Friday, March 24, 2017

END OF FREE SWAZI PRIMARY SCHOOLING



Free primary school education in Swaziland is a thing of the past as schools are to be allowed to charge parents ‘top-up’ fees.

This goes against S29 of the Swaziland Constitution.

The Swazi Government pays E580 per child but this is supported by the European Union. The cost to European taxpayers since 2011 has been US$8 million.

School principals have complained that the money given to them was inadequate. Local media reported that some schools had declared bankruptcy.

Dr Phineas Magagula, Minister of Education, told a budget debate in parliament that top-up fees had been authorised.

Now, parents will be sent a bill for their children’s’ education. No additional money will be given by the Government.

Up until December 2016, the EU had spent a total amount of E110 million (US$8 million) to fund the Free Primary Education Programme in Swaziland. In 2015, it reportedly sponsored 34,012 learners in 591 schools. The EU plans to continue paying for the school fees until the end of 2018.

The EU started funding FPE for first grade pupils in the whole country in 2011.

The decision to charge fees contravenes S29 of the Swaziland Constitution which states, ‘Every Swazi child shall within three years of the commencement of this Constitution [2005] have the right to free education in public schools at least up to the end of primary school, beginning with the first grade.’ 

In February 2017, nearly E2.7 billion (US$216 million) was allocated in the national budget for the kingdom’s security forces that comprise the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF), Royal Swaziland Police Service (RSPS) and His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS). 

Security will take up 12.4 percent of Swaziland’s total budget of E21.7 bn ($US1.66 bn), up 11 percent from last year.

Education was allocated E3.5 billion.

See also
SWAZILAND: MASSIVE ‘SECURITY’ SPENDING

Thursday, March 23, 2017

SWAZI ELECTION CAMPAIGNING ILLEGAL



The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) in Swaziland has warned people it is illegal to campaign for the national election until they have been given permission.

That means until King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, sets the date for the poll. It will be sometime in 2018.

The warning came from EBC officer Siboniso Nhleko at a voters’ education workshop at Khuphuka. 

Political parties are banned from taking part in elections 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. 

International observers regularly declare elections in Swaziland to be not free and fair. 

After Swaziland’s previous election in 2013, the Commonwealth Observer Mission called for a review of the kingdom’s constitution. It said members of parliament ‘continue to have severely limited powers’.

The Commonwealth observers said there was ‘considerable room for improving the democratic system’.

They called for King Mswati’s powers to be reduced. ‘The presence of the monarch in everyday political life inevitably associates the institution of 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.’

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported on Tuesday (21 March 2017) Nhleko stated that campaigning at this point in time was illegal. 

The newspaper reported, ‘In fact, Nhleko said there was a specific period where elections candidates are allowed to lobby for votes from the public. This is usually after the nomination stage. Nhleko said anyone who would be found campaigning before this stage would, therefore, be hauled before court and face a criminal offence.’

See also

KING’S BOGUS CLAIM ON DEMOCRACY

FALSE CLAIM OVER SWAZI DEMOCRACY

THE CASE FOR POLITICAL PARTIES

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

SECURITY FORCES ‘NOT UNDER CONTROL’



Security forces in Swaziland are not kept under proper control, a new report on human rights in the kingdom has revealed. And, about 35 percent of the entire Swazi Government workforce was assigned to security-related functions.

The annual report on human rights in Swaziland just published by the United States Department of State stated King Mswati III ruled as an absolute monarch and he and his mother exercised ultimate authority over the cabinet, legislature, and judiciary.  

The report stated, ‘The King is the commander in chief of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF), holds the position of Minister of Defence, and is the commander of the Royal Swaziland Police Service (RSPS)and the His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS).  He presides over a civilian Principal Secretary of Defence and a commanding general.  Approximately 35 percent of the government workforce was assigned to security-related functions.’

The report added, ‘The RSPS is responsible for maintaining internal security as well as migration and border crossing enforcement.  The USDF is responsible for external security but also has domestic security responsibilities, including protecting members of the royal family.  

‘The Prime Minister oversees the RSPS, and the Principal Secretary of Defence and the army commander are responsible for day-to-day USDF oversight.  The HMCS is responsible for the protection, incarceration, and rehabilitation of convicted persons and keeping order within HMCS institutions.  HMCS personnel, however, routinely worked alongside police during protests and demonstrations.  While the conduct of the RSPS, USDF, and HMCS was generally professional, members of all three forces were susceptible to political pressure and corruption.’

The 33-page report concluded, ‘Impunity was a problem.  Although there were mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption, there were few prosecutions or disciplinary actions taken against security officers accused of abuses.  

‘The internal RSPS complaints and discipline unit investigated reports of police abuse and corruption but did not release its findings to the public.  In most cases the RSPS transferred police officers found responsible for violations to other offices or departments within the police system.’

It added, ‘Civilian authorities failed at times to maintain effective control over the security forces.’

See also

U.S. BLASTS HUMAN RIGHTS

SWAZILAND: MASSIVE ‘SECURITY’ SPENDING

SWAZI SECRET ARMS DEAL FOR IRAN