It comes as no surprise again to read in the Times Of Swaziland about Police in Swaziland beating students at the University Of Swaziland (UNISWA) for protesting on issues of concern within the University.
 
Every year at the University we see students protest against authorities, one asks himself "Why do we always have such boycott protests by students?" it is clear that the authorities are not doing what they were employed to do. The worse part of this I find disturbing is why is the Police force called in, as they know very well that police beat the students some get arrested for voicing their concerns .The institution has failed itself by relying on the Police force . The institution has failed itself as it no longer trusts or believes in constructive dialogue.
 
When I was growing up I believed that the police were there to serve and to protect the people but now they are used by the government to torture and kill people .
There is no freedom of speech in Swaziland as there is still the 1973 king's decree which banned all political parties in Swaziland, parties which stand for democracy, freedom of speech, human rights and gender equality.
 
Last year on the 13th of June 2015, the Times Of Swaziland published an article about a Mozambican man who used to work in a hairdressing salon in Manzini, Police came in, arrested him as they suspected him of doing wrong. The people around the salon heard the police threatening him saying they were going to kill him, later that day there was an announcement that the man police arrested earlier had passed away while being interrogated by the police. The report came out stating the man died from a headache yet he died from being tortured . The man named Luciano Zavale died in the hands of the CiD Criminal Investigation Officers in Manzini Police Station on that day.
 
This has changed a lot from what I believed, a man died in the hands of what we had believed is there to serve and to protect us. The Government of Swaziland uses the police force to beat and torture people who protest and voice their opinions against the state or the king or for being political activists, as they say such behaviour is action against the king.
 
As a member of Swazi Virgil UK, I will continue to voice out and campaign against the Government of Swaziland for freedom of speech, democracy and human rights until the whole world hears us.
 
VIVA SWAZI VIRGIL VIVA !!!! Amandla !!!
 
By: Mkhosi Shiba

 

There is no oversight on how Swaziland’s King Mswati III, his fourteen wives and vast royal family spend public money. In Swaziland the King’s word is a proclamation. Once he speaks nobody is allowed to question him.

 

The truth about of the King’s spending has been consistently hidden from the Swazi people, his budget is never debated in parliament, and audits of the budget are only presented to the King himself and the Royal Board of Trustees chaired by the minister of finance.

 

Media in Swaziland have access to the full budget estimates which contain information about the King’s budget but do not publish it. State media in the kingdom are heavily censored and the private media censors itself when reporting about the King. The source of much of King Mswati’s income remains a secret.

In 2009, Forbes magazine estimated that the King himself had a personal net fortune worth US$200 million. Forbes also said King Mswati was the beneficiary of two funds created by his father King Sobhuza II in trust for the Swazi nation. During his reign, he has absolute discretion over the use of the income. The trust has been estimated to be worth US$10 billion.

In August 2014 the Sunday Times newspaper in South Africa reported King Mswati personally received millions of dollars from international companies such as phone giant MTN; sugar conglomerates IIIovo and Remgro; Sun International hotels and beverages firm SAB Miller.

It reported that MTN, which has a monopoly of the cell phone business in Swaziland, paid dividends directly to the King. He holds 10 percent of the shares in MTN in Swaziland and is referred to by the company as an ‘esteemed shareholder’. It said MTN had paid R114 million (US$11.4 million) to the King over the past five years.

 

The newspaper also reported that the King was receiving income from Tibiyo TakaNgwane, which paid dividends in 2013 of R218.1 million. The newspaper reported ‘several sources’ who said it was ‘an open secret’ that although money generated by Tibiyo was meant to be used for the benefit of the nation, Tibiyo in fact channelled money directly to the Royal Family.

 

Meanwhile, seven in ten of Swaziland’s tiny 1.4 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than US$2 a day; three in ten are so hungry they are medically diagnosed as malnourished and the kingdom has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world.

Despite the poverty of the kingdom, King Mswati continues to live a lavish lifestyle. He has 13 palaces, fleets of top-of-the-range Mercedes and BMW cars, at least one Rolls Royce and a private jet.

 

By: Sihle Siphesihle Tsabedze‏

The African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA is a legislation that has been approved by the U.S. Congress in May 2000. The purpose of this legislation is to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the United States and the region. The legislation authorized the President of the United States to determine which sub-Saharan African countries would be eligible for AGOA on an annual basis. The eligibility criteria was to improve labour rights and movement toward a market-based economy. Each year, the president evaluates the sub-Saharan African countries and determines which countries should remain eligible.

It is no surprise that Swaziland has failed to comply with these rules. A press conference due to be held by the US Embassy on Monday (19 May 2014) to make the announcement was called off at the last minute. No reason for the cancellation or alternative date for the announcement was given. The United States had given Swaziland an ultimatum to implement the full passage of amendments to the Industrial Relations Act; full passage of amendments to the Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA 2008); full passage of amendments to the Public Order Act; full passage of amendments to sections 40 and 97 of the Industrial Relations Act relating to civil and criminal liability to union leaders during protest actions; and establishing a code of conduct for the police during public protests. They failed to implement any change.

On 1 January 2015, the US President Obama issued a proclamation removing Swaziland from the list of sub-Saharan African beneficiaries that receive duty-free access to U.S. markets under the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Some observers fear that Swaziland’s exit from AGOA will have a profound impact on the country’s economy, which is already experiencing close to 40 percent unemployment. A number of experts have credited AGOA with helping to boost the Swazi garment industry; however, without preferential U.S. market access, the industry is expected to contract, resulting in the loss of approximately 17,000 jobs, according to one official from the Federation of Swaziland Employers.

As Swaziland Vigil UK, we will continue fighting against such traditions and practices because these are the very core violations of human rights the Swazi regime exercises without even the possibility of being challenged. We continue to FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY IN SWAZILAND, FREEDOM OF SPEECH, HUMAN RIGHTS AND ALSO WOMEN's RIGHTS until the whole world hears us.

By: Sakhile Hlatshwako

References:

1. http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/africa-in-focus/posts/2014/06/27-swaziland-agoa-africa-union-summit-trade-copley
2. http://agoa.info/news/article/5411-swaziland-confusion-over-kingdom-s-agoa-status.html
3. http://www.observer.org.sz/news/60744-it%E2%80%99s-difficult-to-get-back-agoa-usa.html.

FROM THE SWAZILAND VIGIL
 
MEDIA NOTICE – 5th DECEMBER 2015
 
SWAZIS present petition to 10 Downing Street
 
Exiled SWAZIS are presenting a petition to 10 Downing Street in an attempt to ensure that the Commonwealth take action against KING MSWATI III to allow for democracy and respect of human rights in Swaziland.
A letter accompanying the petition thanks David Cameron for his recent promise to push for democracy in Swaziland.
 
The petition reads: ‘Exiled Swazis and supporters urge you to suspend Swaziland from the commonwealth until there is democracy and an end to human rights abuses in Swaziland'
 
The petition has been signed in the past 3 years by more than 10,000 people from all over the world who have passed by the Swazi Vigil, which has been held outside the Swaziland High Commission in London every Saturday for the past 5 years in protest at human rights abuses.
 
The Vigil fears that King Mswati III will continue to imprison, torture and kill activists in Swaziland if there is no democracy.
 
Before the petition is handed over, the Vigil and supporters of the Swazi vigil will demonstrate outside 10 Downing street, with the singing and drumming.
 
Date: Saturday 12th December from 10:00am - 1:00pm
Venues: 20 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1 E6LB
 
Timetable: 10:00am - 1:00pm – meet outside the Swaziland High Commission
 
2:30 – move to 10 Downing Street
3:00pm – Vigil Petition handed in to 10 Downing Street
3:30pm end
 
Contacts: Thobile Gwebu +44 78 7316 4482
Veli Mamba +44 79 6062 2878
Lodiwe Ndwandwe +44 75 1727 4324
 
From: The Swaziland Vigil UK Office

News that spread internationally that in Swaziland only King Mswati III should be afforded the honour of a red carpet at special events reminds us of another time the King wanted to assert his superiority over his subjects.
That time, according to a cable from the US Embassy in Swaziland, the King made his advisors sweat in 40-degree heat in a basement to demonstrate his power over them.
The issue of the red carpet emerged when it was reported that the red carpet at the Business Woman of the Year Awards ceremony this year (2015) was rolled away. The same happened at the Swaziland Inter Municipal Games Association (SIGA). The Times of Swaziland, the only independent newspaper in the kingdom, reported that the Swazi Police had ordered SIGA to remove the red carpet. Barnabas Dlamini, the Swazi Prime Minister, was at the event to give a speech. According to Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) the police had acted on king's orders.

But the Royal Swaziland Police denied any such order from anyone let alone from the king. This is the usual tactic they use, ...violate human rights and when the international community expresses discontent about it, the Swazi regime denies responsibility and dismisses the whole act as some light-hearted activity at the discretion of some individual etc... In this case the police spokesperson Superintendent Khulani Mamba pulled the same trick by distancing the police from the BAN of using red carpets during public or private functions. And yet he did confirm the police did order the functions' organisers to roll-up the red carpet... he claimed "...no specific individual instructed the cops to remove the red carpet but was feeling of those who were waiting to welcome him (the prime minister) that such good gesture may be lost in interpretation, hence the decision to remove it".

I believe it is and should be the right of every individual to use any rug / carpet / tiles / fabric etc of any colour they prefer and choose without interference from the state or government. I strongly object to King Mswati III and his cohorts to his meddling with citizen's fundamental rights to use commodities as they wish. I do not accept that the monarchy holds a proprietary right and access to certain colours and to certain coloured rugs... its a basic human right to clothe and adorn oneself as it suits within the golden rules of not hurting anyone else in the process.
As part of the Swazi Vigil UK protest group, I call upon the king to come to his senses and realise the stupidity with which he conducts himself and the way he heads the country... Phansi ngaMswati Phansi!!!

The king's unwise behaviour in running the country has caught the eyes of the international community as quoted by the American Embassy in Swaziland's cable to Washington which stated that King Mswati was "...not intellectually well developed..., was not a reader..., was imbalanced..., has a lack of wisdom..." etc. This shames us as Swazi people (eMaSwati) when someone who should be holding a high esteemed position in our country is seen to be any of these descriptions, not because they are just belittling him, but because of his actions, his behaviour and the way he runs the country like his personal farm... speaking of which Swaziland in many ways is his farm since the 1973 King's Proclamation gives him the sole ownership of the country and all state owned real-estate.
That is the very reason I stand with our comrades at Swazi Vigil and call for the respect of human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion etc in Swaziland. We will continue to fight until there is Full Democracy in Swaziland... Phambili Swazi Vigil, Phambili!!!

Viva Swazi Vigil Viva!!

By: Zodwa Dlamini

References:

  1. Swazi Media, PETTINESS OF THE KING'S RED CARPET, Richard Rooney, 2 December 2015 http://swazimedia.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/pettiness-of-kings-red-carpet.html; Date Accessed: 05-12-2015.
  2. Facebook, Save Amos Mbedzi-Release All Political Prisoners (SWAZILAND), Lucky Lukhele, 24 November 2015, https://www.facebook.com/www.ssnonline.net/posts/613015975505639; Date Accessed: 05-12-2015.
  3. Times of Swaziland, SIGA ORDERED TO REMOVE RED CARPET AT GALA DINNER, Sibongile Sukati, 25 November 2015, http://www.times.co.sz/news/105713-siga-ordered-to-remove-red-carpet-at-gala-dinner.html; Date Accessed: 05-12-2015