The Kingdom of Swaziland, now known as the Kingdom of eSwatini is a member of the commonwealth, yet it does not comply with principles and rules of the commonwealth of promoting democracy and human rights. Every citizen has a right to participate in their country's affairs.

The Commonwealth values, which include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism and world peace, emerged in independence movements and the struggles for self-government.

The Commonwealth promotes democratic consolidation, members of the commonwealth should correlate strongly with the presence of democratic processes and institutions.

Swaziland is failing to reach an acceptable standard in democracy, the Swazi government uses the 1973 Kings decree, which banned all political parties, to supress all political freedom in the country. This 1973 decree ushered the country into a state of emergency which has been in effect since 1973 up to-date. The Swazi Government also uses the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act of 1938, and the 2008 Terrorism Act to imprison those who are fighting for democracy.

The Commonwealth is well placed to be an influential player on the world stage in the years ahead. Indeed, one could even say that it has a responsibility to play such a role. Its diverse membership is committed to a set of values founded on democracy and the rule of law and embodied in the Commonwealth charter.

In Swaziland, the king is the only person who makes political, executive, and judicial decisions pertaining the country's governance, whether right or wrong no one has the right to challenge any decision that is made by the king because by Swazi tradition he is infallible (in SiSwati: he is the mouth that never lies… meaning he doesn’t lie, his word is final, it cannot be challenged). Political parties, as they are illegal, are banned from taking part in elections. Civil and political rights are constantly denied by the country's authorities.

Human rights, democratic principles, consultation, cooperation, and consensus-building are fundamental political values of the Commonwealth, yet Swaziland does not abide by these principles.

According to reports from the Commonwealth Heads of Government - Swaziland is in the lowest quartile of countries in the world for press freedom. The Sedition and Subversive Activities Act, which still remains in full force, restricts freedom of expression by criminalizing alleged seditious publications and use of alleged seditious words, such as those which “may excite disaffection” against the king. Many journalists told Human Rights Watch that they practise self-censorship, especially with regards to reports involving the king, to avoid harassment by authorities.

The Swazi law and culture does not allow citizens to voice their concerns even if they are being oppressed. Swaziland government should respect human right.

The constitution provides for equality before the law, but also places the king above the law. A 2011 directive, which protects the king from any civil law suits, issued by then-Swaziland Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi after Swazi villagers claimed police had seized their cattle to add to the king’s herd, still remains in force.

Restrictions on freedom of association and assembly continue, the government has taken no action to revoke the King’s Proclamation of 1973, which prohibits the formation and operations of political parties in the country.

In 2017, Swaziland struggled to fulfil the rights of its estimated 1.4 million population amid numerous political and socio-economic challenges, including the highest HIV infection rate in the world at 26 percent according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

We say no to intimidation, harassment, beatings and arrests of freedom fighters. We want freedom of speech, assembly, association, thought and religion.

Article 20 of the Swazi Constitution provides for equality before the law and non-discrimination, but does not prevent discrimination on the grounds of sex, language, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Swaziland’s dual legal system, where both Roman Dutch common law and Swazi customary law operate side by side, has resulted in conflicts leading to numerous violations of women’s rights.

Swazi culture also discriminates against women and girls. Swazi culture is failing on new dynamics, it is still rooted in the old culture, it does not embrace the new world of equality and equal opportunities. Women in Swaziland are not allowed certain positions. Swazi culture also discriminates grieving widows mourning the passing of their spouses. The culture dictates that women in mourning should not go to certain places for a period of 2 years.

In August 2017, human rights groups Southern African Litigation Centre and Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) challenged Swaziland on these discriminatory laws in court on behalf of a married Swazi woman, who upon being deserted by her husband, was unable to sell any of the livestock she purchased with her own money because she did not have her husband’s consent. At the time of writing the matter had not been finalized in court.

The 2005 constitution allows four female members of parliament to be appointed from each region, but up to today, it has not happened. The Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill has been in discussion since 2006 by the house of commons, and it was passed in 2009 but it is still awaiting the king’s signature to put it into law to protect women’s and girls’ rights, and to outlaw child marriages.

In September 2017, King Mswati told the United Nations General Assembly in New York that Swaziland is committed to peace and a decent life for all. He said his government grants every citizen an opportunity to voice their views in order to constructively contribute to the social, economic, cultural, and political development of the country. He failed to mention, however, the recently passed amendments to the Public Order Act, which allows critics of the king or the Swazi government to be prosecuted, and upon conviction be fined E10,0000 (US$770), imprisoned for two years, or both for inciting “hatred or contempt” against cultural and traditional heritage.

The Commonwealth should put pressure to Swaziland to follow their principles and values.

 

By: Juliet Zodwa Dlamini

 

References:

http://www.times.co.sz/feature/118156-people-must-not-be-enslaved-by-culture.html

https://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2018-03-22a.422.8

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/swaziland

“The UK is deeply concerned about the continuing decline in good governance and human rights in Swaziland, and the lack of progress towards democracy,” the United Kingdom’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Africa Directorate says in a letter dated March 2018. The letter was addressed to the many people who had complained about Swaziland’s absolute monarch, King Mswat III’s, invitation to the British royal wedding in May 2018, and specifically calls on the Swazi regime to uphold human rights.


"The UK calls on the Government of Swaziland to abide by the 2005 Constitution, which guarantees the rights of all Swazi citizens to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression,” the letter says.

According to the FCO, the United Kingdom has repeatedly raised the issues of Swaziland’s human rights record with King Mswati III and his ministers, as well as taking action together within the purview of the European Union.

"The UK takes every available opportunity to make our views known to the Swazi authorities,” the letter stated. “Our non-resident High Commissioner, with her EU colleagues, met with King Mswati III on 10 March in Swaziland, during which human rights and governance issues were raised, whilst our non-resident Deputy High Commissioner directly raised our concerns on human rights with the Swazi Foreign Minister on 13 April.


“Following the anti government protests in Swaziland on 12 April, the UK led the drafting and issuing of an EU statement expressing concern at the actions of the Government of Swaziland. More recently, our new Deputy High Commissioner visited Swaziland in April 2018 to engage with the Government.

 

By: Swaziland Vigil UK Coordinator

What is in a name? A name amongst eMaSwati (Swazi people) these days is no old thought, it is resounding through and through even unto the international community. King Mswati III of the former Kingdom of Swaziland has made a proclamation on his 50th birthday – the 19th April 2018 - that has just changed our country’s name to Eswatini or eSwatini, depending on which spelling you prefer. At the time of writing this article, it is unknown which spelling is to be officially used, according to the Times of Swaziland’s article by Welcome Dlamini [1] not even the Deputy Prime Minister (Paul Dlamini who is acting Prime Minister) knows which spelling is the correct one.

The dictionary defines a name as a word or a combination of words by which a person, place, or thing, a body or class, or any object of thought is designated, called, or known or a word or term by which a person or thing is commonly and distinctively known related adjective nominal or a mere outward appearance or form as opposed to fact (especially in the phrase in name) or a word, title, phrase descriptive of character, usually abusive or derogatory [2].

For many eMaSwati, the name of the country “Swaziland” did not bother them, even though in some people’s minds there was always the question as to how the country got its name. The name did not resemble the eMaSwati culture nor the SiSwati Language which is the indigenous national language. History shows the nation got its name from King Mswati II, whom the Zulus called Mswazi [3]. It transpired that the British and the Boer, who fought amongst themselves in the Anglo-Boer war also fought to control the territory occupied by Mswati II and his people who had already gotten concessions to be independent of the Transvaal state in the now South Africa [4]. The reference to call the land ruled by Mswati II Swazi land was derived from the Zulu name of King Mswati II (Mswazi). So, the Boers and the British called Mswati’s followers “Swazis or Swazi People” and that name stuck for over a century.

Changing the name to the Kingdom of Eswatini / eSwatini is somehow controversial because the claims that we are returning to a former name seems far from the truth. We were known as bakaNgwane (people of king Ngwane III) or eMaSwati (Mswati II’s people). Among eMaSwati, we refer to the country as kaNgwane or use Swaziland. It would have been easier to call it kaNgwane, but the issue is the part of Swaziland that was incorporated into South Africa in the Mpumalanga province is also called kaNgwane [5], and that would create another confusion.

I am giving a very high-level history of Swaziland to say this: Why is the king concerned about what name the country is called and going through the expense of changing the name – believe me, it is not a free rename – when there are more pressing issues at hand? Swaziland or eSwatini / Eswatini / Swatini has more emergencies to worry about than a superficial name change. I, as a member of the protest group “Swaziland Vigil UK”, I think Mswati III should have first of all changed the political climate by unbanning political parties, and set free all citizens to exercise their right of freedom of thought, freedom of association, freedom to critique and condemn the government if and when it violates citizens’ rights, women’s rights and any other injustices. What is the name change going to benefit the nation? Nothing!!!! Oh! Sorry I meant it is gaining us a lot of mockery in the international community. Mswati is busy worried about a country name instead of fixing our economy, our political system, our health system and getting rid-off the feudal Dlamini dynasty. Emaswati are hungry, most of our people are living far below the poverty line, they are sick, and they cannot get the medical help they need, WHAT GOOD IS A COUNTRY NAME CHANGE when its people are dying and suffering under the oppressive Mswati III regime?

Here is my proposed solution: first, let us cut off the head of the snake, i.e., we need to remove the mornachy and the Tinkhundla system will die a natural death, then we can build a Swaziland that is for its citizenry, which will serve the interests of its people, not the Mswati regime which serves its cohorts and the royal family. So Mswati III must go, he must be toppled off the throne and let us have a democratic Swaziland.

Viva Swazi Vigil Viva!!!!!!

 

By: Clement Gama

 

References:

[1] W. Dlamini, “IS IT Eswatini OR eSwatini?,” Times of Swaziland, Mbabane, 22-Apr-2018.

[2] Harper Collins Publishers, “Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition,” Dictionary.com, Apr-2018. [Online]. Available: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/name. [Accessed: 22-Apr-2018].

[3] J. S. Matsebula, A History of Swaziland. 1987.

[4] B. Marwick, The Swazi. 1940.

[5] The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “KaNgwane | state, South Africa | Britannica.com,” ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, 2010. [Online]. Available: https://www.britannica.com/place/KaNgwane. [Accessed: 23-Apr-2018].

 

 

 

FROM: SWAZILAND VIGIL UK Office
 
ACTSA Protest at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London 19th April 2018
 
Exiled Swazis / eMaSwati participated in a political protest at the Commonwealth Secretariat where a Heads of Government for the Commonwealth countries was held from Monday the 16th April 2018. The protest was hosted by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA).
 
The protest commenced at 11:30hrs on the 19th of April 2018 and was coordinated by ACTSA's Senior Campaigns Officer - Sunit Bagree. The protest started at the corner of St James' Street and Pall Mall and later moved to the near the Commonwealth House entrance, which was opposite the temporary entrance to the Commonwealth Secretariat building.
Initially ACTSA communicated that Mswati III of Swaziland would possibly attend the Commonwealth meetings, but it was later learnt that he instead sent the prime minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini to represent him.
ACTSA Protest at the Commonwealth Meeting on the 19th April 2018 in London
ACTSA Protest at the Commonwealth Meeting on the 19th April 2018 in London
The protest was attended by various organisation notwithstanding Action for Southern Africa, Swazi Vigil UK and others. Protesters used the usual song and dance style to draw attention from members of the public, the Metropolitan Police, other protesters from other groups and the Commonwealth Meeting delegates.
 
 
Viva Swazi Vigil Viva!!!!
 
 
From: The Swaziland Vigil UK Office

King Mswati III, the last remaining absolute monarchy in the world who rules the Kingdom of Swaziland with an iron fist since his late father Sobhuza II banned political parties through the 1973 decree continues to unleash his henchmen to rob Swazi citizens of their last means of survival. I could not help feeling disgusted but not at all surprised at an article on the online publication of the Times of Swaziland (13/02/2018) entitled, “Royal Emissary Takes 36 Cattle from Two Families”. What is really sickening about this article is that a partially blind man whose son is alleged to have been involved in rustling some of King Mswati’s cattle which number beyond thousands throughout the kingdom has had almost his whole kraal confiscated for the crime he personally had nothing to do with. Where is the justice accorded by the Swazi Constitution of 2005 here? Mswati’s thugs came to this man’s property by Royal Command to rob him in broad daylight, there was no due process of the law in this incidence and therefore no justice. Mswati chose to be the accuser, judge and executioner in a case he has vested interest in. Is this the precedence the Swazi head of state wants to set in matters requiring an impartial and independent judiciary to decide with fairness? As Swazi Vigil Human Rights and Political Activists we condemn this injustice which has become the norm in King Mswati’s dictatorship over the suffering Swazi Nation. We as Swazi Vigil demand political reforms that will give way to democracy in the kingdom, we demand the repeal of laws that impede liberties enshrined in the bill of rights of the Swazi Constitution, we call on King Mswati to step down as an absolute monarch and allow the Swazi Nation to elect its own government that will be accountable to the will of the majority and not the bootlickers that currently call themselves members of parliament.

Article by: Veli E Mamba

References:

http://www.times.co.sz/news/116609-royal-emissary-takes-36-cattle-from-two-families.html