For more coverage follow us also on Twitter and Facebook

Sunday, July 31, 2011

$20m LOAN FOR KING’S VANITY PROJECT

As Swaziland’s economy grinds to a halt and destitute people are forced to eat cow dung, the Swazi Government has taken out a US$20 million loan to part-finance another of the King’s white elephants – an information technology park.

The loan, in the form of a line of credit, comes from the Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank).

But, there will be little opportunities for Swazi businesses to profit because 75 percent of the goods and services paid for by the money will have to be sourced from India.

The money is to help set up the Royal Science and Technology Park. When the scheme was announced in November 2010, the total cost of the project was put at E850 million (US$120 million). It was said building would start in April 2012.

Nobody, except King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch (and his hanger-on) believes the park is relevant to the needs of Swaziland.

The Minister of Information Communication and Technology Nelsiwe Shongwe said in November that the project would consist of a bio-technological park and an information technology park at Nokwane.

According to a report at the time in the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, Moses Zungu, the Project Manager, said the science park was the initiative of the king.

Which tells us all we need to know.

Swaziland is being bled dry by the Sikhuphe International Airport project which may end up costing US$1 billion by the time all bills are in. The airport is not needed, and nor is the technology park. But both have the public backing of the king, so (such is the way in Swaziland) both must be built.

Delegates from the International Monetary Fund are due in Swaziland in August to investigate how close the Swazi Government is to implementing its own Fiscal Adjustment Roadmap to save the kingdom’s economy.

I hope the first question the IMF asks is where is the money to come from for the Royal Science and Technology Park?

See also

FLAW IN SWAZI KING’S VANITY PROJECT

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2010/11/flaw-in-swazi-kings-vanity-project.html

NEW VANITY PROJECT FOR SWAZI KING

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2010/11/new-vanity-project-for-swazi-king.html

Saturday, July 30, 2011

UNIONS QUIT SWAZI DEMOCRACY TALKS

AFP

30 July 2011

SOURCE

Swaziland civil society democracy talks stumble

MBANANE, Swaziland — Talks on democratic reforms in Africa's last absolute monarchy stumbled TODAY (30 July 2011) as the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, the country's largest labour group, walked out of a civil society meeting.

The ‘national convention’, which opened yesterday, aimed to bring together civil society groups to map out how the small southern African kingdom could begin negotiations toward multi-party democracy.

But the labour federation argued King Mswati III -- who snubbed the gathering after being invited to deliver an opening address -- had not shown a commitment to dialogue.

‘Our position is that the king has refused to entertain the question of dialogue. He said this as recently as last year. It would appear that instead of strengthening our mass power we are busy talking dialogue, a language that the king refuses to embrace,’ said national organiser Fundizwi Sikhondze.

Sikhondze said unions would rather return to the streets to resume the demonstrations that have shaken Swaziland in recent months.

Pro-democracy groups, AIDS activists and unions have staged unprecedented protests across the impoverished kingdom since April, complaining about an economic meltdown that is threatening the livelihoods of the country's 1.2 million people.

Swaziland is battling to stay solvent after last year losing 60 percent of its revenues from a regional customs union, the government's main source of income.

The government has frozen public-sector salaries and asked unions to accept pay cuts, leading to mass protests that have been violently put down by security forces.

Growing public resentment has lent momentum to calls for Mswati to step down.

The king -- whose fortune is estimated at $100 million -- is famous for his jet-set lifestyle and lavish spending on his 13 wives, each of whom has her own palace.

See also

SWAZI KING SNUBS DEMOCRACY TALKS

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/swazi-king-snubs-democracy-talks.html

DEMOCRATIC SWAZILAND CONVENTION

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/democratic-swaziland-convention.html

WILL COPS SMASH DEMOCRACY TALKS?

The Council of Swaziland Churches has filed in an urgent application at the High Court to stop Swazi police closing down the three-day democracy convention being held in the kingdom this weekend.

The police successfully halted a previous meeting called by the organisers in March this year.

The Council wants the High Court to instruct the police it must allow the convention, which started yesterday (29 July 2011), to go ahead unmolested.

Specifically, the Council wants the court to issue an order ‘restraining the police from interrupting and interfering with the free movement of delegates and other invited guests and individuals for the purposes of participating in the meeting.’

The Council cites Section 26 of the Swaziland Constitution on freedom of movement in its action.

The convention is to allow civil society groups to discuss how Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, can be transformed into a democracy.

The Council and the South African-based NGO Phadimisa Bokamoso BaAfrica are engaged in a process they are calling Talks About Talks.

On 18 March, 2011, during the consultation process with civil society, the Swaziland Police stormed the meeting and demanded to know the agenda.

Police insisted that the meeting was being held unlawfully as no permission had been sought from the Commissioner of Police and the meeting had to be called off.

Khangeziwe Dlamini, General Secretary of the Council, said the Swaziland police have already said it wanted to stop and prevent this weekend’s meeting from proceeding as they did with the previous one.

See also

SWAZI KING SNUBS DEMOCRACY TALKS

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/swazi-king-snubs-democracy-talks.html

DEMOCRATIC SWAZILAND CONVENTION

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/democratic-swaziland-convention.html

CALLS TO PROBE SWAZI KING’S WEALTH

There are growing calls in Swaziland to open to public scrutiny a secretive royal fund worth several billion rands and for it to be used to help counter the kingdom’s worsening financial crisis, the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa reports.


Tibiyo Taka Ngwane is an investment fund with extensive shares in a number of businesses, industries, property developments and tourism facilities in Swaziland.

It was set up ‘in trust’ for the people of Swaziland by its first monarch, King Sobhuza II,
but it remains under the control of his son, King Mswati III, who has been accused of abusing it for personal gain.

Tibiyo is kept totally separate from government accounts and does not appear in the national budget or any of the economic reports now being used by the country to solicit financial bailouts.

Vincent Ncongwane, secretary general of the Swaziland Federation of Labour and member of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, said, ‘If this is indeed a national trust for the people of Swaziland then we should have the right to call on it in times of need -- and we are saying this is a time of need more than ever before.’

To read the full report, click here.

REPORT OF COW DUNG EATING IS TRUE

Organizations fighting HIV/AIDS in Swaziland were at first incredulous at reports that hundreds of impoverished HIV-positive rural residents were eating cow dung to give their stomachs something to digest before taking their antiretrovirals (ARVs), the IRIN news agency reports.


‘It seemed too sensational to me when I first heard it, but then an MP stood up in parliament and said it was in his area that people on ARVs were doing this,’ said Wandile Khoza, an AIDS activist in Swaziland’'s central commercial hub Manzini. ‘It has come to this; the food insecurity most Swazis are experiencing has come up against the world’s highest HIV prevalence rate.’

The Swaziland National Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (SWANNEPHA) confirmed that some of its members were consuming cow dung after MP Josephs Souza of rural Lugongolweni reported first-hand knowledge of the practice following visits to his HIV-positive constituents.

‘A rural health motivator took me to one of the patients on ARVs who is among those that now mix cow dung with water and then eat it before taking the tablets,’ the MP told parliament.

‘We have resorted to eating rubbish for purposes of taking our ARVs because they must be consumed after a meal,’ said SWANNEPHA in a statement.

To read the full report, click here.

See also

SWAZI HIV PATIENTS EAT COW DUNG

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/swazi-hiv-patients-eat-cow-dung.html

BBC RADIO ON SWAZI HIV PROTEST

For those who missed it, here is a report on BBC World Service radio about the protest in Swaziland to demand the government pay more attention to people with HIV and that ARV drugs are made more readily available.


The report is from the BBC Africa Today podcast of 27 July 2011.


For more on this story, click here.




Africa Today HIV protest 27 July 2011 at MySpaceFileHosting.comAfrica_Today_HIV_protest_27_July_2011.wav

Friday, July 29, 2011

SWAZI REGIME IS IN CRISIS

Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Statement

27 July 2011

The Swazi Regime in Crisis, Fails to Block Union Action......But Gets Lifeline from SA!

On Tuesday (26 July 2011) in the High Court in Swaziland, the Swazi Regime failed to block the combined forces of the trade union movement from demonstrating their right to protest against a range of reactionary government measures that are being forced upon them.

The Swazi regime is desperately trying to push through a swathe of measures that will impact negatively on the living standards of workers, and especially the most vulnerable amongst them. Apart from meddling with the National Provident Fund, fiddling with the taxation system and restricting legitimate industrial action, the regime is also desperate to maintain the nefarious mechanisms it uses to secretly siphon off money intended for development to finance its opulent lifestyle, most notably through Tibiyo Takangwane and Tisuka.

These are essentially personalised trust funds controlled by the Royal Elite, into which payments are made from public and private funds without a blush of shame, while the majority of the population remain impoverished. The Unions are rightly demanding that they be taken under public control and be subjected to public accountability and scrutiny. The Unions are also campaigning for reform of the Tender Board to prevent further corruption and state inspired kick-backs.

The court case represents a remarkable victory for the Trade Unions. They were able to put a powerful and legally irrefutable argument to the Court illustrating the failure of the regime to engage as they are supposed to do according to their own rules and regulations, and to also point out the impact such enforced measures would have on the well-being of workers. Despite the bias of the courts in Swaziland in general, the arguments put by the Unions could not be countered by the state who were left paralysed and looking ridiculous.

Undoubtedly, the mass mobilisations beginning to take shape outside of the court room in several centres across the country were also important for putting pressure on the regime and its courts. The combined union movement, with the support of students and many other sections of civil society, have today launched the first in a series of strikes, stoppages and other forms of protest against this cluster of ill conceived and anti-worker measures, and for once, the courts had to give way and agree.

Of course, all those who will take to the streets today and over the next period are under no illusions. They know that the regime will be provocative, that it will start to arrest and intimidate protesters. That it will use all the forces at its disposal to undermine the legitimate workers struggle, including use of the notorious Suppression of Terrorism Act.

This is a regime that is running scared. The economy is now widely acknowledged as being on the brink of complete collapse. The appalling mismanagement of the treasury is now globally notorious, to the point where even the conservative IMF and World Bank have criticised the regime for being unable to separate out Royal Profiteering from managing a government account. All the more reason why it is completely dumfounding to learn that this regime has been recklessly bailed out by the South African government.

It has come to the attention of the SDC that the SA Government have agreed to provide R1.3bn to the regime, and when civil society organisations in Swaziland itself and outside of the country, have requested that the SA government do the right thing, and refuse to bail out this rotten despotic blemish on the face of the continent.

Details of the ‘loan’ are still to emerge, and we still await a public announcement, indicating that the SA Government is aware that there will be public outrage, and rightly so. There is absolutely no doubt in the minds of civil society activists in Swaziland that the bail out will strengthen the hand of the regime, both in terms of maintaining its reactionary and bloodstained security services, and in providing a lifebelt for the lifestyle of the regime.

The South African government has lost a golden opportunity to show how a progressive government can support the growth of democracy on our continent, how it can behave differently to the neo-colonialists who seek to control and further subjugate the poor for their own narrow interests, and how a progressive foreign policy would not arm the oppressors, but seek to liberate the people. Why has the SA government not taken advice from those on the ground fighting against injustice? Do the SA Government have such a short memory?

What did the ANC leadership in exile say to those governments like Mrs Thatchers, who wanted to negotiate with the apartheid regime without involving the ANC and the Mass Democratic Movement? Has the SA Government no sense of what it means when liberation voices say ‘Nothing for us, without us’.

We anticipate that the SA Government will justify its decisions to bail out this despotic regime with reference to maintaining the peace, avoiding bloodshed, and to prevent further migration. We anticipate a stream of grand sounding diplomatic assurances, that the regime has been told (secretly no doubt) that they must reform, and allow for ‘normal’ political processes to unfold. But we remain unconvinced. For a start, you do not need a degree in economics to realise that this regime is absolutely incapable of either managing an economy, or of wanting to introduce democratic controls. You do not tackle barbarism by financing it!

The South African government must explain to the people of Swaziland what they have agreed with the regime. They must explain to the South African people who is liable for repayment when the regime defaults, as it surely will. Comrades in the ANC, COSATU and Civil Society must demand an explanation, and especially when the Study Group agreed at the last NGC on Swaziland has still to report.

Thankfully, the democratic forces on the ground in Swaziland continue to grow and deepen their influence, despite the antics of the crisis ridden Royal Regime, and the misconstrued support they have received from Governments who really should know better. The comrades of the Trade Union Movement, of PUDEMO and all other democratic forces deserve the support of all those who want to see democratic change in Swaziland, that represents the honourable, and only practical way forward.

STILL NO DATE FOR MAXWELL TRIAL

Stiffkitten blog

28 July 2011

SOURCE

Swazi regime stalls student leader’s court case

Is the Swazi government, ruled by absolute monarch Mswati III, trying to bleed student leader Maxwell Dlamini and his lawyers dry financially in the court case against him? Given the long delay of the court case, where he and fellow accused Musa Ngubeni are accused of being in possession of explosives during the North African-inspired Swazi uprising in April, this seems to be the case.

No matter what the reasons for the delay in Maxwell’s and Musa’s case, it is proving a financial problem for the two accused as well as their legal team, however, who are working pro bono [for free]. And there is also the obvious inconvenience of being imprisoned in a system that often tortures and manhandles its detainees and political prisoners, as happened to Maxwell Dlamini before the present court in order to force him to sign a prepared confession.

“The case is still at stand still with the lawyers still trying to get a trial date,” Dumezweni Dlamini of the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, of which Maxwell’s organisation SNUS is a party, says about Maxwell Dlamini’s case. “The case is taking quite some time for his lawyers such that it limits and also digs many resources from their commercial business. We only rely on the volunteerism of these attorneys.”

Other trials against members of Swaziland’s democratic movement certainly seem to show that the regime speculates in such stalling tactics, the most well-known case being that against illegal opposition party, PUDEMO’s, President Mario Masuku.

Masuku was imprisoned for nearly a year before his case was finally heard in 2009. There was no evidence whatsoever to substantiate the accusations of terrorism against him, even though terrorism is defined very loosely in Swaziland, and the judge released him the same day.

See also

ZIMBABWE YOUTH SUPPORT MAXWELL

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/zimbabwe-youth-support-maxwell.html

SWAZI KING SNUBS DEMOCRACY TALKS

AFP

29 July 2011

SOURCE

Mswati snubs democracy talks

Mbabane - Swazi King Mswati III turned down an invitation to attend talks today (29 July 2011)\on democratic reforms organised by civic society, including banned political movements and labour unions, officials said.

"We had invited the king as the head of state to officially open the event but we received communication that he won't attend," said Khangezile Dlamini, secretary of the Council of Churches.

"But that does not mean we won't continue," Dlamini told AFP.

The "national convention" was opening today with the main talks due on Saturday, aiming to map out a direction on how Africa's last absolute monarchy can begin negotiations towards democracy.

Dlamini said Swaziland needed a transition to democracy and therefore civic society groups had taken the initiative to give government a blueprint of how the country could achieve multi-party democracy.

"We see this as an opportunity for civic groups to meet and draw out a road map on how the country could begin the process of political negotiations," she said.

Political parties in Swaziland have been banned since 1973 and recently activists have been jailed and harassed by police.

Crumbling economy


Mswati faces growing dissent over his authoritarian rule and is blamed for the crumbling economy, as a deepening financial crisis has left his government unable to pay its bills.

Pro-democracy groups, Aids activists and labour unions have staged unprecedented protests across the impoverished kingdom since April, complaining about the economic meltdown which is threatening the livelihood of the 1.2 million population.

The country is seeking a bailout from neighbouring South Africa, after failing to secure loans from international lenders, which have insisted on reforms before granting loans.

Swaziland Federation of Labour secretary Vincent Ncongwane said unions will attend the convention to show their commitment to dialogue.

"Yes, we are attending. We don't want the regime to use our refusal to attend the convention as an excuse to seek the much needed bail-out, arguing that we don't want to talk," Ncongwane said.

See also

DEMOCRATIC SWAZILAND CONVENTION

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/democratic-swaziland-convention.html

Thursday, July 28, 2011

IS SWAZI MONARCHY FALLING APART?

30 July 2011

The Economist

SOURCE

Swaziland

A king at bay

Africa’s last absolute monarchy may be falling apart

THE government has run out of cash, and no one seems willing to lend it any without radical reforms which Mswati III, Swaziland’s king, seems loth even to consider. But the pressure is mounting. Civil servants, faced with wage cuts of 10%, are threatening to strike. Schools, deprived of state subsidies, may have to close. In a country with the world’s highest incidence of HIV/AIDS, clinics are running out of antiretroviral drugs for want of funds. Government suppliers, owed millions of dollars in arrears, have begun to demand cash on delivery, which the government cannot produce. The 43-year-old king has even cancelled this year’s celebrations to mark his 25 years on the throne.

This is the worst crisis that little Swaziland, locked into the north-east corner of South Africa, has suffered since independence from Britain in 1968. Most of its revenue comes from a regional customs union dominated by South Africa. But last year, thanks to an economic slowdown, this income, really a disguised subsidy, fell by almost two-thirds. As government spending usually accounts for nearly half of Swaziland’s GDP, this has clobbered the economy. Thousands of businesses went bust as the government slashed spending.

Unemployment rose sharply, with some 40% of working-age people already without jobs. Of Swaziland’s 1.2m people, nearly three-quarters live on less than $2 a day.

Earlier this year the World Bank offered to help bail the country out—on condition of certain reforms. The government agreed to halve its budget deficit with tax rises and austerity measures, including public-sector job losses. As it has met almost none of these conditions, international loans have been withheld. Because it is not a democracy, Swaziland fails to qualify for budget aid from donors such as the European Union. So the king has had to go cap in hand to his rich neighbour, South Africa.

As a Zulu traditionalist and polygamist like the king, President Jacob Zuma might have been willing quietly to oblige. Moreover, he is formally engaged to one of Mswati’s nieces. But the pro-democracy uprising in the Arab world has increased the pressure on Mr Zuma, at home and abroad, to treat despots in his own part of the globe more sternly.

His own political future may even depend on it. In the run-up to next year’s conference of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), held every five years, when all the party’s leaders come up for re-election, he is anxious to keep on side such powerful critics as the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the ANC Youth League, both of which strongly support Swaziland’s pro-democracy movement.

Swazi opposition leaders, who see the economic crisis as a blessing in disguise, have begged Mr Zuma not to hand their embattled monarch any cash unless he promises sweeping democratic as well as fiscal reforms. At a meeting with the king in mid-July, he is understood to have laid down some minimal conditions, including a modicum of political reforms, in return for the $220m-300m Swaziland is believed to have requested. With his back to the wall, the king is pondering his options.

SWAZI UNIONS TAKE TO THE STREETS

AFP

28 July 2011

SOURCE

Swazi unions take to streets in protest

Hundreds of union members took to the streets today (28 July 2011) in cities and towns around Swaziland to protest government moves to cut civil servants' salaries amid a deepening financial crisis.

Some 400 people joined the protest in Mbabane, the capital, while about 300 marched in Manzini, the country's commercial hub. Protests were also under way in two other towns.

"These protests are being staged in Mbabane, Manzini, Siteki and Nhlangano, and the intention is to awaken the people of Swaziland and the world of the urgent need to establish democracy in the country," Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions organiser Fundizwi S'khondze told AFP.

An AFP correspondent said the marches were proceeding peacefully. In Manzini, some 500 armed police stood guard but did not interfere with demonstrators.

Unions won the right to stage the protests late Wednesday after a court overturned a last-minute injunction granted to government to block the two-day strike.

The court gave the unions permission to strike Thursday and Friday (29 July 2011), but labour leaders said they would instead hold a one-day strike and follow it up with new strikes each month until King Mswati III, Africa's last absolute monarch, was forced to embrace democratic reforms.

"We will not stop these protests until government resigns," S'khondze said.

Swaziland is battling to stay solvent after last year losing 60 percent of its revenues from a regional customs union, the government's main source of income.

As the government has frozen public-sector salaries and asked unions to accept pay cuts, anger has spiked among public-sector workers, leading to mass protests in April that were violently put down by security forces.

Growing public resentment has lent momentum to calls for Mswati to step down.

The king -- whose fortune is estimated at $100 million -- is famous for his jet-set lifestyle and lavish spending on his 13 wives, each of whom has her own mansion.

See also

THOUSANDS PROTEST FOR SECOND DAY

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/thousands-protest-for-second-day.html

THOUSANDS PROTEST FOR SECOND DAY

Associated Press

28 July 2011

SOURCE

Swaziland sees thousands protest for second day

MBABANE, Swaziland — Thousands of people are participating in a second day of demonstrations in the small kingdom of Swaziland over the king's handling of an economic crisis.

More than 3,000 demonstrators gathered across the country today (28 July 2011), accompanied by armed police.

Protesters blame the absolute monarch for a shortage of essential medical supplies and a failing economy.

AIDS groups say the country faces a shortage of anti-retroviral drugs. More than a quarter of Swazis between the ages of 15 and 49 are believed to carry HIV.

Labor union negotiations also failed this week amid anger from members about the mismanagement of funds by King Mswati III. A court yesterday overturned a government application to stop protesters from demonstrating.

See also

SWAZI COURT BACKS PROTEST MARCHES

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/swazi-court-backs-protest-marches.html

THOUSANDS MARCH IN 5 SWAZI TOWNS

PUDEMO News

28 July 2011

The trade union movement of Swaziland under the banner of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland-TUCOSWA won at the industrial court against the Swazi regime which sought to ban protests.

The workers represented by human rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko won this case and according to reports from Swaziland: “as we speak thousands of workers are now assembled in five towns across the country to protest undemocratic rule in Swaziland.” says Fundizwi Skhondze the National Organising Secretary of the Federation of Trade Unions.

Among the demands the workers want the cabinet to step down. Prime Minister Sbusiso and his crew have failed to address major issues raised by the workers. Just a few days ago hundreds of people living with HIV AIDS marched to the ministry of health to demand treatment. They demand ARVs and other treatment. Organisers of the march received support from various other organisations.

On the other hand union leaders have cautioned one another against opportunistically using the state radio because of its bias and distorting reporting. Musa Sfundza of the teachers union in the Lubombo region says that when thousands of workers march the regimes media reports only 200; something he says is against the workers.

PUDEMO fully supports these demonstrations and calls for unity among workers. PUDEMO president Mario Masuku and other PUDEMO leaders are expected to join some of the marches in support of the workers.

PUDEMO calls on trade unions and organisations across the world to send messages of support to TUCOSWA.


See also

SWAZI COURT BACKS PROTEST MARCHES

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/swazi-court-backs-protest-marches.html

SWAZI COURT BACKS PROTEST MARCHES

The Industrial Court turned down an application from the Swaziland Government to have yesterday’s protest action banned.

In what is becoming a regular tactic, the government left it to the last minute before running to court.

In the past it has succeeded in scuppering the plans of unions to protest, but this time it came unstuck.

The government claimed that all mediation efforts had not been exhausted: the court disagreed.

The protest was stopped temporarily yesterday morning (27 July 2011) while unions and government went to court, but started later in the day.

The labour unions’ attorney Thulani Maseko told the Industrial Court that government knew about the protest action as early as 23 June, 2011.

‘It is clear that government has failed to address the issues raised by the labour unions, looking at the time frame these matters have been brought before it. The application in itself is one of government’s delaying tactics,’ Maseko said.

The Industrial court ruled there was no urgency in the government’s application and dismissed it. It said the government could make a new application if circumstances changed.

See also

STUDENTS HELD ON PROTEST MARCH

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/students-held-on-protest-march.html

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

STUDENTS HELD ON PROTEST MARCH

Several students have been detained during the protests today (27 July 2011) in Swaziland, the Associated Press reports.

Marches have been taking place all over the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The protests were peaceful but heavily-guarded, the AP reports.

More than 500 people demonstrated in the capital Mbabane while nearly 1,000 protested in the western town of Siteki.

The protests are against poor government in the kingdom which has led to a shortage of essential medical supplies and a failing economy.

AIDS groups have warned that the country faces a shortage of anti-retroviral drugs. More than a quarter of Swazis between the ages of 15 and 49 are believed to carry HIV.

Labor union negotiations also failed this week. Wandile Sifundza, a teachers' union leader, said members want a change to a constitutional monarch, who can be trusted to manage national finances.

WFTU DELEGATION TO SWAZILAND

World Federation of Trade Unions

Media Release

Athens, Greece – July 26th, 2011

DELEGATION TO SWAZILAND

A delegation of the World Federation of Trade Unions travelled to Swaziland on the 20th to the 23rd of July 2011 to express once more the long lasting solidarity of the WFTU and its affiliates to the Swazi people and their struggle. The delegation met with the trade union federations, with the leadership of the trade union organizations, with the leadership of the banned democratic political party, PUDEMO and with the leadership of other organizations.

WFTU was fully updated for the brutal and anti-labor policy the Swazi people are undergoing, the heroic struggle of the trade union movement and the political parties who are struggling against the harassments and the terrorism of the monarchy as well as for the positive steps for the unity and the common struggle of the all the federations and the trade unions under a common umbrella-confederation with the name TUCOSWA.

The WFTU delegation discussed with the trade unionists and the political activists for the initiative of WFTU to organize on the 14th September 2011 in Strasburg, France an International Conference with the subject: “The struggle of the Swazi people for liberation and democracy”.

The delegation participated in the mobilization on the 21st of July 2011 of the trade union leadership and organizations who struggle to stop the HIV/AIDS to demand from the Swazi government to take all the necessary measures to maintain the supply of the ARV’s who are live-saving for the HIV patients.

WFTU expresses once again its solidarity to the struggle of the Swazi people for freedom and democracy, trade union and social rights.

With internationalist solidarity, we will continue our efforts to support their struggle in order for the poor people of Swaziland not to pay for the international economic crisis and the corruption with salary cuts and lay-offs. We will continue our struggle against the policy of the IMF which intents to strangle the working people in each country in favor of the profit of the multinational companies. We join voices with the Swazi people for trade union and democratic rights.

We demand the obviation of the banning of the political parties and the withdrawal of the accusation of being a terrorist group against PUDEMO. We demand the immediate release of all the imprisoned and the repatriation of those in exile. We struggle for the end of monarchy. We welcome the formation of the new umbrella confederation TUCOSWA, which strengthens the common struggle of the Swazi working people.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SWAZILAND CJ CRIES ‘VICTIM’

Michael Ramodibedi, Swaziland’s Chief Justice, has told the Sunday Express, Lesotho, that Swazi lawyers are lying about him and he is the victim of a group of lawyers who are “extremely politicised” and are hostile to any appointment of foreigners in their judiciary.

To read the full report, click here.

See also

LAWYERS CHARGE CHIEF JUSTICE

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/lawyers-charge-chief-justice.html

THREE-DAY PROTEST GOES AHEAD

The three-day national protest in Swaziland called to start tomorrow (27 July 2011) is to go ahead.

Talks between unions and the Swazi Government conducted by the Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration Commission have come to nothing.

President of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU), Barnes Dlamini confirmed to the Swazi Observer newspaper that the protest action was going ahead.

Areas expected to be affected by the protest, which will include strikes, include Matsapha, Manzini, Siteki, Pigg’s Peak, Nhlangano and Mbabane.

See also

THREE-DAY STRIKE STARTS 27 JULY

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/three-day-strike-starts-27-july.html