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

 

 

We will not be silent – Speaking is not criminal!

As a Swazi living in the UK I am saddened and even embarrassed by what is happening in my country of birth. Swaziland is the last absolute monarchy, King Mswati III rules with an iron hand, political parties remained banned, criticizing the government is illegal. And courts suppress free speech, in February this year 2014 Lawyer Thulani Maseko and journalist Bheki Makhubu published articles on the king’s control of courts they were charged with contempt of court and thrown into jail. Reading everyday about fellow Swazis and comrades jailed by the draconian Swazi regime for their calls for freedom of expression and association in Swaziland cannot be ignored. These prisoners of conscience have been incarcerated for demanding full democratization of our beloved country.

In Swaziland, dissenting and opposing voices are silenced, harassed and thrown into jail. The system of government is based on one man with all political authority, which is sanctioned by the constitution; this is the supreme law of the land. Section 79 of the 2005 Constitution prohibits the lawful existence and recognition of political parties, which effectively undermines democracy and democratic governance. This management is not only contrary to developments in Africa post-1990, but it is absolutely at variance with international human rights standards and international laws.

The lack of freedom of assembly and speech is ruining the country and I refuse to sit and do nothing about it, I am glad that living in the UK and being a member of Swazi Vigil UK has given us the platform to express our opinions about what is happening in Swaziland without the fear of persecution. The majority of Swazis are tapped by fear of losing their jobs and persecution if they identify with the struggle but we have the opportunity to freely expose the corruption in Swaziland by Mswati III and his regime.

Democracy in SD is not taken seriously by the government and anyone who opposes the present government is dealt with heavily. The reaction of the Prime Minister to the Unionists who went to the US (Washington) during the US-African Leaders Summit hosted by President Barack Obama, the Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini used very harsh words and said they will be ‘strangled.’ One then wonders is there something the world doesn’t have to know about Swaziland kutsi sekungaze kukhanywe bantfu?

If you are a Political activist in Swaziland you are seen as a ‘troublemaker’ you end up being evicted, lose scholarship if at the University, lose your job, or denied jobs, you are made to pay the price heavily in many ways. We cannot remain silent about this!

The time for action and to fight evil is now and it all begins with individuals committing to overcoming the fear barrier. Through a platform like Swazi Vigil UK I have the opportunity actively campaign against corruption and fight for freedom.

Its appalling to see how the country is treating PUDEMO’s Mario Masuku by denying him access to legal representation and medical attention by the officials of Mswati’s Correctional Services. The complete disregard of the of the law by officials claiming that they are following orders seems to be a growing trend especially where political activists are concerned. This is a gross abuse of human rights in Swaziland and cannot be ignored anymore. I am saddened and outraged by the manner in which Masuku who has been leading the effort to fight for the freedom of the Swazi people by speaking the truth to power has been victimised by the authorities.

The communities do not want to be seen to be supportive of activists, they live in constant fear. People say Swazis are quiet but the truth is Swazis are scared and fearful of the regime. A few months ago in the community of KaLuhleko where there is a chieftaincy dispute, old people in their 70s were taken into interrogation by the police and strangled, harassed and tortured. It is sad to see the highest form of cruelty used on old and helpless citizens. The police are not scared to use any tools of intimidation to silence anyone who speaks out for democracy. Swaziland does not respect Human rights and there is absolutely no freedom of speech at all. You are only free to speak if what you speak pleases the king. If not, you will be quickly silenced by the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2008, Public Order Act 1963, Sedition and Subversive Activities Act 1938.

 

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !!!! If there is any need for collective action, that time is now! We cannot sit around and watch the country go up in flames. We need to show our support in a practical way. And it begins with individual Swazis all over the world committing to overcoming the fear barrier. Creating awareness wherever we are. We have to fight the evil today. We cannot therefore remain silent! Viva Swazi Vigil UK Viva!!!

NOMPUMELELO CHRISTABEL MAGAGULA

BLATANT CORRUPTION

The recent purchase of a E2.2Million BMW 7 series for Prince Omari is a typically blatant display of corruption and shameless flaunting of ill gotten wealth.
While the German company BMW might be very pleased with the custom of King Mswati lll, this is yet another royal splurge at the expense of the taxpayer.

A large proportion of people, taxpaying or not, live in abject poverty in Swaziland. From a population of 1.2million, 70% are at or below the national poverty line.

In 2011 the government announced that grandmothers would not receive their pensions due to "limited resources".
The amount of the stipend is only US$73 (£45) per three-month period, but the majority of elderly live in chronic poverty and the suspension of the pensions will hinder their ability to purchase food, medicines and care for their grandchildren.

Despite this, King Mswati has increased his annual household budget for 2014 to $61 million.
The King owns a private jet, a fleet of luxury cars and has a fortune estimated at $100 million.

With the highest prevalence of HIV in the world, at 25% ,leaving thousands of orphans and the aforementioned poverty, it is wholly shameful that at least some of this wealth is not used to alleviate the suffering of the Kings subjects.

Londiwe Ndwandwe