The On the 27th of October 2011 Swaziland made history as the House of Assembly passed both bills on the same day. However there is still advocacy work to be done. Following the passing of the Bill by the House of Assembly it is to be debated and signed by the House of Senate before its presentation to His Majesty King Mswati III for Royal Assent.
Several weeks after the completion of the first phase, the Bill still remains in the House of Assembly due to administrative issues creating a barrier to its tabling in the House of Senate. In support of the enactment of the Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Bill, Swaziland Vigil UK participated in a walk which was organized by Care International UK (WALK IN HER SHOES), on the 8th of March 2015 at The Scoop at More London. Before we set off on our walk we had hosts of Radio 4's Woman's Hour Jane Garvey in conversation with -
- Gemma Arterton – an actress and Women's Equalities Campaigner [ best known for her role in James Bond Quantum of Solace and the hit West End Musical,
- Gemma Cairney - Radio 1 Dj
- Laura Bates - founder of the everyday sexism project
- Helen Pankuhurst - women's right activist in Ethiopia
- Jayanthi Kuru Utumpala - Sri Lanka equal rights campaigner
- Justice Greening - Secretary of State for International Development
Swazi Vigil UK activists:
- Khanyisile Ndlangamandla
- Clement M. Gama
- Theophilus (Theo) Ceko
- Christabel N. Magagula
- Delisile Kunene
- Rainy Dlamini
- Nokwazi Nxumalo
The above listed were representatives of Swaziland Vigil UK and women in Swaziland, who participated in the walk in support of the law which is still pending royal assent to enactment 5 years after it was passed in the house of assembly.
Our concern as Swazi Vigil UK activists and Swazis (eMaSwati) is: It has been 5 years now waiting for the royal assent for the bill to be made into law, why has this taken so long when the statistics of rape and child abuse, women's rights or lack thereof has escalated in Swaziland?
"Nine out of ten women in communities have been abused. They have been harassed, beaten, raped, mutilated or murdered, even in their own homes." a high level of violence towards women in the country.
The persistence of, and increase in sexual violence against women and girls is of great concern in Swaziland. Similarly, the lack of any protection remedies for women, whose lives are at risk from gender-based violence in the family, has been a long-standing concern of organizations in the country dedicated to improving the status of women and their quality of life. The extraordinarily high prevalence of HIV infection has also created a great sense of urgency, in light of the widely accepted view internationally that gender-based violence and women’s lack of legal equality and low socioeconomic status put them at increased risk of being infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
As the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis, expressed it in his speech in March 2004: “I’ve been in the Envoy job for nearly three years. If there is one constant throughout that time, a large part of which has been spent traversing the African continent, it is the thus-far irreversible vulnerability of women…gender inequality is what sustains and nurtures the virus, ultimately causing women to be infected in even greater disproportionate numbers.”
There is urgent need for the Government of Swaziland to implement reforms arising from the provisions of the new Constitution and having the effect of promoting gender equality consistent with international human rights standards.
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) refers to “Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. In 2010 alone, SWAGAA attended to a total of 1,578 cases of sexual and gender based violence. Between January and September 2011, 892 cases of human rights violations were reported to the organization. For over a decade, SWAGAA and other civil society organizations have been lobbying for the enactment of the Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Bill, and the Children’s Welfare and Protection Bill. Enacting this bill to become law will mean acts of violence against women, children and men will no longer be viewed as normal. It is the first step towards severe punishments for perpetrators of such violations.
The struggle continues…
By Nokwazi Nxumalo
. U.S. Department of State, Diplomacy in Action; 2010 Human Rights Report: Swaziland April 8, 2011. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/af/154372.htm. Accessed: 10 March 2015.
. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, Knowledge and Perceptions of Parents Regarding Child Sexual Abuse in Botswana and Swaziland; http://www.pediatricnursing.org/article/S0882-5963(05)00303-9/abstract. Accessed: 10 March 2015.
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The royal dictatorship has done it again… they have – through the Royal Swaziland Police (RSP) – caused disruption and confusion of and about a Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) meeting held at the Swaziland National Teachers Association (SNAT) Centre in Manzini on the 28th of February 2015.
The never ending excuses of the monarchy through and through is the inclusion of Multi-Party Democracy in TUCOSWA’s meeting agenda, of which according to Quinton Dlamini (TUCOSWA President) was not going to be removed regardless that the police wanted it off the agenda if the meeting was to go ahead as initially planned.
It was reported that the RSP had advised the management of Bosco Skill Centre in Manzini to revoke the permission given to TUCOSWA to hold their third anniversary meeting at the centre, hence the meeting ended up being held at the SNAT Centre.
The meeting was attended by close to a hundred TUCOSWA members, other members were however, blocked from entering the centre by the police who took over from the security guards who manned the gates while others were said to have been turned back by the police at roadblocks mounted around the country.
Even though the executive committee members led by Quinton Dlamini were permitted to address the members, it was clear the police intended to disrupt the meeting and had successfully caused confusion when they blocked other members from entering the premises.
Quinton is quoted expressing his disgust of the oppressive government in his speech saying “…the police started by threatening Bosco Skills Centre and now they have come here to stop the meeting. It is clear now that they do not want us to have the meeting...” Nonetheless Dlamini expressed TUCOSWA’s determination to continue the fight and struggle for democracy despite the government’s attempt to disrupt their meetings.
This meeting disruption caused the Trade Union Congress to resolve to holding the meeting outside Swaziland – in South Africa instead – on the 14th March 2015.
This kind of behaviour by the Swaziland government – precisely the king’s government – shows to anybody who has any kind of sense that oppression, suppression, dictatorial means are the order of the day, and representative democracy by the populace is a NO Go area in Swaziland. Swaziland is still being ruled by executive orders from the crown with no regard for the nation’s interest, with no allowance for freedom of expression, association and public gathering, unless of course those meeting are held to propagate the dictatorship’s agenda. Any dissenting views, opinions, speech, expressions of any sort are not allowed, otherwise anyone who tries to go against the state is imprisoned without fair trial…
For those imprisoned by the dictatorship, we are with you in spirit, we stand with you in continuing to announce to the world that Swaziland needs the international community and the Swazi people (eMaSwati) to liberate it from the clutches of the dictatorial monarchy and its “Yes” followers.
Aluta Kontinua... the struggle continues... until Swaziland is free.
By: Clement M. Gama
Swaziland Vigil UK Activist
. Swazi Media Commentary, Swazi Police Halt Democracy Meeting, http://swazimedia.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/swazi-police-halt-democracy-meeting.html; Accessed: 7th March 2015.
. Swazi Observer, Another Mayhem as TUCOSWA Meeting Fails; http://www.observer.org.sz/news/70827-another-mayhem-as-tucoswa-meet-fails.html; Accessed: 7th March 2015
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The injustice that persists in Swaziland keeps sending us a loud and clear message of the need for a major reform if not completely getting rid of the stale Tinkhundla System of Government. Once again the game rangers from Hlane Game Reserve have shown with such impunity that they are a law unto themselves, just as the Royal Swazi Police Force always gets away with murder. Without any remorse they shot a security guard on duty at the Inyoni Yami Swaziland Irrigation Scheme and to add salt to the wound they have gagged him from saying anything as he lays in pain at the Mbabane clinic. This beggs the question,if he was mistakenly shot for a poacher, why then not openly admit guilt and own up to the careless mistake? This would be the case if there was no foul play but we are certain about one thing, none of the rangers will face the law nor will the security guard get any reasonable compensation and that is the continuing injustice we will always condemn with every effort in us at Swaziland Vigil.
By Veli Mamba
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On Monday, the 19th of January 2015, the Swazi nation woke up to an order by King Mswati’s regime that schools which were meant to reopen on the 20th of January, should remain closed and to reopen on the 27th of January due to ongoing national duties (i.e. until the king's fields are weeded).
The order by King Mswati’s regime, that schools must remain closed until the kings field are weeded, is a serious promotion of child labour, and a serious violation - virtually the same as to denying learners right to education - it is wrong for children to miss out on school over a man’s field weeded ceremony. It is absolutely a disgrace how the government of Swaziland fails to prioritize important issues… whatever Mswati III commands takes priority over anything else. How can weeding the king's fields be more important than education, this is seriously a mock of our education system.
Sadly education in Swaziland is taken for granted, the Mswati regime constantly neglects the education system, by treating certain branches of its services far better than others, resources meant to improve the education system are diverted to sustain parasitic royal rule.
Schools in Swaziland are poorly equipped, school children hardly have access to books, school fees set up by the government are soaring thus preventing many children from attending school, because parents cannot afford to pay these high fees. Education is the right for every child, we therefore call on the Mswati regime to provide quality free education for all learners in Swaziland and to put an end to child labour.
By: Delisile Fiona Kunene
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The Swaziland Minister of Labour and Social Security, Winile Magagula, has instructed all workers and employers federations to cease operation in Swaziland with immediate effect. All federations have been deemed non-existent in terms of the Industrial Relations Act of 2000 and are stopped until the amendment of the Act has been passed by Parliament.
There was an oversight in the Act which failed to cater for the registration of labour and employer federations. This will be corrected by the amendment.
As a Swazi Vigil UK member I feel that is appalling, what happened to human rights and freedom of speech? Who will protect the workers in the interim while the Act is being amended? I do not see the point of this draconian ruling, Swazi citizens are not allowed to even protest, if they do, they are in danger of being killed or put into prison.
Swazi human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko and the editor of monthly publication, The Nation magazine, Bheki Makhubu, were found guilty of contempt of court by Swaziland High Court Judge Mpendulo Simelane on 17 July. Their crime was publishing articles in the February and March editions of the magazine.
They were sentenced to a two-year prison term on 25 July without the option of a fine. The sentence was backdated to 17 and 18 March 2014, the dates that they were taken into custody. The court also fined The Nation and Independent Publishers E50 000 each, payable within one month from the date of the sentencing.
The articles published were critical of Swaziland’s governance and judicial system as they criticised the arrest of the country’s chief vehicle inspector for executing his duties. Criticism was directed mainly at the country’s Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi for issuing a warrant of arrest for the inspector on the basis that he had given a ticket to the driver of a government vehicle who was transporting a judge without the required authorization.
Swazi Vigil UK, which was founded by Thobile Gwebu , is now well recognised in the United Kingdom and its members are committed to working towards Swaziland becoming a country that recognises human rights. Its members are all Swazi citizens based in the United Kingdom. They routinely congregate in front of the Swazi Embassy every Saturday without fail to protest against anything concerning human rights in Swaziland with the hope that our voices will be heard by the United Kingdom government and action will be implemented.
Swazi Vigil UK has been a success thus far as more Swazi citizens in the United Kingdom are becoming members and are no longer hiding in fear of the unknown. In Swaziland, if you are part of any organisation which is in opposition of the king’s ruling and you hold protests against his ruling, you are either killed or arrested and your family members are in danger of being killed. Being out of the country, we as Swazi Vigil UK are committed to continuing to spread the word and to stand for what we believe in. We have the advantage of being out of the country and can therefore protest freely.
Ms Gwebu and the members of Swazi Vigil UK have written a letter to the Queen expressing our concerns of human rights violation in Swaziland, which she responded positively to. We also signed a joint petition with the residents and citizens of the United Kingdom, as of 21 October, 70 000 people had signed the petition. Swazi Vigil UK is expecting the number of signatories to rise as more people become aware of what is happening in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
The petition was presented to the United Kingdom Prime Minister, David Cameron at 10 Downing Street, which he received.
As I was reading the newspaper, I came across an article written by Mbongeni Ndlela of the Times of Swaziland in which he talks about the Swazi Government spending an amount of E458 000 (£25 684.54) to buy curtains for theSwaziland College Of Technology in Mbabane, Swaziland. I feel that there are much better things the Government could have done with that amount of money to help the Swazi nation at large.
Looking at the cancer pandemic in Swaziland, as October is cancer awareness month, it was going to be a good gesture if the money was donated to building a chemotherapy ward in one of our Government hospitals. Currently, Swazi citizens need to go to neighboring country, South Africa for chemotherapy. It is only those who can afford to go, the underprivileged are left for dead.
I believe that if money is spent towards better healthcare facilities or equipment, the cancer survival rate in Swaziland will increase because cancer is curable with the correct treatment. I also believe that if chemotherapy would be available in the country, it would be more affordable than leaving the country to seek treatment in South Africa. So many people are dying because of the lack of funds to go outside the country and get treatment for cancer. The Swaziland government needs to make the public, especially the underprivileged, its first priority.
A lady of 21 years in my country, Hlengiwe Kunene from the Swaziland Breast Cancer Network,At the time of finding out about her breast cancer she has just been admited to Limkokwing University in persue to study Torisim .Due to the size of the tumour and aggressiveness of the cancer ,she needs chemotherapy as soon as possible.To ensure that she get a successful treatment she need to go for treatment in South Africa . She needs help from the nation at large to raise funds for chemotherapy treatment, but instead of the government looking at important issues like this one, they would rather buy curtains for E458 000!
Most Swazi nationals are underpaid. The results of this is that they cannot afford proper healthcare, which results in them dying from illnesses that could have been treated have they had the funds. Will it not then be a good idea for Swaziland to buy the right equipment used for chemotherapy for the nation rather than buying things which will not benefit the nation?
Situations like this one make me as a young Swazi citizen feel that our superiors only care for themselves since they are living a lavish life and can afford to go across our borders for treatment for themselves and loved ones. It feels as though it is none of their concern that there are those who do not have the means to travel to South Africa for treatment.
By Nokwazi Nxumalo
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