For more coverage follow us also on Twitter and Facebook

Thursday, September 29, 2011

SWAZI KING ABANDONS RULE OF LAW

Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA)

29 September 2011

SOURCE

Swaziland abandons rule of law

King Mswati III has made his views about the rule of law crystal clear – there is no place for such a concept in his absolute monarchy.

The unjustified and indefensible sacking of High Court Judge Thomas Masuku demonstrates Mswati’s utter contempt for the rule of law. There is only one law in Swaziland – and that is the law of the King.

Judge Masuku is a well-respected judge in southern Africa – renowned for his independence and his firm belief in the separation of powers and the rule of law. For these reasons, he was slapped with a list of baseless charges three months ago by the newly-installed and Mswati-appointed Chief Justice, Michael Ramodibedi – and suspended from the bench.

In August, Masuku was hauled before a similarly farcical disciplinary tribunal in front of the Judicial Service Commission, which was chaired by none other than his accuser, Ramodibedi. The hearing was not conducted in compliance with fundamental principles of justice and fairness. The Chief Justice did not recuse himself even though he was acting as both accuser and judge. And there was no cross-examination of the ‘evidence’ against him.

Now it seems that the process has reached its intended conclusion with the sacking of Masuku, who has served as a High Court Judge since 1999.

It is another sign that King Mswati and his elite clique have no intention of moving Swaziland towards a democratic, fairer and more open society – despite the worsening economic crisis and growing pro-democracy protests. Indeed, this decision shows that they will use any means possible to silence critical voices.

See also

SWAZI MINISTER OF JUSTICE FIRED

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/09/swazi-minister-of-justice-fired.html

SSN ON JUSTICE MASUKU FIRING

Swaziland Solidarity Network

Statement

29 September 2011

SOURCE

Justice Masuku fired by King Mswati


The Swaziland Solidarity Network condemns the continued interference into the judiciary by the Swazi Monarchy. It is disturbing to learn that Justice Thomas Masuku has since been fired after being falsely accused of insulting the king, among other things.

It is clear that the judge was removed from his post because of his incorruptibility, professionalism and courageous will to stick to the law. Mswati and his henchman, Barnabas Dlamini’s are merely continuing with their disrespect for the rule of law, and they need to be challenged.

This is no longer a matter only for the Law Society of Swaziland but for everyone in the country because it affects everyone.

It seems Mswati has not seen enough protests this year and needs to be countered with another, more militant one. Let us not disappoint him.

Issued by the Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]

See also

SWAZI MINISTER OF JUSTICE FIRED

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/09/swazi-minister-of-justice-fired.html

SWAZI MINISTER OF JUSTICE FIRED

David Matse, the Swaziland Minister for Justice, has been fired from his job because he refused to sign a dismissal letter for High Court Judge Thomas Masuku.

Usually reliable sources say that Prince Mgwagwa was appointed acting Minister of Justice in Matse’s place and he duly signed the letter.

Judge Masuku is now officially sacked.

Matse has refused to comment publicly about his dismissal, but he did confirm to the Times of Swaziland today (29 September 2011) that he has been told to ‘stay at home’ until at least next Tuesday (4 October 2011) when Barnabas Dlamini, the Swazi Prime Minister, returns from a trip to the United States.

Judge Masuku has been at the centre of a controversy over attempts by Michael Ramodibedi, the Swaziland Chief Justice, to dismiss him for a number of alleged misconducts, including insulting King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Lawyers in Swaziland have been boycotting courts for the past eight weeks in protest at the way Masuku has been treated. They also want the Chief Justice removed from office.

Representatives of the Law Society of Swaziland have been summoned to meet Liqoqo, the advisory committee for King Mswati today.

See also

SWAZI KING FIRES CRITICAL JUDGE

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/09/swazi-king-fires-critical-judge.html

NO GOOD REASON TO BEAT CHILDREN

Letter to the editor, Times of Swaziland

29 September 2011

SOURCE

There is no good reason to have corporal punishment anymore

Sir,

This is a response to the feature article on corporal punishment, published in the Times on 27 September.

I had a teacher in primary school who used to abuse this privilege. He would make us put our heads under his desk, then he would whip our butts.

When reacting to that, we would raise our heads and hit the bottom of his desk. I still wish to meet him now and see if he can repeat those antics.

That was pure abuse. My boarding master in high school would beat us with a hosepipe. We are, and were not, animals.

Cruel

That is termed ‘cruel and unusual punishment’. I would not like any teacher to lay hands on my child; if there are any problems I need to be called.

With all the things happening, sodomy and stuff, there are so many sick adults out there and I don’t know who to trust, period.

Leave my child alone and I will take care of it. Besides, why would you want to take on the responsibility of disciplining someone else’s child?

Most parents don’t discipline their children and they expect the teachers to do their work for them. Most children are raised by TV and video games and absent parents.

Then the teacher is expected to work out a miracle. Even the Bible says "let the wheat and tares grow together".

Rewards

The parents who do their work at home will reap the rewards and those who don’t likewise.

You reap what you sow. Besides, children are crazy these days.

Just this week in my city a principal quit his job because a pupil brought a gun to school.

If I were a teacher I would not mess with anybody’s child.

These children are also crazy like their parents. It takes a village, my foot! Let’s face it; the world is changing.

These days, even your own children, you don’t just hit them. They were showing a 10-year-old on TV who shot and killed his father.

Beating

With all this social media and stuff, no one can truly say they know their children anymore, so slow down on the beating because you might be the one getting it.

Has any research really been done on corporal punishment? We have a university in Swaziland, we have learned people etc.

This has been an issue for a while. One former US President (John F Kennedy) said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country."

I am trying to prove, kutsi siyatoyitoya yet where we as individuals have an ability to make a difference we are lacking.

Violent

Bantfwana labatelwe batali labatoyitoyako vele will be violent.

So it is not only our children, natsi batali siyagula, our children have inherited our dysfunctions.

No matter how hard we hit them, unless we look for solutions, we are just marking time.

Maye mine, I enjoy a well-researched article. Next time, before writing such an article, just do more research and writing on it.

Make it a scholarly and appealing subject.

Pholile Mazibuko

See also

SWAZI SCHOOL ‘TORTURES’ STUDENTS

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/09/swazi-school-tortures-students.html

SWAZI KING FIRES CRITICAL JUDGE

AFP

28 September 2011

SOURCE

Swaziland fires judge deemed critical of king: sources

MBABANE — Swaziland's King Mswati III has fired a judge seen as one of the only critical voices in the southern African kingdom's judiciary, a royal official said Wednesday (28 September 2011).

Judge Thomas Masuku had already been suspended from the bench in June and is facing a series of misdemeanour charges, including insulting Mswati in a 2010 ruling that used the phrase "forked tongue" in reference to the monarch.

"What we know is that the JSC (Judicial Service Commission) recommended he be fired, and given the fact that the terms of the suspension were only for three months, the king found it proper to endorse the decision of the JSC and fire the judge," said the source close to the palace, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Judicial Service Commission secretary Lorraine Hlophe said she could not comment.

The official told AFP that Justice Minister David Matse had also been suspended over the Masuku affair, which has sown divisions between Swaziland's lawyers and its judiciary.

Masuku was one of the few judges who dared to be critical of Mswati, Africa's last absolute monarch.

Swazi lawyers have been boycotting the country's courts in protest at his suspension, and the Swaziland Law Society has demanded the removal of Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi for his handling of the matter.

Some 200 lawyers staged a protest last week to demand Ramodibedi be sacked.

Swaziland is currently reeling from a crippling financial crisis and growing discontent with Mswati, who is accused of bankrupting the country with his jet-set lifestyle and lavish spending on his 13 wives.

See also

SWAZI LAWYERS MARCH IN PROTEST

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/08/swazi-lawyers-march-in-protest.html

CIRCUMCISION PROPAGANDA EXPOSED

Even 14-yeqr-old schoolboys are beginning to see through the propaganda that says men should be circumcised to stop the spread of HIV.

This letter to the editor is from the Times of Swaziland today (29 September 2011).

What are we not being told about circumcision?

Sir,

Kindly allow me space in your widely read newspaper to express my views on circumcision. I am a 14-year-old boy.

Our teacher gave us homework on circumcision so I did research on the subject.

I was the only one who came up with a disadvantage for circumcision.

It read, "10 per cent of the nerve endings are cut during circumcision and your pleasure will be reduced too."

Most of my classmates said the only risk they were told of at the clinic before they were circumcised was pain that would last for a few days; otherwise they told them all the good reasons why they should be circumcised.

There was a heated debate because our teacher did not believe me. I told them that I got this information from the internet and then asked my aunt, who works with issues of sexual reproductive health rights, and she confirmed that yes, it is a fact that the nerve-endings are cut in circumcision and that has an effect on the pleasure, as those nerves contribute to pleasure.

Campaigning

It became clear that those campaigning for circumcision are pushing their agenda without giving us all the information.

I am not circumcised yet but I want to be, although now I am scared because there might be other risks that are not being publicised. We will only discover them as time goes on and there can be no reversal.

I plead with those who are campaigning for circumcision to tell us both the advantages and disadvantages. It is our right to know about these things before we make a decision.

I have exercised my right to know in celebrating International Right To Know Day by writing this article and sharing information.

Concerned Swazi Boy

See also

HAS SWAZI KING BEEN CIRCUMCISED?

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/07/has-swazi-king-been-circumcised.html

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SWAZILAND YOUTH PRAISES ‘ACTION’

Swaziland Youth Congress (Swayoco)

Statement

SOURCE

SWAYOCO, the Youth League of PUDEMO, a Liberation Movement that fights to bring democracy in Swaziland, has been greatly motivated by the actions that various sectors of the Swazi society have engaged in response to the economic crisis that is an extension of the political crisis.

SWAYOCO has always upheld action as the most revolutionary form of addressing our crisis. It is pleasing to note that all the action is directed towards one objective which is removing the oppressive tinkhundla regime from power.

The protest by transport operators in our two major cities goes a long way to show how inefficient and stubborn the tinkhundla regime is. SWAYOCO applauds the revolutionary action that was taken by the transport operators to take to the streets in protest of the heavy fines that are imposed upon them by traffic police who are trying to mobilize funds for the financially broke regime.

SWAYOCO also condemns the brutality upon members of the public by Mswati’s police during the transport operators’ protests. The tinkhundla-led government has looted the country’s resources and it now wants the public to pay for their corrupt and greedy tendencies. Surely this should convince everybody that this regime should go now.

Mswati’s undemocratic regime has also trodden on the future of the country by declaring point blank that only a few of the students who have been admitted at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) will be granted scholarship. This is the regime’s application of its imposed scholarship policy that has relegated education to a commodity that can only be afforded by the rich.

Ultimately a great number of Swazi citizens have been denied a right to education, yet the king and the royal elites continue to increase their budget in the national coffers.

In view of the current political crisis SWAYOCO has observed that the Youth is heavily affected and therefore they are the ones who need to rise up for their future. That is why we are calling all the Youth of Swaziland to a Youth Day celebration to be commemorated at Msunduza, in Mbabane, on the 1st of October 2011.The Youth shall unite to defend itself against the tinkhundla- created economic crises. On the day of the activity, the Youth shall demand the following:

Unconditional unbanning of all political parties

Unconditional release of all political prisoners and the return of all political exiles;

The creation of decent jobs for young people to contribute to the economic growth of the country.

The Youth must not be intimidated by words or action from the police because the police are serving a corrupt regime and they operate using unjust laws. Every law that has been passed against PUDEMO, SWAYOCO, and any other organization of the People shall be defied from this day onwards. We call upon all the Youth to come in their numbers to defend their future.

SWAYOCO also applauds the revolutionary conduct shown by the representatives of police from all regions of the country to unequivocally reject a draft association constitution which prohibits them from affiliating to any political party or labor unions. The police should continue to display such revolutionary character even in the streets and defy all orders meant to further oppress, harass, and inflict injury on the innocent souls of this country whose only sin is to demand democracy.

SWAYOCO as a youth organization will not allow this diabolic tinkhundla regime to harass and victimize any of the young comrades in the police force who have taken it upon themselves to defy such barbaric and oppressive orders. Police have a right to freedom of association –hence they must demand these rights to be respected and adhered to through the revival of their union.

Comrades from Msunduza location have reported to their organization-SWAYOCO- that the country’s so called queen mother, Ntombi Tfwala, has demanded E50.00 per head from residents of Msunduza as payment of her visit to the community.

The royal family, if it will force residents to pay when they visits their communities, should rather stop forthwith from visiting these communities as these visits are useless and draining the country’s financial coffers. SWAYOCO calls upon all the people of Msunduza not to pay any cent of the said money. We will not allow the parasitic monarch to further rob the Swazi nation in broad daylight. Enough is enough!!!

We hereby call upon all Msunduza residents, young and old to attend the Youth rally this coming Saturday (Ocober 1, 2011) which will be held at Msunduza, Mbabane. Every corner of Msunduza will on this day be turned into a site of struggle. We will crash any provocation from anyone. The Youth shall be on the mountainous Msunduza location until all our demands are met!

‘NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER: IYOLALA IBONENE’

Statement released by Swayoco Secretariat

SWAZILAND BUS OPERATORS SIT-IN

Bus operators at the bus rank in Swaziland’s capital city Mbabane plan a sit-in today (28 September 2011), starting at 9am.

They are protesting against their trade association the Mbabane Kombi Minibus Transport Association (MKMTA), which they say is not addressing members’ concerns and they want the association dissolved, the Times of Swaziland newspaper reports.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

PUDEMO LEADER TO MEET DIPLOMATS

People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)

Statement

27 September 2011

SOURCE


The president of PUDEMO Mario Masuku will be addressing diplomats in Pretoria on Thursday (29 September 2011). The president was invited to make the key note input on the situation in Swaziland and what can be done.

In his address the president will touch on a number of issues including the continued violation of human rights in Swaziland by the current regime (including the shooting of students and protesters by the Swazi armed forces); the breakdown of the judicial system which has seen lawyers of the country boycotting the courts for eight weeks now; the education crisis which has seen the university and schools delaying opening due to lack of funds; the embarrassing health system which has caught international media, where in the main people living with HIV and AIDS eat cow dung due to lack of food; the rampant corruption in the state which costs the country at least E80m (R80m) per month and what the democratic forces led by PUDEMO are doing to fight and intensify the struggle for democracy.

Also forming part of the input will be the demands of the Swazi people which include the unbanning of political parties, unconditional return of all exiles, unconditional release of all political prisoners and a democratically elected constituent assembly. The president is expected to call on the international community to put diplomatic pressure on Swaziland to democratise.

Also speaking at the event will be senior South African Government official in the office of the presidency.

The forum is organised by the Southern African Liaison Office (SALO).

CENSORSHIP AT ‘TIMES SUNDAY’

I highlighted yesterday (26 September 2011) the article in the Times Sunday by leading pro-democracy campaigner Musa Hlophe about the possible fortune Barnabas Dlamini, the Swazi Prime Minister, could have made from owning shares in MTN, the monopoly cellphone operator in Swaziland.

Hlophe wrote about Dlamini’s holdings in Swaziland Empowerment Limited (SEL), which in turn has shares in MTN.

Alas, the Times censored the article before publishing it and left out a very important insight into SEL.

Below is what Hlophe actually wrote – the part in bold was cut out by the Times’ censor.

‘As to who else stands to benefit from SEL’s 19% stake in MTN? It is hard to determine at this stage. The Swaziland Stock Exchange web site does not give us any clues but it does give the address of SEL as Robinson Bertram Lawyers in Mbabane but the email address is for Dlamini at African Alliance in South Africa. African Alliance is a shadowy organization that is alleged to have links to the labadzala who are running this country for their own political and financial benefit. It is fronted by one person who it is hard to conceive could have accumulated all of this capital without powerful friends and investors. His name is not Dlamini.’

See also

DOES PM HAVE A FORTUNE FROM MTN?

http://swazilandcommentary.blogspot.com/2011/09/does-pm-have-fortune-from-mtn.html

DOES PM HAVE A FORTUNE FROM MTN?

Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, may have amassed a personal fortune from share dealings involving MTN, the only cellphone operator in the kingdom, according to a Swazi democracy activist.

Dlamini has his fingers in a number of pies as head of government and is the man in charge of the parastatal, Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC), says Musa Hlophe of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO).

Dlamini is therefore a key decision maker in the affairs of Swaziland’s national posts and telecommunication. But Dlamini also personally holds shares in Swaziland Empowerment Limited (SEL) which in turn has a major shareholding in MTN, Swaziland’s monopoly cellphone provider, and the only competitor for SPTC.

Holphe, writing in his regular column in the Times Sunday yesterday (25 September 2011), says PM Dlamini has publicly declared that while he did not have direct ownership of MTN shares, he was a minor shareholder in SEL which has a 19 per cent stake in MTN.

Holphe writes, ‘He told us these interests were so small that he could see no real conflict of interest.

‘He declared that he held shares in less than one per cent of SEL.

‘Now my colleagues in the press were, no doubt, so stunned at this half attempt at transparency from the PM that they did not go on to ask some questions that would have shed a bit more light on the matter.

‘Firstly they did not ask, “How much less than one per cent do you own? What is the precise figure?”

‘Secondly they did not ask, “Is one per cent a small or big number? How much do you actually earn and own?”

‘“Who are the other shareholders in SEL?” “Does the prime minister have any sort of formal, familial or other sort of relationship with them? In other words, when he makes decisions about SPTC and MTN, is he acting to favour just himself or do his family, friends and colleagues benefit as well?”

‘I was not there to ask these questions so I started to do a little digging.

‘A quick search of the internet starts to give us some very interesting answers.

‘We can see one report says that in 2009 alone MTN paid SEL over 55 million Euros as a result of its profits.

‘At today’s rates, that is over E550 million.

‘I think that may have been a mistake by the journalist who confused the two currencies so I will take the figure as the more conservative E55 million.

‘Now, if the prime minister owns around one per cent of SEL that means that his share of the MTN profits could be as much as half a million Emalangeni.

‘It might be less than this but since he has not published his interests, it is not possible for me to be more accurate. I wish I could.

‘When I look into the few SEL annual reports I could find, I can see they are wise and prudent investors and do not put all of this money directly into the pockets of their shareholders. They keep some for future investments. This has found favour with other investors and made the shares more valuable. In fact, the share price of SEL has risen from E5.10 at the start of 2008 to E18 this week. With under one per cent of the shares, that puts the prime minister’s holdings at something less than E18 million.

‘Again, I cannot tell you exactly how much less because the Human Rights and Integrity Commission refuses to publish details of what the PM and others hold.

‘Maybe he only has one share, in which case his stake is merely a few Emalangeni.

‘It must be somewhere between these two figures but your guess is as good as mine.

‘Since SEL’s main, if not its only, investment is MTN Swaziland it is important to understand that the value of the SEL shares will be slashed if anything happens that affects MTN’s profitability.

‘This government has been at the centre of many decisions that affect the ability of SPTC to properly compete with MTN.

‘Each government decision seems designed to hamper SPTC and enable MTN to continue its monopoly and unfairly increase the wealth of its shareholders which as we now know includes the private wealth of the prime minister.

‘It is shocking to see how much money is generated by MTN and that, in spite of the grinding poverty of the majority of us; vast riches are still secretly flowing into the pockets of the elite.

‘These figures dwarf those of the land grab saga. The PM’s decisions do not seem to benefit the nation, or his office.

‘They seem to benefit the person who holds that office.

‘He may say (as he did in the land grab scandal) that it is all perfectly legal but that is the wrong test. Compliance with the law is a minimum standard not a maximum.

‘Leaders must be held to higher standards. Even if what the PM does is perfectly legal, we should still be asking, is it honourable, decent and wise? Is it moral?

‘By the way, I wonder if the decision to shut down public access to the Lands Registry had anything to do with the land grab scandal.

‘I cannot think of any other reason.

‘As to who else stands to benefit from SEL’s 19 per cent stake in MTN, is hard to determine at this stage.

‘The Swaziland Stock Exchange website does not give any clues.

‘Corruption is like pregnancy – you cannot be a little bit pregnant and you cannot be a little corrupt. You either are or you are not. It is time to tackle corruption properly and declare all interests openly. Ministers with interests must excuse themselves from any decision-making that affects those interests not just the major ones.’

To read the full article, click here.