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Monday, October 31, 2011

‘POSITIVE WOMEN’ HIT SWAZILAND

Members of Positive Women, the UK-based charity set up to empower women and children in Swaziland, flew into the kingdom yesterday (30 October 2011) for a series of activities.

To follow their work check out YouTube here – where they promise an ongoing ‘video diary’ of their visit.http://www.youtube.com/user/positivewomen1?feature=mhee#p/a

Also, follow then on Twitter here @Positive_Women

Positive Women is a UK charity set up to help empower women and children in Swaziland. Our work focuses on growing local women led organisations, helping to fund anti-poverty programmes, supporting social progress initiatives and by driving their efficiency throughout their projects.

Positive Women began after two inspiring women met at Make Poverty History. These women shared a similar vision -- to find new ways to support locally run women's organisations in places where a lack of women's rights seriously damage the ability of women to create income and protect themselves against disease and violence. Siphiwe Hlophe and Kathryn Llewellyn saw huge potential to develop the work that they had both begun -- The Children of Swaziland and Swaziland Positive Living, and so pioneered Positive Women as an innovative and forward-thinking project that reaches all eight of the Millennium Development Goals.

See also

SWAZI WOMEN LEAD THE HIV STRUGGLE

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/10/swazi-women-lead-hiv-struggle.html

SWAZILAND UNIONS CALL OFF PROTESTS

Swazi Observer

31 October 2011

SOURCE

Unions call off protest action

IN light of a court order obtained by government, unions have called off the protest march which was scheduled for tomorrow (1 November 2011) until Saturday.


Instead, the executive of all the labour unions; Swaziland National Association of Teachers, Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions as well as Swaziland Federation of Labour would deliver petitions to the High Court and the ministry of labour.


Secretary General of the Labour Coordinating Council, Muzi Mhlanga said they received a court order yesterday, which was brought by police officers.


Mhlanga was responding to Minister of Labour and Social Security, Lutfo Dlamini’s statement, where he pleaded with the unions to respect the court order which was issued on Friday.

Organised labour wanted to march over the delay by government to address the judicial crisis, the failure to address workers’ concerns on the tender board processes as well as what unions termed “relocation” of Tibiyo and Tisuka TakaNgwane.


The minister said: “I wish to strongly advise workers not to participate in the upcoming protest action. It is unlawful and, therefore, not protected. Each worker should consider the implications of such an unlawful action.”


The minister spoke during a press conference, which he called yesterday afternoon.


Dlamini stated that the employers were also advised about the ruling of the court. He said if unions would defy the court order it would mean there was no rule of law.


The court order reads: “The intended protest action cannot be referred to as protected or lawful if the requirements of Section 40 have not been complied with.


The effect of the court order of October 28th, 2011 is that the respondents are interdicted or barred from going on with the intended protest action until the Labour Advisory Board properly constituted in terms of the Industrial Relations Act, 2000 (as amended) attends to the issues referred to it respondents within seven working days mentioned in the court order of the 28th October 2011.”

…Instead, they call night vigil for tonight

LABOUR has called a mass prayer which is expected to be held at the Roman Catholic Church in Mbabane tonight.


Secretary General of the Labour Coordinating Council, Muzi Mhlanga said everyone was welcome to the prayer.


He said after this, the executive of the, Swaziland National Association of Teachers, Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions as well as Swaziland Federation of Labour would deliver a petition to the High Court and the ministry of labour.


Some of the things the unions are complaining about are; government’s continued inability to meet the demand for the relocation of Tibiyo TakaNgwane and TisukaTakaNgwane, the judicial crisis and the failure by government to address the workers’ concerns on the tender board and the processes.

However, Mhlanga said they had since withdrawn the issue of the tender board because the ministry was still engaging them on it.


Unions had called a mass protest from tomorrow until Saturday but government acquired a court order which stopped the march. Civil society was expected to participate in the march.
Mhlanga said every member of the public was welcome at the mass prayer, which is expected to be held tonight until tomorrow morning.

Unions’ grievances not receivable – Lutfo

THE grievances submitted to the Labour Advisory Board (LAB) were not receivable and were thus rejected.


This was because workers did not mention any steps they had taken to solve the issues before embarking on a protest.


The Minister of Labour and Social Security, Lutfo Dlamini in a press conference yesterday said “the Labour Advisory Board at its meeting rejected all the notices, stating that they did not meet the key requirements of Section 40.”


The issues the unions wanted to march over included the delay by government in addressing the judicial crisis, failure to address workers’ concerns on the tender board and the processes and government’s inability to meet the “relocation” of Tibiyo and Tisuka TakaNgwane.

The minister said they were willing to meet the unions and discuss these issues with them.
He mentioned that the Minister of Justice and Constitutional affairs, Mgwagwa Gamedze was addressing the issue of the judicial crisis.


“Let the minister deal with this issue until such time that he says he has failed then we can involve ourselves,” said the minister.


Dlamini also noted that in a meeting the Labour Advisory Board had recently with the unions, a non-gazetted member was present.


He said the workers stated that this was an alternate member. “Our view as government is that the tripartite structure has joint custody of all employment and industrial relations regulations. To have a partner in the structure deliberately defeating the effective operations of such an important structure as the Labour Advisory Board brings to question the good faith that the partner brings to such a meeting,” said the minister.


The Secretary General of the Labour Coordinating Council, Muzi Mhlanga said the member did not know they were going to meet the Labour Advisory Board.

See also

SWAZI GOVT TRIES TO STOP MASS PROTESTS

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/10/swazi-govt-tries-to-stop-mass-protests.html

SWAZI COURT HALTS MASS PROTEST

Times of Swaziland

31 October 2011

SOURCE

Court stops unions protest action

MBABANE - The Industrial Court has issued an order stopping labour unions from proceeding with the protest action which was to begin tomorrow (1 November 2011).

The order, which was issued on Saturday, clarifies another order which had been issued on October 28, 2011, when the court had ruled that the unions should meet with the Labour Advisory Board within seven days to discuss the three issues they had submitted to the board.

The unions, after this ruling, indicated that they were to proceed with their protest action as the judge did not expressly interdict them from continuing with the protest action.

This prompted government to go back to court to seek clarity on the conflicting interpretations of the ruling. Industrial Court Judge Nkosinathi Nkonyane clarified the ruling by stating that;

"The effect of the court order of October 28, 2011 is that the respondents are interdicted or barred from going on with the intended protest action until the Labour Advisory Board properly constituted in terms of the Industrial Relations Act attends to the issues referred to it by the respondents within seven working days mentioned in the court order of October 28, 2011."

The order also states that the intended protest action cannot be referred to as ‘protected’ or ‘lawful’ if the requirements of Section 40 have not been complied with. Furthermore, in a matter in which government was represented by Tholi Vilakati, with no appearance from the unions, the judge ruled that the order was to be served on the respondents yesterday, between 7am and 7pm.

Service of the order was to be made on the respondents wherever they may be found and police were to assist in the service of the order.

The respondents in this matter are the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFL) and the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFTU).

The Minister of Labour and Social Security Lutfo Dlamini advised workers not to participate in the proposed protest action, as it is unlawful and not protected.

He said each worker should consider the implications of such an unlawful action.

Dlamini added that if the protest action was to proceed after the order of the court, it would mean there is lawlessness in the country, as orders of the court are not adhered to. He also urged the unions to help give the justice minister a chance to solve the judicial crisis.

See also

SWAZI GOVT TRIES TO STOP MASS PROTESTS

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/10/swazi-govt-tries-to-stop-mass-protests.html

Saturday, October 29, 2011

OSISA ON SWAZI JUDICIAL CRISIS

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Johannesburg)

Statement

27 October 2011

SOURCE

The following is an extract from the OSISA statement to the 50th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, October 2011, Banjul, The Gambia

Swaziland

Swaziland is a country with an absolute Monarchy presiding over a regime that has mismanaged state resources and rendered the nation virtually bankrupt and insolvent.

The plight of the citizens of Swaziland was brought to the attention of the Commission during its 49th session. Our statement focused on lack access to justice, erosion of the respect rule of law, abuse of human rights, rampant and endemic corrupt, assault on freedom of press, association, and speech amongst other abuses that are an affront to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

As you may be aware, since 1 August 2011, members of the Law Society of Swaziland have been boycotting all the courts in Swaziland. The boycott of the courts seeks to highlight the subversion of the principle of judicial independence and rule of law in the country. The genesis of the boycott lies in a number of actions by the Government, the Judicial Service Commission and the Chief Justice of Swaziland the effect of which is the denial of citizens' constitutional right to approach the courts, and the introduction of institutional bias in the allocation and determination of matters before the Courts.

For instance, Practice Direction 4 of 2011, the country's Chief Justice banned all summons/applications citing the name of the King or the Office of the King, directly or indirectly rendering the Monarch above the law. The Law Society is also aggrieved with the decision of the Judicial Service Commission - of which the Chief Justice is the chairperson - to refuse to accept a petition drawn by the Law Society against the Chief Justice.

As a consequence of the non-functioning of the courts, citizens of Swaziland have been deprived of their constitutional right to judicial redress. Criminal prosecutions which are at the instance of the State have continued albeit accused persons are being denied their constitutional right to legal representation as a consequence of the absence of defence lawyers.

This has given rise to the conviction and imprisonment of unrepresented accused persons, itself a fundamental violation of their human rights. The Government has increased its suppression of citizens' rights, on the strength that people cannot obtain any judicial redress or injunctions against the state for any violations.

Given that an independent and functioning judiciary is essential to the functioning of any State, we consider the absence of a proper functioning judiciary system as a gross violation of the rights of the citizens of Swaziland.

Together with the Law Society of Swaziland, which has lodged a formal complaint to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights against the Kingdom of Swaziland in terms of Article 55 of the African Charter, we request the Commission to urgently undertake a promotional mission to Swaziland, to investigate the factors and issues giving rise to the prevailing judicial crisis.

Friday, October 28, 2011

SWAZILAND ‘WORST’ FOR RIGHTS

Swaziland Solidarity Network

Statement

27 October 2011

SOURCE

Australian workers are spot on

ACTU, Australian Council of Trade Unions, has acknowledged that Swaziland is the worst country in the world when it comes to abuse of human and industrial rights.

In the organisation’s official website,
the president of the organisation Ged Kearney, has called for the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting to suspend Swaziland for “wholesale violations of democratic rights.”

Pointing out the fact that worker’s right cannot be separated from basic human rights, the president went on to castigate the Commonwealth for hypocritically pretending to be an organization that fosters democracy amongst its members, whereas it has failed to champion the democratic rights of citizens of some of its member states.

The democratic forces in the country and our alliance structures have failed to understand how Zimbabwe was suspended from the organisation for abusing human rights, but nothing was done to address the Swazi issue.

Is this because King Mswati chooses to evict his own poor subjects while Mugabe took land from the lily white farmers of British origin? We need answers to these questions. This seriously undermines the Commonwealth’s credibility as a non-racial, impartial and democratic institution that respects national sovereignty for its sake.

We have long called for the Swazi regime to be suspended from international bodies and we are happy that other organisations outside our alliance are finally responding to these grave double standards.

Issued by the Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]

UNICEF AND SWAZI CHILD VIOLENCE

UNICEF

Statement

27 October 2011

SOURCE

Swaziland convenes first national dialogue on violence against children in schools

MATSAPHA, Swaziland, 27 October 2011 – “Away with teachers who abuse children, away!” chanted Wilson Ntshangase, Minister of Education and Training, at a national dialogue on violence against children in and around schools – a problem pervasive in the country.

The national dialogue, organized by the Ministry of Education and Training with support from the UNICEF and other partners, brought together teachers, parents, religious leaders, community representatives and government officials for the first time to address student safety and well-being.

Culture of silence

Nine-year-old Andile Kunene, a child representative at the event, illustrated the perils children face in order to be educated. Many “are assaulted, robbed or raped” on the long walk to and from school, he said. Once at school, attacks take place in latrines, empty classrooms and other isolated areas.

Yet child abuse, widely viewed as a personal matter, goes largely unreported in Swaziland. Victims are often discouraged from seeking help.

The national dialogue aims to break this culture of silence.

“Home and school are the two most common places where violence against children takes place,” said Reverend Absalom Dlamini, representing the religious community. “This is wrong, and it must come to an end!”

A community effort

Attendees at the dialogue proposed a variety of measures to end abuse and assist survivors of violence.

Mr. Ntshangase underlined in his keynote address that his ministry will take a hard line position on violence in schools. Teachers must report those who hurt children, he said.

Teachers agreed. “We will promote positive discipline instead of corporal punishment,” said teacher Mbokodvo Tsabedze. “Teachers who are found guilty of abusing learners should not be allowed to teach. It is not enough that they appear before the teaching service commission or transferred to other schools.”

Teachers also recommended hiring full-time guidance and counselling specialists to provide pyschosocial support to children who have been abused.

Child representatives at the event also pledged to fight abuse. They advocated for the use of technologies to protect themselves against cyber-based bullying and abuse. They also pledged to report abuse, bullying and violence.

Mr. Dlamini emphasized that ending violence against children requires the effort and vigilance of all community members, and pledged to work with religious leaders to ensure their participation. “We have the trust and influence of the people that we lead,” he said. “We should be driven by the moral responsibility entrusted upon us and ensure that mosques, churches and temples are safe places for children.”

“Violence against children is everybody’s business,” he said.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SWAZILAND ‘NATION’ MAGAZINE ONLINE

HM King Mswati III states Greece receives unconditional bail outs - Bheki Makhubu knows different. Read who Bheki spoke to, when and where; and why Makhubu thinks our arrogance towards IMF loan conditions is a squandered opportunity. – The Nation Magazine

To read the full story, click here.

This is one of the articles from the October 2011 edition of the Nation, now available online here.

LATEST POSTINGS ON FACEBOOK

Here are some of the most recent postings on the Swazi Media Commentary Facebook site that did not also appear on this blog.

Call to suspend Swaziland from the Commonwealth for human rights violations.

Vusi Sibisi writes in the Times of Swaziland about last week's cabinet reshuffle.

Public servants will kick-start a three-day nationwide campaign to sensitise members of the public on 15 alternatives necessary for the economic recovery and bring an end to the judicial crisis.

Swazi teacher tells of uncertain livelihood.

Kang Fa textile factory workers marched to the local Labour office and demanded that Labour Officer, Gcina Nxumalo, intervene after they were reportedly paid E100 each for a fortnight’s work.

An attempt by government to stop workers from participating in the proposed mass strike scheduled next week has hit a snag.

Musa Hlophe of the Swaziland Coalition writes in the Times Sunday about the recent cabinet reshuffle in Swaziland

Times Sunday editor writes on the recent cabinet reshuffle in Swaziland.

The United Nations (UN) has given Swaziland a deadline of March 2012 to provide responses to member states’ recommendations for, among other things, the introduction of multiparty democratic elections and registration of political parties.

To access Swazi Media Commentary on Facebook, click here

https://www.facebook.com/groups/142383985790674/

‘BILLIONAIRE TO BAILOUT SWAZILAND’

Those who drive the Tinkhudla system of governance remain stubbornly steadfast in holding on to a political system that cannot sustain itself. Even though every circumstance points to a need for change, our leaders believe in unnecessary conspiracies instead of working out a solution to our troubles. Now there is talk that a mysterious American billionaire may fund our budget problems because he is not attaching political change to the loan.


Read the full report in The Nation magazine here.

SWAZI GOVT TRIES TO STOP PROTEST

The Swaziland Government yesterday (26 October 2011) ran to court to try to get next week’s mass strike declared illegal.

It claims will suffer from ‘irreparable harm’ if the protest takes place.

In an affidavit signed by Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Nomathemba Hlope, government argued that SNAT, SFL and SFTU have a huge membership whose participation in the protest action will bring the economy to a ‘virtual standstill thereby causing irreparable economic losses and in particular much needed revenue.’

The three unions have yet to file responding papers to the court.

NGOs SUPPORT TINKHUNDLA - ‘NATION’

Civil society organisations are accused of using Swaziland’s undemocratic Tinkhundla system to make money for their leaders. Some say this allegation has merit. Some NGOs and trade unions talk politics because that is what potential donors want to hear and are willing to pay millions of emalangeni for it. As a result, some so-called pro-democracy groups would rather the Tinkhundla system stayed because it keeps them alive. – Nation Magazine

Read the full report here.

GOVT NO CONFIDENCE VOTE BLOCKED

Swaziland MPs have failed in a bid to have a vote of no confidence in the government.

They say the Swazi Cabinet, hand-picked by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has failed to solve the judicial crisis in the kingdom that has rumbled on for more than two months and failed to deliver services to the Swazi people.

The MPs tried to have a debate yesterday (26 October 2011), but failed to get it on the agenda for business at the House of Assembly.

According to a report in the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, the motion of no confidence stalled because there were doubts whether it was lawful to call for the sacking of the cabinet. The MPs are now seeking clarification on whether they can move a motion sometime in the future.

The Observer reports, ‘They are however authorised by the constitution to pass a vote of no confidence on cabinet if they see the necessity for that. Section 68 (5) of the national constitution reads, “Where a resolution of no confidence is passed on the cabinet by a three-fifths majority of all members of the House, the King shall dissolve the cabinet.”’

The motion reads in full:

To move that the Honourable House of Assembly having;


n Carefully considered the worsening socio-economic problems engulfing the country and affecting all sectors of society culminating in regular strikes and mass protests;


n Mindful of section 69 (2), read together with section 106 of the constitution;


n Deeply concerned about the absence of a concise and precise road-map to economic and financial recovery or quick win solutions;


n Discouraged by the Cabinet’s stubbornness and non-action in resolving the judicial crisis, leading to the infringement of citizens’ rights to legal representation and fair trial ;


n Concerned about the abrupt stoppage of the elderly grants, scholarship awards and irregular OVC payments at schools;


n Whilst acknowledging the fiscal challenges but remaining confused by cabinet’s display of personal greed and selfishness in its adamant refusal to review and adjust Circular No.1 of 2010 in line with the prevailing financial climate instead, choosing to be insensitive to the national outcry;


n Disturbed by the cabinet’s decisive and swift action on issues that benefits some of its members, directly or indirectly in total contravention of Section 240 of the constitution and;


n Having failed the Swazi nation in service delivery on all fronts, due to poor leadership and bad governance causing rising unemployment, turmoil in the transport industry, shortage of medical supplies, falling education standards, etc.

Therefore resolves that:
1) A vote of no confidence is passed on the cabinet in accordance with section 68 (5) of the constitution; and thereafter,


2) The Speaker should make a formal and humble representation to the Head of State on the matter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

SWAZI WOMEN LEAD HIV STRUGGLE

Poverty Matters Blog, Guardian, UK

26 October 2011

SOURCE

Women lead the way in the struggle against Swaziland's HIV crisis

A support campaign for Swazi women living with HIV is transforming lives, but needs international backing

Siphiwe Hlophe's shrewd, enterprising spirit is apparent within moments of meeting her. "You work for Comic Relief?" she says. "Brilliant! I might walk away from this meeting with some money." Hlophe, a Swazi woman living with HIV, wants the money for the charity she directs, Swaziland for Positive Living (Swapol), which supports rural communities affected by HIV.

Her resourcefulness is striking in a country where women are denied the right to register property, prohibited from opening a bank account or starting a business without the permission of their husbands, and paid 71% less than men. Yet it is not unique. Similarly enterprising women across Swaziland – where 31% of the female population is HIV positive, compared with 20% of men (a figure that rises to 49% for women aged 24-29) – are leading the HIV fight-back.

These women fight a tireless tripartite battle against HIV, the stigma it places on them, and their inferior status in Africa's last absolute monarchy. Hlophe, whose husband ended their marriage on grounds of "dishonour" after she contracted the virus from him, has conquered all three.

Kathryn Llewellyn, the founder of Positive Women, which co-funds Swapol, said: "Extraordinary women provide safe havens for women rejected by their families. Despite the fact that women are disproportionately infected and affected, or maybe because of this fact, they're not being overwhelmed. They're uniting and fighting back."

Some cross the border to South Africa. Thandi Maluka, of South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign, points out they're escaping a country where, in 2009, "one MP suggested branding people with 'HIV', so they cannot infect others … they believe women carry the virus".

Hlophe stayed put. She founded Swapol in 2001, along with four other rural women; all had been recently diagnosed, and were determined to resist destitution and ostracism.

Two have since died, but Hlophe continues, empowering Swazi women living with HIV through programmes that transform them into businesswomen. On a visit to a rural neighbourhood care point, I met six women making and selling peanut butter to fund their village orphanage. In another rural community, I encountered a crop-seller; Swapol gives her seeds to grow vegetables, helping her to sell surplus stock to locals.

Women operate at grassroots level in tackling HIV because they're rarely trusted with real responsibility. But they are increasingly making their voices heard. In 2008, when the king chartered a plane for nine of his 13 wives to go shopping, hundreds of Swazi women protested. In response to their cries of: "We need to keep that money for ARVs [antiretrovirals]", senior princes denounced them as "un-Swazi". Care of Swaziland's 80,000 Aids orphans increasingly falls to grandmothers, 1,000 of whom gathered last year to discuss action priorities, such as campaigning for fair inheritance rights. And in July, 100 people protested at the government's inefficiency in financing the response to the HIV and Aids pandemic. Leading the march, Vusi Nxumalo said: "There's a problem with procurement, supply and service delivery [of ARVs]."

Yet the crisis is too far-reaching for women to tackle alone, and men are now being actively encouraged to take responsibility. When I travelled across the border from South Africa to Swaziland as part of an Action for Southern Africa delegation, I was handed a health department leaflet advocating circumcision. The initiative to circumcise 175,000 men by December 2011 is based on studies suggesting this could reduce annual HIV incidence by 75% by 2025. But in Swaziland, where polygamy is commonplace, men often demand sexual favours from women in return for employing them, and less than 20% of people know their HIV status, these targets feel overambitious without a wider push for social change.

The economic downturn and the government's financial irresponsibility have exacerbated the HIV crisis. ARV supplies were recently reduced from three months to one month a person for each clinic visit. Travelling to collect ARVs is expensive and exhausting for people in poor, isolated rural areas.

You might expect the Global Fund, established to combat HIV by "directing resources to areas of greatest need", to prioritise Swaziland. But Hlophe says: "We keep crying out for answers, but we haven't received a response about where our Global Fund money is. We've now been waiting for nine months."

In reply, the Global Fund, whose last HIV grant disbursement was in April 2011, said they "will be engaging with Swapol to determine the way forward on their involvement" with phase two of the disbursement.

Allegations of corruption in January this year led to the Global Fund stalling grants – clearly problematic when it disburses funding through a body of Swaziland's undemocratic government – rather than giving directly to already overstretched NGOs such as Swapol.

It is down to the international community to sharpen its focus on Swaziland, lest women like Hlophe run out of steam – and HIV infections spiral upwards.

FEARS OVER KING’S MENTAL HEALTH

In the week it was revealed that one in four people in Swaziland suffer from a mental illness, King Mswati says he has been contacted directly by God through a television remote control.

The king, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, told a group of evangelical Christians at the weekend that he has seen a TV remote control unit fall from a table to the floor and through this action he knew that God was giving him a sign that he was ready to meet with him.

The African Eye News Service reports that when King Mswati preached at a prayer meeting at Lozitha Palace near Mbabane, Swaziland, on Saturday, he said God miraculously communicated with him.

Reverend Jonas Dlamini, one of the preachers at the event, is reported saying, ‘The king preached to us. He was filled with the light of the Lord when he told us that God had given him a sign when he was getting ready to meet us. He said a TV remote on his table dropped to the floor with no one touching it and that is how he knew God was communicating with him.’

The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, confirmed that Mswati told his audience about the ‘miraculous’ experience.


‘His Majesty saw a miracle yesterday when he was preparing his sermon. The King said a remote control lay at the centre of a coffee table but something mysteriously brought it down.

‘He said there was no person or wind that could have brought it down. The King said he realised that God was with him. It was Him who brought the remote control down,’ reported the paper.

African Eye reports that Mswati and his Dlamini clan believe that they were chosen to rule Swaziland. His older brother, Prince Masitsela Dlamini, told African Eye that God had given the royal family authority to rule over other Swazi clans.

‘The Dlaminis are closer to God,’ said Dlamini.

Meanwhile, Psychiatric Centre Matron Phumelele Dlamini said during the launch of the mental health week, that one in four people in Swaziland suffered from mental illness.

She didn’t mention the king, but gave a variety of examples of mental illness, including alcoholism and schizophrenia. One of the symptoms of schizophrenia is hearing voices that are not there which direct a person to act in a way they wouldn’t otherwise do.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network in a statement was less circumspect. It said, ‘Mswati’s lack of sobriety manifested itself at the prayer that he had at the royal palace on Saturday. He told the packed gathering that while he was preparing for his hypocritical sermon, he had witnessed a television remote control mysteriously moving from the table to the floor without anybody touching it.

‘This in scientific terms points to either the misuse of hallucinogens and narcotics or possibly an advanced state of schizophrenia. Just because we are opposed to the man’s agenda does not mean that we should not be concerned for him as a human being, and we sincerely suggest that his family makes sure that he receives medical attention very urgently.’

See also

SWAZI KING LIES TO CHRISTIANS AGAIN

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/10/swazi-king-lies-to-christians-again.html

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SWAZI PM NEPOTISM EXPOSED

Swaziland Solidarity Network

Statement

24 October 2011

SOURCE

Barnabas’ nepotism exposed

Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini does not seem to be able to differentiate between the government of the country and his personal farm. We have confirmed reports that he moves around his friends and family within the civil service like chess pawns.

After ending his honeymoon with Macanjana Motsa, the former government spokesperson, he has appointed his son in law Bhekithemba Gama, the husband of his first born daughter, to the post of Director of the Swaziland Information and Broadcasting Services (SBIS) through whom he aims to have further control on the country’s radio content.

Barnabas’ son in law has climbed the country’s civil service very quickly since his father in law was reinstated as Prime Minister. From being a school’s inspector he was whisked to the post of Under Secretary at the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, a ministry that Barnabas has a well known fixation in due to his investments in the industry.

This is procedural as all under-secretaries first assume directorship posts in one of the government’s departments before being promoted to the post of under-secretary. This blatant nepotism is one of the reasons why the country’s government fails to deliver to its citizens. But then again what can one expect from an unconstitutionally appointed Prime Minister. He is following his master’s lead.

Issued by The Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]

MINISTERS GO IN STYLE AS POOR SUFFER

On the day it was revealed that ministers in the Swaziland Government are getting E16,000 each and every month in travel expenses comes news that the poorest and most vulnerable in the kingdom will lose farming grants.

The government says it doesn’t have the money to supply orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) and poor farmers with maize seeds as well as other implements this year.

But, seemingly it does have the money for the ministers and their cars.

The Minister of Agriculture Clement Dlamini blamed donors for the lack of funding, ignoring the fact that the government prioritises spending in the kingdom and prefers to spend on its own members rather than the poor.

Dlamini said government had not received funding from the Global Fund through the National Emergency Relief Council on HIV and AIDS (NERCHA).

The Swazi Observer newspaper quotes him saying that he had no idea how many Swazi people would be affected by the cut, but it says there are about 200,000 OVC in the kingdom.

He said he did not know whether the grants would be available next year.

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that ministers get a car allowance of E16 171.92 – which is about three times the monthly salary of a teacher in Swaziland.

The Times of Swaziland said that a cabinet minister’s salary is E40 000 per month but with all of their allowances they end up getting close to E70 000.

SWAZI KING LIES TO CHRISTIANS AGAIN

Swaziland Solidarity Network

Statement

24 October 2011

SOURCE

Mswati lies to Christians again


Swaziland’s biggest hypocrite, king Mswati, continued deceiving his sycophants on Saturday afternoon at Lozitha Royal Palace. This is according to the Sunday Times newspaper.

In a sermon attended by close to 500 people, told the impressionable Christians that he had refused an offer from a group of men who wanted to help him avert a revolt earlier in the year.

Interestingly, he went further to claim that he “did not believe in violence and the use of weapons to conquer enemies but always depended on the intervention of God.” The facts contradict him, however, and expose him as a terrible liar and a cheap propagandist who abuses religion to further his otherwise evil agenda.

The only revolt the country had this year was the April 12 uprising which was meant to be a peaceful protest and in fact remained peaceful on the part of the protestors. Mswati responded, not by praying to God as he claims, but by sending in his police force to brutally beat up protestors, abduct them and rape them.

Later on that fateful day, when protestors showed no signs of bowing down to this violence, the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) was called in to declare a curfew in Manzini city. Nobody knows what would have happened to unsuspecting citizens who may have needed to walk in the streets that night.

It is an insult to Christians and Swazis to go around misusing their religion to legitimise the agenda of well-known sorcerers who, in a month’s time will be engaged in bestial rituals paraded as a “National prayer.” The Swaziland Solidarity network calls upon pro-democracy activists to use this time to wage the final offensive on this hypocrite.

Issued by The Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]

CASH CRISIS THREAT TO EDUCATION

World Education Blog

24 October 2011

SOURCE

Financial crisis threatens education in Swaziland

Swaziland’s financial crisis could have devastating effects on its education system unless the government avoids cuts in social services.

As we stated in the 2011 EFA Global Monitoring Report, “divergence between Education for All financing requirements and actual spending is not an abstract concept. It leads to teacher shortages, poor education quality, failure to get children into school and large socio-economic disparities in education”.

After the Swazi government failed to pay outstanding school fees this term, principals have threatened to close their schools as they lack funds for the most basic supplies like pens and notebooks. Some MPs are now questioning whether financing primary education should be a government responsibility at all. In addition, other social services, including the supply of retroviral drugs, are now being compromised in a country that has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world.

The IMF recently refused to bail Swaziland out of its financial trouble unless it cut its public sector wages, among other requirements. South Africa offered the country a $370 million loan, but Swaziland’s absolute monarch, King Mswati III, has so far refused to sign its conditions, which include democratic reforms and adherence to the IMF’s recommendations. Taiwan has offered a $2.5 million grant, a small amount compared with the massive challenges Swaziland faces.

Over the past decade, Swaziland has made progress, although modestly so, towards reaching the Education for All goals. In the 2011 Global Monitoring Report, we found that the country was likely to achieve the goal of adult literacy by 2015. Between 1999 and 2008, education spending increased more rapidly than the country’s economic growth.

But large challenges remain. Just over 50% of Swazi kids get to enrol in secondary education – and the number is much lower for women, the poor and those living in rural areas. Cuts in education and health spending could be devastating to this already frail progress.

Friday, October 21, 2011

LAND FOR FOOD LAUNCH TOMORROW

Communist Party of Swaziland

Statement

21 October 2011

SOURCE

Official launch of the Communist Party of Swaziland’s Red October Land for Food Campaign

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) will be officially launching its Land for Food Campaign, Saturday 22 October in Moneni, Manzini.

The campaign kicks off the CPS’ first Red October Campaign. It aims to highlight the need for full use of Swaziland’s land to solve the food crisis in the country, which affects about 40% of the population.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the campaign launch. All pro-democracy forces are warmly invited to take part.

The Land for Food Campaign will draw attention to the need to put land expropriated by the absolute monarchy of Mswati III back into the hands of the people. The monarch, his government and oligarchy of chiefs maintain a stranglehold over Swaziland’s best agricultural land.

At the same time, thousands of our people face daily food insecurity. This compounds the disastrous health situation in the country. Malnutrition and under-nutrition worsens the terrible HIV and TB pandemics.

The Land for Food campaign aims to reverse this situation by lobbying and protesting for the release of land for food cultivation. Our land workers must be encouraged and given the skills, technical support and innovative and sustainable methods for productive land use.

The crown estates, government land, and land ostensibly “held in trust” for the Swazi nation by Mswati must be given over to community control.

Land for Food is a crucial channel to challenge the ruling autocracy. It is key to the freedom and democracy people seek.

The campaign also supports the rights of people criminally evicted from rural areas by the ruling elite. Moneni is one such communities and is further threatened by new evictions, and the CPS will launch Land for Food to demonstrate its solidarity with the people of Moneni and to show the link between the monarchy’s imposition of evictions and the need for a revolutionary solution to land issues.

The CPS Land for Food Campaign will run until October next year, after which it will be incorporated into the permanent strategic work of the CPS and will be taken forward by a special working group to ensure that the campaign gains and maintains momentum.

The problems of our people, the ruinous exploitation they face at the hands of the Mswati autocracy, the massive expropriation of good quality land by the royal family and the tinkhundla chiefs all require that we come up with homegrown solutions to bringing freedom to Swaziland.

Our land is our future!

Kick the monarchy and tinkhundla off the land!

Put the land in the hands of the people!

Land, food and freedom!

See also

LAND FOR FOOD CAMPAIGN STARTS

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/10/land-for-food-campaign-starts_10.html

Thursday, October 20, 2011

BOYCOTT AND SANCTIONS CAMPAIGN

Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Statement

19 October 2011

SOURCE

Pressure Mounts on Mswati Regime

Special Meeting on Sanctions

At a special meeting today (19 October 2011) in Witbank representatives from both Swazi Trade Union Federations and affiliated Unions, the Swaziland United Democratic Front, the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations, the Swaziland Democracy Campaign and Swaziland Solidarity Network and others gathered to work out how an accelerated boycott and sanctions campaign could be applied to put further pressure on the failing Mswati regime.

The meeting noted that there is a long and honourable tradition of democratic forces utilising boycott and sanctions campaigns to assert the democratic agenda, and the gathering analysed the tactics that had been used by democratic forces in South Africa, Palestine, Zimbabwe, and in many other parts of the world.

The meeting noted that PUDEMO (which remains a banned political party) had developed policies of applying targeted sanctions in pursuit of the democratic agenda from the early 90’s as part of an intensified programme of mass mobilisation inside Swaziland.

Repressive Nature of the Regime Exposed Again

The repressive nature of the regime was blatantly exposed during the Global Week of Action initiated by the Swaziland Democracy Campaign which led to protest actions in 27 locations across the world. In Swaziland, unprecedented levels of mobilisation put the security forces on the defensive, but that did not stop them from viciously attacking peaceful demonstrators in both urban and rural areas. Many comrades were injured, but the movement remains completely unbowed!

The nature of the regime has been further exposed by the sustained campaign by almost the entire legal profession who have boycotted the courts in protest at the manipulation by the regime of what is supposed to be an independent judicial system. On November 1st a mass protest will take in Swaziland to support the legal profession and to raise critical democratic demands.

As we have noted before, the Swazi regime is becoming desperate. It cannot tolerate any moves towards democratisation that threaten its opulent lifestyle, and the Tinkhudla system of patronage that underpins it. Desperate attempts are underway to undermine the democracy movement, and to try and maintain the loyalty of the security apparatus, and the sycophantic circles gathered around the absolute monarch. The regime is staggering from one crisis to another!

The Democracy Campaign Moves Up a Gear

It was recognised that in the light of the continued and deepening economic crisis in Swaziland, and the complete inability of the regime to democratise, that our campaign must open up another front to exert pressure on the regime. This would not replace the magnificent levels of mobilisation achieved during and after the Global Week of Action, but would be complementary to it.

Levels of disillusionment in the Royal Elite are at an all-time low. Levels of impoverishment are at an all-time high. The regime is paralysed, and is only capable of thinking of its own selfish interests. The representative meeting agreed that the time was right to launch a strategic sanctions and boycott campaign as part of an unfolding action plan for a democratic Swaziland.

No More Support for Repressive Reaction

When discussing sanctions and boycotts, special attention has been given to the question of arms and repressive equipment used by the regime to attack the democracy movement and maintain order in the face of growing popular unrest. The Swazi regime has been exposed internationally as a brutal and repressive entity. It continues to unleash its firepower on peaceful democracy activists. The use of rubber bullets and tear gas by the security forces is now a commonplace. Live rounds have been used to disperse perfectly legal gatherings, and democratic activists have been wounded and worse as a result.

Furthermore, behind the heavy doors of Swaziland’s notoriously inhumane prisons, there is irrefutable evidence of the systematic torture of detainees using equipment and torture techniques provided by a range of government agencies in the region and beyond. A worrying development that has been noted is the increased interaction of Swazi state security personnel with their counterparts in South Africa and elsewhere.

It was also noted that the repressive regime in Swaziland seeks to benefit from any bailout that is arranged, whether from government or private sources, adding urgently to the need to further pressurise all those who wrongly believe that providing a bailout without reference to tangible democratic reforms is mistaken. Along with demands for tangible democratisation, must be conditions that expenditure on instruments of repression will not be permissible.

The Swazi people have spoken and said clearly, nothing for us without us! The South African government must use the current bailout interlude to ensure that these types of conditions are incorporated into any agreement, and also consult with civil society to ensure that any bailout is aimed at relieving the terrible burden of the poor. The South African government is to be commended for re-thinking the terms of the bailout it is facilitating, and it would gain even more credibility with the people of Swaziland if it took the vital step of siding with civil society by unambiguously attaching democratic and peaceful conditionalities to any assistance that it offers.

Towards a Sanctions and Boycott Plan of Action

With these considerations in mind, and after very careful consideration the gathering agreed the following:

» To coordinate the actions of all those present to maximise the effect of an accelerated sanctions and boycott campaign to maximise impact, and provide opportunities to draw in others towards complementary mass action.

» To develop a special sanctions unit to research a number of strategic economic targets and to work with Unions and others in Swaziland and across the world to impose sanctions on those who trade with the repressive Mswati regime.

» To launch a specific arms sanctions campaign to prevent the Mswati regime from obtaining the equipment and training to further repress the people of Swaziland.

» To work towards the political and social isolation of the Royal Regime including rapid actions to expose their wasteful private and public expenditure including the purchase of luxury goods and further, to engage governmental and other institutions on the need to exclude Swaziland from all forums where they garner legitimacy.

» To lend on-going support to the boycott of the legal system of the country, and to contribute positively to expanding the cultural and sports boycott and to the considerable work that has been undertaken by friends of the SSN and others.

These matters will be enthusiastically taken back to all participating organisations with a view towards confirming agreements within the next few days, and for work to begin in earnest to realise the sanctions and boycott campaign at the earliest opportunity. Meetings will be taking place over the coming weeks to popularise the Boycott and Sanctions Campaign, and will include meetings to popularise the campaign.

Watershed Moment

It would be fair to say that the meeting reported above represented a new phase in the struggle for democracy in Swaziland. The level of commitment shown by all parties to the campaign and the discussion on how to accelerate it were deeply reassuring. There is a new chapter opening up before us, and we urge all those who care about democracy on our Continent to participate. Keep up the pressure! Don’t give space for dictators! Isolate the torturers! Solidarise with the democratic forces!