Friday, January 20, 2017

‘BIG HEAD’ JIBE ENDS IN COURT



In a bizarre case in Swaziland an 18-year-old woman appeared in court for saying her friend had a big head. 

Pigg’s Peak Magistrate’s Court was told Zandile Buthelezi, had an argument with a friend Simangele Dlamini about the supposed heavy weight of Buthelezi’s two-year-old child.

The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on Thursday (19 January 2017) that Buthelezi told the court, ‘Her teases angered me, it hurt my feelings to the point that I ended up insulting her, however, I thought it was an innocent statement made between friends. I was shocked when I was arrested by the police a few hours later.’

The case was adjourned until 25 January 2017.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

SCHOOLS RELIGIOUS TEACHING SHAKE-UP



Just as people in Swaziland are increasingly turning against Muslims, the Swazi Ministry of Education has said from Tuesday (24 January 2017) the only religion to be taught in public schools would be Christianity.

Until now, the Religious Education syllabus included Christianity, Islam, Baha’i faith and Swazi ancestors. The decision reportedly came from the Swazi Cabinet, which is handpicked by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Also, all pupils will be obliged to take Religious Education throughout their time at primary and high school.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Thursday (19 January 2017) that Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Pat Muir, said government was targeting the ability for school children to differentiate between morality and immorality and also to ensure that children were not confused.
The Times reported, ‘He said they believed Christianity was the best way to achieve this.’

It quoted Muir saying, ‘When they reach university or go to college, they will then be able to make a decision on whether they want to learn about other religions because then they will be matured and will not be easily confused.’ 

In recent times there has been widespread criticism of ‘Asian’ people in general and Muslims in particular.

In November 2016, Swaziland’s Director of Public Prosecutions Nkosinathi Maseko told a parliamentary select committee set up to investigate what the Observer on Sunday newspaper called an ‘influx of illegal immigrants’ into the kingdom, ‘most nationals of Asian origin were associated with terrorist activities’.  

In the same month, Muslims in Swaziland reported they were ‘terrorised’ by local police. The Imam of Ezulwini Islamic Centre, Feroz Ismail, said guests had visited the kingdom from across Africa for a graduation and Jasla Ceremony.

The Times of Swaziland newspaper on 23 November 2016 reported him saying the guests, ‘were abused while in the country. They informed me that they were terrorised by the police while visiting some tourist attraction areas including the glass and candle factory.’ 

He said police demanded that the visitors produce their passports and other documents required for visitors to be in the country.

The Times reported Ismail saying, ‘They were ferried in police vehicles to their hotel rooms as the officers demanded that they immediately produce documents which proved that they were in the country legally.’

This is not the first time police have been heavy-handed with Muslims. In September 2016, it was reported undercover police were infiltrating Muslim mosques to attend Friday prayers.

The Times, the only independent daily newspaper in the overwhelmingly Christian kingdom, reported that police were suspected of monitoring the Muslim community.

In September 2016, hungry people in Swaziland defied Christian leaders and attended a Muslim ceremony, because free meat was being given away. As part of the Islamic Eid-ul-Adah ceremony Muslims slaughter meat and give one third of it away to needy people.

When it was announced that free meat would be available, Christian leaders condemned the move and ordered their flocks to stay away.

President of the League of Churches Bishop Simon Hlatjwako was reported by the Times of Swaziland saying true Christians would not participate in the event and would not eat the free meat offered by Muslims.

‘True Christians should not dare set foot at the Muslim slaughtering ceremony,’ he reportedly said. He added, ‘Personally, I would not even bother myself; I do not care about their meat and ceremonies. Muslims worship their own god and as Christians, we do not go along with their god.’

The newspaper also reported Bishop Steven Masilela, President of the Conference of Churches, saying as they were the body of Christ, they were not allowed to eat everything.


See also
ALL ASIANS BANNED FROM SWAZILAND

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

SWAZILAND’S POOR RIGHTS RECORD



Swaziland has once again been criticised for its poor record on human rights by an international organisation.

Human Rights Watch published its review of 2016 and stated, ‘Swaziland, ruled by absolute monarch King Mswati III since 1986, continued to repress political dissent and disregard human rights and rule of law principles in 2016. Political parties remained banned, as they have been since 1973; the independence of the judiciary is severely compromised, and repressive laws continued to be used to target critics of the government and the king despite the 2005 Swaziland Constitution guaranteeing basic rights.’

Human Rights Watch is one of a number of international organisations, including Amnesty International and the United States State Department, that annually bring the shortcomings of Swaziland to the world’s attention.

Human Rights Watch reported, ‘Restrictions on freedom of association and assembly continued in 2016. The government took no action to revoke the King’s Proclamation of 1973, which prohibits political parties in the country. 

‘Police used the Urban Act, which requires protesters to give two weeks’ notice before a public protest, to stop protests and harass protesters. In February, police arrested Mcolisi Ngcamphalala and Mbongwa Dlamini, two leaders of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), when they participated in a protest action. Two days later, the police raided their homes.

The report added, ‘Political activists faced trial under security legislation and charges of treason under common law. The Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 placed severe restrictions on civil society organizations, religious groups, and media. Under the legislation, a “terrorist act” includes a wide range of legitimate conduct such as criticism of the government. The legislation was used by state officials to target perceived opponents through abusive surveillance, and unlawful searches of homes and offices.’

The report continued, ‘The Sedition and Subversive Activities Act continued to restrict freedom of expression through criminalizing alleged seditious publications and use of alleged seditious words, such as those which “may excite disaffection” against the king. Published criticism of the ruling party is also banned. Many journalists practice self-censorship, especially with regards to reports involving the king, to avoid harassment by authorities.

‘On September 16, the High Court of Swaziland ruled that sections of the Suppression of Terrorism Act and the Sedition and Subversive Act were unconstitutional and violated freedom of expression and association. The invalid provisions relate to the definition of the offences of sedition, subversion, and terrorism. Classification of organizations as terrorist, which the government had used to ban political parties like the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), was also ruled to be unconstitutional.’

See also

SWAZI TRIALS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED: AMNESTY

KING EXPLOITS FORCED CHILD LABOUR