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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

SWAZILAND FAILS ITS IMF TARGETS

The Swaziland Government has failed to meet the targets it set itself for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF has now suggested the government cuts public expenditure further, but that the poor should not suffer.

This press release was issued by the IMF today (31 August 2011). SOURCE

Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Staff Mission to Swaziland

Press Release No. 11/318

A mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Mr. Joannes Mongardini, visited Swaziland during August 17-31, 2011. The mission held discussions on the first assessment under the Staff-Monitored Program (SMP) approved by IMF management on April 4, 2011.1

The mission met with the Prime Minister, His Excellency Dr. Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini; the Minister of Finance, Hon. Majozi Sithole; the Governor of the Central Bank of Swaziland, Mr. Martin Dlamini; and other senior officials. The mission briefed members of parliament, and the Liqoqo Royal Advisory Council. It also held fruitful discussions with donors and representatives of the private sector.

At the end of the mission, Mr. Mongardini issued the following statement:

“The fiscal crisis in the Kingdom of Swaziland continues to deepen. In the period April-June 2011, expenditure overruns and lack of financing have led to the nonobservance of several targets under the Staff-Monitored Program. While the ceilings on domestic and external arrears were met, the targets on the overall government deficit (measured by its total financing requirement), government social spending, and the net domestic assets and net international reserves of the central bank were missed. On the structural side, most of the benchmarks were met. However, the benchmarks on the 240 million emalangeni cut in the wage bill and on the submission to Parliament of the Public Financial Management Bill were delayed. With many of the key targets and benchmarks not met, the mission was unable to conclude discussions on the first assessment under the SMP, which expired at end-June 2011.

“Against this background, the mission observed that economic activity remains subdued and inflation is on the rise. Electricity consumption, which can be used as a coincident indicator of economic activity in the absence of quarterly GDP data, declined in May 2011 while broad money growth remained subdued in June. Inflation increased to 6.3 percent in July 2011, reflecting higher international food prices. The gross international reserves of the central bank stood at 4.0 billion emalangeni (about $554 million) on August 26, 2011, equivalent to 2.2 months of import cover.

“The mission concurred with the authorities’ views that the government will continue to face severe liquidity constraints over the coming months, notwithstanding the recently-announced 2.4 billion rand loan from the South African authorities. In this context, the mission advised the government to pass a supplementary budget to cut expenditures, while preserving pro-poor spending, and strengthen expenditure controls in order to restore fiscal sustainability. In this context, recent steps by the government to eliminate unauthorized expenditure commitments should help. The quality of spending needs to be improved, with emphasis on education and health, particularly the fight against HIV/AIDS. The mission commended the authorities for the new anti-money laundering and procurement laws, enacted in August 2011, as they will significantly strengthen the anti-corruption framework, once implemented.

“The mission shared the authorities’ view that preserving the parity with the South African rand is of utmost priority. In this context, it urged the government to stop borrowing from the central bank and repay the outstanding emergency credit line from the central bank at the earliest possible convenience. In addition, the mission encouraged the authorities to remain vigilant on developments in the financial sector.

“With the first SMP having gone off track, the authorities expressed an interest in a new SMP. The mission indicated that approval by IMF management of a new SMP would be conditional on a number of prior actions, including passage of a supplementary budget to reduce the wage bill and capital expenditures in line with available financing. Discussions will continue in the context of the Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Washington, D.C. in September 2011.

“The mission would like to thank the authorities for the frank and constructive discussions.”


1 A staff-monitored program is an informal and flexible instrument for dialogue between the IMF staff and a member country on its economic policies. Under a staff-monitored program the country's targets and policies are monitored by the IMF staff; a staff-monitored program is not supported by the use of the Fund's financial resources; nor is it subject to the endorsement of the Executive Board of the IMF.

CALL TO SUPPORT SWAZI STUDENTS

Swaziland Solidarity Network

Statement

31 August 2011

Link

SOURCE


SSN urges all Swazis to protest over student allowances

The Swaziland Solidarity Network would like to urge all its solidarity partners to protest against the Swaziland government’s very bizarre decision to reduce tertiary students’ allowances by 60%.


This decision is bizarre because for many years the students in the country have been protesting that the allowances given to them no longer sustained them due to the fact that they were never adjusted annually to cater for inflation.

With the current fiscal crisis, the government has not only ignored the students’ please for an increase in their allowances but has reduced them to an amount that effectively makes it impossible for most students to continue with their studies.

Most students in Swaziland come from very poor backgrounds where their tertiary education is the only hope of them escaping the cycle of poverty. Such students are known to use the little allowances that they get from the Swazi government to help their younger siblings through school and to help them with their living expenses.

With the cut in student’s allowances, the Swazi government is effectively raising saying that only those students who come from well to do families will be able to afford to have tertiary education.


The Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) has already taken a lead in this matter by planning a protest action on Friday, the 2nd of September. We urge all other organizations to join in this protest in order to let the students’ voices be heard.

Issued By the Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]

GLOBAL WEEK DAILY NEWS ED 2

Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Daily News – Day 2

31 August 211

Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) Daily News No 2, Wednesday 31st August

This Daily News is the second edition of what we hope will be an e-bulletin to help build the Global Week of Action on Swaziland, and to follow up what happens afterwards!

The SDC seeks to try and maximise support and solidarity with the people of Swaziland for a democratic Swaziland, and to undertake this vital work in a principled and non-sectarian manner.

There are now fifteen chapters of the SDC in different parts of the world, and we hope to be able to report on the activities they are involved in, as well as the excellent solidarity work that is undertaken by other organisations.

Visit the SDC website for regular updates and to find out details of actions that are underway www.swazidemocracy.org

Momentum for Global Week of Action Builds Up

The Swaziland United Democratic Front, involving the union movement, faith based and civil society organisations and the SDC have planned an extensive programme of action in Swaziland for the Week of Action. They have also said that they will welcome all those who come to Swaziland to show solidarity.

Marches are now scheduled for Monday 5th in Mbabane, Tuesday 6th in Manzini, the 7th & 8th will involve mobilisations in a range of different regions, and then on Friday 9th a major rally in Mbabane. Unions and Civil Society organisations from South Africa and across the region have committed to joining in the marches and showing their solidarity with the Swazi workers and people.

In other parts of Africa, events have been planned in most countries through the ITUC-Africa with memorandums being handed into Swazi offices where they exist, and to South African offices if they do not. There has simply not been a continental mobilisation on this scale. Over the next few days we will give more details.

All Eyes on Swaziland and How it Reacts to Democratic Protests

The Swazi regime would be well advised to behave well in the next few weeks...... if it can. The entire world is now watching how it reacts to the protests that are planned for next week. If they repeat the mass arrests, bullying, physical and verbal abuse that was meted out to perfectly innocent protesters last year, they can expect an outraged reaction from a range of important bodies.

The South African government itself will be anxious to avoid a repeat performance when South African trade unionists were subjected to shocking forced deportations laced with insults about Alliance Partners. If the regime abuse visitors and residents on this occasion, it will throw into sharp relief the terms of the recent bailout. A key conditionality, though vague, is to ‘build confidence’ towards democratisation. If the Swazi police continue to behave like their counterparts did under apartheid, the South African government will be placed under intense pressure to withhold a tranche of the bailout.

To make matters worse for the regime, the United Nations Human Rights Council will be reviewing Swaziland’s track record on October 4th and if anything happens between now and then, a report to them will definitely be submitted by Swazi civil society. Furthermore, last year Swaziland was severely criticised at the annual International Labour Conference in Geneva, and is currently under review. If they behave as they did last year, they can expect more than a rap on the knuckles!

We know that some of our readers will be hope those of our readers who are part of the regime will read this section very carefully and remember the following. You might be watching the democracy movement, but the world is watching you!

Legal Fraternity Join in Democracy Protests

The legal fraternity, still stinging with anger about the flagrant manipulation of the law by the Chief Justice when hearing the fabricated case against outspoken Judge Masuku, have decided to continue to express their anger in action! They are joining the SUDF and Trade Union march on Monday 5th September and are demanding the recall of the Chief Justice and for measures to restore the integrity of the justice system as a whole. This is a further indication of how the growing confidence of the democracy movement encourages all other sections of society to take the side of progress.

Don’t Forget The Detainees and Political Prisoners

As we busy ourselves making sure that the Global Week of Action is a success, let’s not forget those who are languishing in Mswati’s prisons for no other reason than they have stood up for democracy, and against corruption and misrule. One of the key demands of the democracy movement is for the release of political prisoners, and for the immediate release of those who have been incarcerated under the universally condemned Suppression of Terrorism Act, which is nothing more than a repressive blanket to stifle dissent. We especially remember detainees Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni, the courageous student leaders who are being denied even the minimalist rights afforded other prisoners and Amos Mbedzi, Bheki Dlamini and Zonke Dlamini who were convicted on very dubious grounds under the draconian Act. Lets remember them when we march in Swaziland, and when we picket the Reserve Bank and the High Commissions/Embassies in more than thirty locations next week. Lets remind Governments everywhere that these comrades are being held in appalling conditions because they acted against dictatorship. Release them now!

If you wish to contribute to the SDC Daily News, please e-mail steve.faulkner@samwu.org.za

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

SWAZIS 'LIKE POLITICAL PARTIES'

People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)

Statement

30 August 2011

SOURCE

PUDEMO has always maintained that the regime is feeding the world poison when it claims that the people of Swaziland do not want political parties.

At the time Swaziland was preparing for independence in 1968 there were at least six active parties. Since the banning of political parties in 1973, fifteen political parties have been established in defiance of this law. This year alone two parties have been established. Our sources inform us that a new one is likely to be formed on the 3rd of September. We welcome this because it strengthens our case for demanding the unbanning of political parties and the return of all political exiles.

The picture demonstrated is that of a people yearning for multiparty democracy. The world must not be misled by the Mswati regime.

The Country is facing a crisis all round:

The university has been closed indefinitely due to shortage of money

Public servants are retrenched

The king is demanding a commission of a quarter of the bailout Swaziland got from South Africa

Already, there are strong indications that the bailout will not be used for what it was intended for.

We will continue to engage all authorities engaged on the Swazi bailout saga using all channels available to us an organisation. While we have indicated our anger we will not resort to public insults. We will follow the right channels.

PUDEMO calls on everyone to intensify the call for democracy in Swaziland. All our allies around the world must engage in activities in their countries to raise the issues of Swaziland. We will be on the streets with our internal allies and partners in the Global week of action starting 5 September.

SWAZILAND FACES HUMAN RIGHTS QUIZ

On 4 October 2011 Swaziland faces a ‘universal periodic review’ from the United Nations Human Rights Council. The review takes place every four years and gives provides the opportunity for the Swaziland Government to show what actions it has taken to improve the human rights situations in the kingdom and to fulfil its human rights obligations.

Al 192 member states of the UN face a universal periodic review.

In advance of the October meeting three detailed documents have been written that give background information to the state of human rights in Swaziland and what (if anything) has been done to improve the situation over the past years. These documents are available on the Internet by clicking here.

SWAZILAND REED DANCE PICTURES



Day 6. Maidens waiting to deposit bundles of reeds at royal kraal. I saw others arriving with broken-looking stalks earlier that looked far more genuine. I don't know where these bundles came from but they look very uniform. I was told maidens found it difficult to collect enough reeds this year after a mysterious fire destroyed most of the reed plantation.

Picture from Swazi Shado. For more pictures, click here.

See also

SWAZILAND’S ‘SEEDY’ REED DANCE

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/08/swazilands-seedy-reed-dance.html




DAILY NEWS FOR GLOBAL WEEK

Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Daily News

30 August 2011

This Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) Daily News is the first edition of what we hope will be an e-bulletin to help build the Global Week of Action on Swaziland (GWoAS), and to follow up what happens afterwards!

The SDC seeks to try and maximise support and solidarity with the people of Swaziland for a democratic Swaziland, and to undertake this vital work in a principled and non-sectarian manner.

There are now fifteen chapters of the SDC in different parts of the world, and we hope to be able to report on the activities they are involved in, as well as the excellent solidarity work that is undertaken by other organisations.

Visit the SDC website for regular updates and to find out details of actions that are underway www.swazidemocracy.org

Global Week of Action Takes Shape 5 – 9 September

The week is based upon a number of planned marches. They will be taking place in the following locations : 5th in Mbabane, 6th in Manzini, 7-8 in regions, 9th in Mbabane.

The marches are part of the trade union campaign to settle a number of outstanding grievances, and to draw attention to the austerity measures that the regime are intending to impose upon the already impoverished peoples of Swaziland.

In addition there are pickets and protests in many parts of South Africa and in other countries as the extract from the mobilisation leaflet indicates.

§ Picket of South African Parliament organised by the Cape Town Chapter on the 6th September from 12pm-2pm (Contact Comrade Martin 0828702025 and martin@wwmp.org.za)

§ Pickets at various branches of the South African Reserve Bank on the 9th September from 12pm-2pm.

- Johannesburg Contact Comrade Philani 076 942 3565 and philani@asc.org.za

- Durban Contact COSATU on 0313041690 and nokhwezi@cosatu.org.za

- Bloemfontein Contact Comrade Sam Mashinini 0825636954 and sam@cosatu.org.za

- East London and Port Elizabeth Contact Comrade Mkhawuleli on 0823395482 and mkhawuleli@cosatu.org.za

- Mpumalanga Contact COSATU on 0136560289 and fidel@cosatu.org.za

§ All over Africa the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) will be organising pickets and presenting memorandum to Swazi High Commissions or Embassies, or to South African missions in the event of no Swazi representatives. (Contact Comrade Joel Odigie on odigie.joel@gmail.com)

§ Pickets/protests will be taking place in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somali, Rwanda, the UK, Germany, the US, in the Nordic Countries and also in Geneva, and Brussels (Check the SDC Website for details)

This is only an extract of the protests that are planned, please check our website for actions in different parts of the world – www.swazidemocracy.org

Did He or Didn’t He?

Did King Mswati ask for a commission charge for ‘negotiating’ the bailout from South Africa as reported in last Sundays newspapers? Apparently there seems to be a reliable leak at the heart of government who is prepared to pass on this information. If it is true, democracy activists will not be surprised, after all why change the appalling habits of a lifetime?

Mswati’s Royal family have been receiving ‘commissions’ for just about every transaction whether legal or illegal for decades. The fact that someone somewhere in the inner sanctum is prepared to leak such sensitive information is an indication of the tensions that must exist within the ruling elite. Let’s face it, if a list of all those who have provided ‘commissions’ for Mswati were ever published (and one day it will be!) it will surely read like a Who’s Who of the Southern African economic and political elite. All the more reason why serious work must be undertaken to track Mswati’s economic crimes as well as his abysmal human rights record.

Conversation with Women’s Activist on Swaziland

‘There is no doubt that women are involved in the democracy campaign, and often play a leading role, and are in the frontline of the mobilisations. There are women leaders in unions and civil society formations, and they have fought hard to be properly recognised as equals.

There are challenges however. Many people, both men and women still see the Reed Dance for example as primarily a ‘cultural’ event that is somehow separated from women’s oppression, and they make jokes about polygamy, and the picking of barely legal ‘wives’ for the King. But the situation is changing. As the corrupt activities and selfish behaviour of the monarchy is increasingly exposed all over the country, including in the rural areas, growing numbers of people no longer have blind faith in being ‘ruled’ by such uncaring leaders.

Not only can you feel it, but now you can also hear it when you travel to those areas. In my experience, it has never been as strong as it is now. Change is coming and it cannot be stopped! Women comrades have to make sure that they are involved, not only to bring in democracy, but also to tackle the negative gender attitudes that have shaped Mswati’s rule.’ (Well known leader and activist : name withheld for security purposes).

Understanding the Bailout

The R2.4bn bailout facilitated by the SA Government is based on a number of conditionalities. The first is supposed to be about democratisation, but has been so watered down as to be almost incomprehensible, and now simply calls upon the regime to engage in ‘confidence building’. Whose confidence is not stated! Mswati’s or the peoples?

However, another ‘conditionality’ is less obscure, and that is the one that insists that recommendations from the neo-liberal IMF and World bank are implemented. And yet what the IMF and World Bank have recommended is that 50% of the public sector workforce should be retrenched alongside a whole tranche of austerity measures designed to make the already impoverished people of Swaziland worse off.

Retrenchments not in the notorious and completely overblown security apparatus that daily imperils the lives of democracy activists, but workers in education, health, water and service provision. Can the South African government please explain how this will help the people of Swaziland? Thankfully trade unions in the public sector are clear about the implications, and are prepared to fight tooth and nail to defend those parts of the public service that protect not attack the people of Swaziland.

Judiciary and Justice System to Align With Democratic Movement?

One of the astonishing happenings to have been witnessed on the streets of Mbabane last week was the procession made up largely of the legal fraternity, including both legal clerks and advocates, protesting about the appalling manipulations of the Chief Justice, and demanding his removal.

The legal profession has not been known for radicalism, but it appears as if the abuse of power by the Chief Justice acting as judge, jury and prosecutor in the ‘trial’ of Judge Masuku (who has courageously stood his ground when attacked by the regime) has changed all of that. The legal fraternity have not just protested abuses, but have taken steps to ensure that justice is still served by discussing how best to make sure that those who require legal redress, and especially those less wealthy, are still able to access it.

This is a remarkable turnaround, and indicative of the new confidence that is being expressed in all corners of Swazi society. The SDC congratulates the legal fraternity for their militancy, and urges them to join hands with those brave and deeply respected attorneys and others who have gone one step further and who are openly defending and assisting those who languish in Mswati’s prisons, and who met with the international delegation late last week in Swaziland. (see website for details). No Justice Under Dictatorship!

If you wish to contribute to the SDC Daily News, please e-mail steve.faulkner@samwu.org.za

SWAZILAND’S ‘SEEDY’ REED DANCE

AFP

29 August 2011

SOURCE

The seedier side of Swaziland's Reed Dance

EZULWINI, Swaziland — Swaziland's annual "Reed Dance", a ceremony which is meant to be a traditional show of virginity by thousands of maidens, is acquiring a seedier reputation for events off stage.

Around 60,000 bare-breasted girls from across the landlocked kingdom, some as young as 10 years old, were presenting reeds they had cut from surrounding hills to the royal kraal on Monday while they danced before King Mswati III.

Mswati, Africa's last monarch who already has 13 wives, has often used the ceremony to choose a new spouse.

But the presence of tens of thousands of teenage girls, far from parental supervision and with plenty of free time on their hands, has also proven a magnet for men who have anything but marriage on their mind.

"You get the choice here. There are so many of them," said Sifiso Ngomane, one of the many men hanging around near the entrance to one of the camps where the girls are temporarily housed during the week.

"All you have to do is call them through the fence," he told AFP.

The girls are supposed to be protected by male overseers from their home regions while police also stand guard at the base camps.

The camps hum with laughter and song, while the atmosphere is heady and festive, akin to a scout camp.

But only a short distance away, it is different story.

A nearby river where the girls bathe naked at dawn attracts ogling eyes while a hot spring dubbed the "cuddle puddle" has become a byword for sex.

"We are going to the cuddle puddle tonight and clubbing tomorrow," said 18-year-old Patricia proudly.

The southern African kingdom, where life expectancy is just 49, has the world's highest HIV prevalence rate.

A 2007 study led by the United Nations Children's Fund found that a staggering one out of three Swazi girls between the ages of 13 and 24 reported having been sexually abused.

Victims of sexual violence were four times more likely to be HIV positive and twice as likely to be suicidal.

For NGOs working in HIV prevention, the Reed Dance is an ideal opportunity to reach people that are especially vulnerable. Thirty percent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 are HIV positive compared to 20 percent of men.

But since condom promotion is outlawed at an event that is all about virginity, they instead have to encourage abstinence and warn about the dangers of sleeping with several men at once.

"I am a vigin and proud of it. I love my culture," said 18-year-old, Tsabile Dlamini. A minor royal herself, she has attended the Reed Dance several times and now works for the NGO, Population Services International.

Wearing a t-shirt that says, "I am a maiden, I protect my flower", she encourages the other girls to talk about their bodies and about sex -- taboo subjects up until now for many girls brought up in the countryside.

A Trade Fair in Manzini coincides with the Reed Dance, offering music concerts and all night parties.

Officially however, the revellers are expected to resist temptation.

"They must be on their best behaviour. We do not want any news of pregnancies from the Reed Dance," warned the region's governor, TV Mtetwa in a radio announcement in the lead-up the event.

See also

REED DANCE – DARK SIDE OF CULTURE

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2007/09/reed-dance-dark-side-of-culture.html

Sunday, August 28, 2011

POLITICAL PRISONERS DENIED VISITS

Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Press Release

26 August 2011

International Representatives Denied Visits to Swazi Detainees, Treated Like Criminals and Spied Upon! Students Attacked Again!

Yesterday, a 21 strong representative group drawn from the Development Community, Human and Civil Rights Organisations, and Peace and Democracy Campaigners were denied the right to visit political detainees and prisoners being held by the Swazi regime.

The regional delegation comprising representatives from Swaziland, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique and from respected organisations such as the ACTIONS Support Centre, PROPAZ, Forum Mulher, SCCCO, Soweto Concerned Residence, Swaziland Democracy Campaign, Swaziland United Democratic Front, YIDEZ, and the Zimbabwe Peace Project numbers 21 representatives.

They had intended to visit Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni in Manzini Remand Centre, both of whom are student leaders who are being illegally held by the Swazi regime for participating in peaceful protests for a democratic Swaziland earlier this year. They were also denied access to Amos Mbedzi, Bheki Dlamini and Zonke Dlamini who are imprisoned in the Sidwashini Maximum Prison after being convicted on very dubious grounds using draconian legislation that has been universally condemned.

The Visiting Delegation wanted to talk to those being held to make an assessment of the conditions they are enduring, and also to reassure them that they were not forgotten and that the campaign for their release is gathering momentum.

Authorities Renege on Agreement

Despite having secured prior permission, and made their intentions completely clear, the authorities reneged on the agreement to allow the visit and instead subjected the visiting group to delay, illegal surveilance and unreasonable treatment.

Despite the presence of legal representatives of those detained, the authorities refused to provide reasons for denying access, however it was possible, despite the obstructive behaviour of the authorities to gather important information.

While the Government denies that those being held are political prisoners, it does not afford them the same rights, access to visitors and other facilities as it does for ordinary prisoners. For example, they have restricted the number of people allowed on to their registered visitors list from seven to five. Each registered visitor is allowed to have only 3 minutes for conversation which is closely monitored by a police officer. This means that the prisoners have very little time for outside contact compared to ordinary prisoners who are also not monitored. Visits to the prison shop are also denied them, and more worrying, they are kept in isolation and not allowed to communicate with one another.

This treatment is not only inhuman and against acceptable prison norms, it is cruel and completely unnecessary. It is clear that the intention is to break the spirit of those imprisoned. If these comrades are not political prisoners, why are they not given the same treatment as other prisoners?

An indication of the inhumanity the political prisoners have to experience is illustrated by the treatment received by Musa Ngubeni who is suffering from very high blood pressure. Instead of being given access to a doctor, a prison nurse instead administers Panadol.

Spies Used to Infiltrate Delegation

The 21 strong delegation is primarily in Swaziland as part of a sector to sector learning exchange workshop, but they have been subjected to levels of surveilance and spying that once again indicates the paranoia and fear of exposure of the ruling elite regime.

Of particular concern has been evidence that spies have been deployed to the delegation posing as representatives of World Vision. According to its own sources World Vision is an evangelical relief and development umbrella organisation whose stated goal is ;,

"to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God."

The names of the spies are now in the possession of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, who will be contacting World Vision to ask whether the deployment of police spies is part of its brief, and what it intends to do to salvage its reputation in Swaziland amongst the democratic community.

The Global Week of Action Approaches

The Global Week of Action on Swaziland 5 – 9 September 2011 is now an established part of the democratic movements agenda. Thousands of people in many parts of the world are preparing to take action to draw attention to the undemocratic character of Swaziland, and the abuse of power and resources that characterises the ruling elite regime.

Last year, scores of democracy activists who went to Swaziland to give solidarity to the trade union movement were arrested, abused and forcibly deported, despite the fact that the ILO has condemned this as being against ILO Conventions. It is clear, that the economic and political crisis currently preoccupying the regime is deepening. Following the advice of the IMF and World Bank it is attempting to make the already impoverished people of Swaziland pay for a crisis not of their making through retrenchments and austerity measures.

However, it is now widely understood that the crisis is a result of mismanagement and unadulterated corruption, and attempts to further undermine living standards will be firmly resisted. The South African Government, despite having forwarded a R2.3bn bailout to the regime, is increasingly sensitive to accusations that it is propping up a vicious and despotic regime, and it remains to be seen if the regime will dare to mistreat those in September who once again will want to express their solidarity with the workers and poor of Swaziland.

Attacks two days ago on students protesting against the continuing closure of their learning establishments indicates that the regime believes that it can continue to get away with brutalising citizens, but the world is watching, and the students have shown great courage and discipline by insisting on their right to protest.

One thing is certain. The democracy movement inside and outside Swaziland is growing. There is no turning back. The regime has exposed its complete inability to respond to the needs of the people, and increasing numbers of Swazi people themselves are aligning themselves with the democracy movement.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

KING MSWATI’S DRUNKEN BRATS

The bratish, drunken behaviour of a group of King Mswati III’s sons has been highlighted by a South African newspaper.

The Swaziland princes insulted women, showed disrespect to their elders and ranted in a hotel bar.

Nikiwe Bikitsha, writing in the Mail and Guardian (26 August 2011), tells how she and a group of journalists were in Swaziland on a press trip. Word got through to them that a Swazi Prince (she spears his blushes by not naming him) was seeking an audience with one of the women journalists who had taken his fancy.

Fearing the woman would not be safe alone with the prince, the women insisted he should meet her in a public place – The Royal Swazi Hotel.

Bikitsha takes up the story. ‘Later that evening, the prince descended on the hotel with an entourage of his brothers and cousins. We were asked to join the princelings in a semi-private lounge.

‘We walked into a roomful of young men, all bearing a striking resemblance to King Mswati III. It was difficult to tell them apart. They were accompanied by so many minders and protocol staff that they took up half the room. Spotting the object of his affection, the prince gave her an appreciative, even leering, once-over and greeted her by telling: ‘Yo!’

‘It was stunningly rude and the poor girl blushed. I tried to dismiss this initial faux pas as the folly of youth. Perhaps I was too much of a fuddy-duddy to appreciate how young people interact, but a part of me believed that a young man of his upbringing might be more refined and well mannered. And it was all downhill from there.’

The princes ordered gallons of whisky ‘which they decanted into glass pitchers and gulped down like thirsty desert nomads.’

She goes on, ‘The princes were in their early 20s, but would routinely snap their fingers at their royal escorts and minders, who were much older than them, when they needed attention. They might have been expected to be more respectful towards their elders, even if the elders were the help.’

One of the journalists remarked to the prince, ‘Now we know how our R2.4 billion is being spent’; referring to the loan South Africa is to make to bail Swaziland out of its economic mess.

Bikitsha reports there ‘wasn’t a hint of mortification from the prince. He merely shouted in his cocky fashion, “Well, R2.4 billion is nothing bro, nothing! There’ll be plenty more where that came from”.

‘So tasteless and shocking was this declaration that even the most parched among us suddenly found excuses to leave the room.’

Bikitsha concludes, ‘Was this just the ranting of a spoilt, uncouth and drunken brat desperate to make an impression in a room full of women, or did it reflect the attitude with which the South African bailout is viewed, as a piggy bank for a rancid king and his family?

‘To help a country in need is one thing, but to pay the drinks bill of a group of obnoxious children is quite another.’

See also

KING 'DEMANDS CUT OF S AFRICA LOAN'

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/08/king-demands-cut-of-s-africa-loan.html