pressure on the regime … [and] a peaceful transition to democracy,” the IUSY wrote in a resolution passed at the IUSY World Council held in Rosario, Argentina last week.

The IUSY is an international youth organisation with UN ECOSOC consultative status. It has 134 member organisations in over 80 countries, including the youth league of banned pro-democracy party PUDEMO, the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO).

Denied freedom
The IUSY, amongst other things, urged international bodies to apply smart sanctions on Swaziland’s royal family until multiparty democracy was implemented. It also demanded the unbanning of political parties, removal of repressive legislation towards political parties and labour unions, an end to systematic harassment of political activists, and the unconditional release of political prisoners and the return of exiles.

“Swaziland remains the only African state that is ruled by an absolute monarchy … The people of Swaziland have been denied their freedom … since political parties were banned in 1973 by the monarchy,” who control the government, courts and economy, the resolution stated.

“The authoritarian rule has failed to transform the lives of the ordinary citizenry, as we witness that more than 60 percent of Swazis live below the poverty datum line whilst the royal family lives lavishly … The youth is faced with the reality of grinding poverty, HIV/AIDS pandemic and a very high unemployment rate.”

More pressure on regime
The world must put more pressure on Mswati’s regime, says IUSY Vice President Bheki Dlamini, who is also President of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO).

“Mswati must remember that there is no hiding place for his dictatorship. Young people from Swaziland and across the globe are demanding democracy and respect for human rights, and we shall not rest until Swaziland is politically free.”

The International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) was formed in 1907 as the youth organization of the Second International. It is the biggest political youth organization in the world, working to help promote strategies on issues such as poverty, gender equality and youth education and unemployment.

Several former IUSY leaders have gone on to hold office in their respective countries, including former IUSY Secretary General Per Hækkerup, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Denmark in the sixties; former IUSY President Fikile Mbalula, who is the current Minister of Sport and Recreation in South Africa; and former President Jacinda Ardern, who is an MP and member of the Shadow Cabinet in New Zealand.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Barnabas Dlamini, the unelected Prime Minister of Swaziland, who has a history as an enemy of human rights in his kingdom, will receive 80 percent of his salary for life when he retires.

He will also get a newly-built house and a top-of-the-range car. Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini will get a similar pension.

This is the first time such a retirement package has been sanctioned for the top Swazi politicians.

Barnabas Dlamini made this public on Friday (25 March 2017) in response to members of parliament who stalled a move to spend E5.5 million (US$72,000) toward building him a new house for his retirement. In Swaziland, seven in ten people live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 a day.

The Observer on Saturday, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, the autocratic ruler who appointed Dlamini Prime Minister, reported the payment had been approved in the Finance Circular No. 2 of 2013. 

A week earlier members of the House of Assembly had frozen a budget item of E5.5 million to build the PM a retirement house. They said the kingdom faced a dire financial situation and could not afford it.

Barnabas Dlamini was appointed PM by the King following the 2008 election. The King disregarded the constitution he had signed in 2005 that clearly states that the Prime Minister must be a member of the House of Assembly. Dlamini has sat in six parliaments, but has never been elected by anybody.

When introducing Dlamini as the new PM, King Mwsati told him publicly to get the terrorists and all who supported them. 

Dlamini set about his task with zeal. He banned four organisations, branding them terrorists. 

His Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini told Swazis affiliated with the political formations to resign with immediate effect or feel the full force of the law. Under the Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA), enacted the same year Dlamini came to power, anyone who disagrees with the ruling elite faces being branded a terrorist supporter and a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.

This happened at a time when the call for democracy in Swaziland was being heard loudly both inside the kingdom and in the international community. 

The Dlamini-led Government immediately clamped down on dissent. In 2011, Amnesty International reported the ill-treatment, house searches and surveillance of communications and meetings of civil society and political activists. Armed police conducted raids and prolonged searches in the homes of dozens of high profile human rights defenders, trade unionists and political activists while investigating a spate of petrol bombings. Some of the searches, particularly of political activists, were done without search warrants.

In 2010, Dlamini publicly threatened to use torture against dissidents and foreigners who campaigned for democracy in his kingdom. He said the use of ‘bastinado’, the flogging of the bare soles of the feet, was his preferred method.

Dlamini told the Times of Swaziland newspaper he wanted ‘to punish dissidents and foreigners who come to the country and disturb the peace’.

Dlamini’s abuse of human rights did not start with his appointment in 2008. He was a former PM and held office for seven and a half years until 2003. While in office he gained a reputation as someone who ignored the rule of law. 

In 2003, he refused to recognise two court judgements that challenged the King’s right to rule by decree. This led to the resignation of all six judges in the Appeal Court. The court had ruled that the King had no constitutional mandate to override parliament by issuing his own decrees.

In a report running for more than 50,000 words, Amnesty International  looked back to the years 2002 and 2003 and identified activities of Dlamini that ‘included the repeated ignoring of court rulings, interference in court proceedings, intimidating judicial officers, manipulating terms and conditions of employment to undermine the independence of the judiciary, the effective replacement of the Judicial Services Commission with an unaccountable and secretive body (officially known as the Special Committee on Justice but popularly called the Thursday Committee), and the harassment of individuals whose rights had been upheld by the courts.’ 

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