More and more Swazi people (EmaSwati) are facing forced evictions - in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic - by the Eswatini Government. In Madonsa township - Manzini, residents have been under threat of eviction for some years now, to make a way for the Eswatini National Provident Fund (ENPF) (Lidlelantfongeni), a national pension fund administrator organisation. The residents were served with a legal notice by ENPF to leave their homes by the 5th of March 2021, which meant they would be left with no alternative accommodation, no compensation and nowhere to go. These citizens in particular were legally allocated the land they are on through the chieftain system many years ago. These residents of the township are being made homeless by the same government which is supposed to lookout for them - ironic! This is a gross violation of their human rights, to say the least, worse for them as citizens of the same country that wants them evicted. It is appalling to see how the Eswatini Government is treating its citizens and making them homeless when people are in dire need for government assistance, especially now during the Coronavirus outbreak. These evictions are carried out by the police, and the government has sanctioned the destruction of many residents' homes using bulldozers.
Most land in Eswatini belongs to the King - he owns and holds it in trust of the nation - but it has become his personal farm, so to speak. The King has power to allocate land to individuals or families through chiefdoms - run by chiefs and their councils on behalf of the king. The chiefs allocate land to citizens through a traditional process called "kukhonta" (equivalent to integration / assimilation) - which could also be understood as naturalisation. The reminder of the land is Title-Deed Land, owned (legally on a 99 year lease) by private entities or permanently owned by the government. Recipients of Swazi Nation Land must pledge allegiance to their chiefs - thereby ultimately pledging allegiance to the king - they are also expected to render free labour to both the chiefs and king at certain seasons of the year and on events of chiefdom importance or kingdom importance. After going through the whole "kukhonta" process and redering free labour, citizens are still subjected to this horrendous treatment by the king's government - it is appalling.
Laws governing land in Eswatini and the broken system of human rights are failing the people. There is never a year without eviction of people in Eswatini. More citizens have been made homeless through forced evictions. The evictions have been a never ending problem with the citizens of Eswatini. Most people who have been evicted have been pushed to poverty, stress, anxiety and are still homeless and fighting endless battles against the government. These evictions involve a long epensive, exhausting legal process for the helpless people who - in most cases - cannot afford. There is no one they can turn to for help if the king is the puppet master pulling strings from behind the curtain.
Recently a farm of Mandla Mkhaliphi at Sicunusa was forcefully seized by Prince Sicalo, King Mswati's son. He deployed soldiers at Mr Mkhaliphi's farm to forcefully grab the farm from its owner and a quarry mine that was discovered in the farm. According to royalty, everything that is of value (especially natural resources) belongs to the king and his family, they do not want citizens to possess anything of great value or any mineral wealth; they forcefully take every good resource from the citizens as they (royalty) are above the law. This has to stop! As Swazi Vigil UK, we are calling on King Mswati to stop this brutality. All Swazi citizens deserve to be treated fairly and be protected by the king and his government. As Swazis (EmaSwati) we want to be free from all oppression and intimidation from the authorities! Enough is enough! Viva Swazi Vigil Viva!!!!!
By: Juliet Zodwa Dlamini
Incwala Ceremony Amidst a Health Crisis
The small country of Eswatini has been struggling against the COVID-19 pandemic since it reported its first case in March of last year (2020). The virus hit the country hard as it was ill-prepared to handle the pandemic, negatively affecting commerce, health, education and other sectors. After the lockdown was implemented, a number of measures were put in place in a bid to slow down the rate of infection, but they have done little to curb the surge of new cases of infection. These measures included mandatory social distancing, the use of sanitizers and wearing of masks in public spaces. Furthermore, the gathering of more than 20 people was prohibited and a nationwide curfew from 8pm-4am was enacted. These measures are enforced by the country’s police force as they arrest or fine anyone found to be in contradiction of these regulations.
Shocking Incwala Announcement
Since the beginning of December 2020, the Kingdom of Eswatini has experienced a huge surge in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and related deaths. In the midst of all that, King Mswati III shocked the Swazi nation when he announced that not only would the annual Incwala ceremony be held, but that it was open to all members of the public who wished to attend. The Incwala ceremony is a unique cultural event where the nation gathers together and celebrate the first fruit of harvest inside the Ludzidzini Cattle Byre. While gathered in this sacred place the nation also thanks God and the ancestors for all the blessings including rain, peace and the stability of the country. The ceremony has established itself as one of the major tourist attractions in the country, as thousands of tourists usually flock into the country to witness this cultural extravaganza. This year however was a different story as very few tourists were in attendance since the commencement of the event. The nation was shocked by the behaviour of the king, whilst all social gatherings are prohibited to curb the spread of the virus and to ease the pressure on the health system. Why did the Incwala ceremony go ahead? It was just so shocking and confusing for such coming from the king in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic. He is supposed to look and care for the wellbeing of the people, and now he has exposed them to danger, the country has just lost Prime Minister Mandvulo Dlamini due to this virus, one would think it was a wake-up call to everyone that this virus kills! But it was the opposite to the king with his Incwala! Lots of people were infected in the ceremony, some have lost their lives and the hospitals and COVID Centres are full to their capacity.
Those that tested positive for the Corona virus were unfortunately turned back and sent home, as the designated areas that were allocated for the treatment of Covid-19 patients were full at the time. Adding to the difficulties is the continuing number of healthcare workers who test positive for the virus. Thus, positive citizens are left with no choice but to be taken care of by their ill-informed and inexperienced families, who in most cases have nothing to protect themselves against this deadly virus but facial masks. Unfortunately, the government does not distribute Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the carers of the infected as it has been in deficit since the beginning of the pandemic.
It is worth noting that since the end of the Incwala ceremony there has been a shortage of testing kits in the country, as a result hospitals and clinics are currently only testing symptomatic individuals. Citizens who request testing because they have been in contact with an infected person are turned away and asked to return when they start showing signs of infection.
In addition, the prescribed medication for those infected tends to run out as the country has been battling with the shortage of medication since before the pandemic. This further aids the spread of the virus and increases the virus’s death toll.
As the COVID-19 statistics surge in the country, funeral parlours are struggling to cope with the collection of corpses from hospitals and homesteads. The country’s biggest funeral home and crematorium are unable to meet the demand as they have exceeded their storage capacity, they can no longer collect corpses from homesteads and clinics as the rate in which deaths are occurring is too high. The government is not providing them with PPE either, they have had to dig deep into their coffers and procure disposable suites. Despite these precautionary measures the Funeral Homes take when engaging in their duties, a substantive number of their staff members had contracted the virus while rendering their services because of the shortage of PPE.
By: Zodwa Juliet Dlamini
King Mswati III has introduced the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA) to steal property and money from the poor citizens of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). He has taken a lot of money to waste with his wives and children.
As we speak right now one of his wives' jewellery worth almost a million Emalangeni ($59,000USD) each has gone missing, and the king has been buying expensive cars for his wives and children, and royalty has also been buying expensive clothes and going for expensive holidays, and yet the citizenry has been going hungry and without proper health-care.
Now there are people in the villages that don not have money to take their children to school, they do not have money to even buy food, they don’t have proper shelter and yet again there is money to waste on things that are not important . The government is failing to look after the citizens.
Hospitals, right now don’t have equipment and medicine they need, like beds, food and many others because the government has not paid it's debts. At present there is no food for patients in hospitals, nurses are serving patients with bread for meals and yet government has money to waste on royalty extravagant spending and lifestyles.
The food problem is one of the many facing the health care service in Eswatini which is caused by the government's inability to pay suppliers. There are shortages of drugs across the kingdom and many people have died as a result including children. Even ambulances are not enough.
Given the above circumstances, how can the king can have money to buy expensive cars, jewelleries and worse expect the nation to keep quiet, it is not fair for the poor citizens that cannot speak out.
By: Bukile Nxumalo
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