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Friday, 29 July 2016


Desperately poor people in Swaziland have been camping outside one of King Mswati III’s offices over many months to ‘beg’ the King for work, according to local media.

They said they would rather die than return to poverty, the Times of Swaziland reported on Friday (29 July 2016).

The newspaper, the only independent daily in the kingdom where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported, ‘Many months have gone by as the group of unemployed citizens from different parts of the country camped daily outside the King’s Office at Nkhanini, hoping to be called in.’

In Swaziland nearly seven in ten of the 1.3 million population live in abject poverty with incomes less than US$2 per day.

The Times reported, ‘However, on numerous occasions, the undeterred group would be told that there were currently no vacancies but would continue to sit and hope for a different answer.’

The newspaper reported the jobseekers spoke ‘on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation’. 

They said they ‘would rather die outside the gates of Nkhanini than to return to poverty’.

The Times reported, ‘They said they were sending a plea to Their Majesties to find it befitting to issue a Royal Command for them to be given jobs as they were currently ravaged by poverty.’

It added, ‘They said they were determined to go to Their Majesties to beg for the jobs.’

They had heard rumours that there were vacancies for jobs such as cleaning staff, groundsmen and other general duties, which did not require special skills in order to carry out.

It is difficult to get accurate figures on unemployment in Swaziland, but the CIA World Fact Book put the rate at 40 percent in 2014.

While poverty continues to grip Swaziland it was revealed by an international news agency this week that King Mswati’s annual budget had been increased to US$69.8 million in the current financial year. The Anadolu Agency quoted official figures from the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland’s estimates for the years from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2019 report. It said the royal budget was US$55.3 million in the last financial year, but this year it has been increased by US$13.9 million.

King Mswati has a reputation outside of Swaziland as a lavish spender. He has at least 13 palaces, a fleet of top-of-the-range- Mercedes and BMW cars. He is about to take delivery of a 375-seater private jet worth about US$14 million paid for by his Government.

In March 2016, it was revealed the King’s share of the just-reopened Lufafa Gold Mine at Hhelehhele in the Hhohho region of Swaziland could be worth up to US$149 million. 

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Thursday, 28 July 2016


Swaziland’s King Mswati III’s royal budget has been increased to US$69.8 million in the current financial year, an international news agency has reported.

The Anadolu Agency quoted official figures from the “Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland’s estimates for the years from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2019” report. It said the royal budget was US$55.3 million in the last financial year, but this year it has been increased by US$13.9 million.
The budget also has an extra US$6.7 million allocation for the king’s private jet.

Details of King Mswati’s budget are not made public in the kingdom he rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. King Mswati is regularly criticised outside of Swaziland for his lavish spending. At present 300,000 of his 1.3 million subjects need financial aid to stop from starving during the present drought that has hit southern Africa.

Anadolu reported that in addition to the US$69.8 million, the budget for construction of link roads to royal palaces has been increased by US$6.4 million. It was US$2 million in the last budget.

The royal houses budget was also increased by US$10 million to reach US$17 million, the agency reported.

Royal emolument and civil list, which includes salaries for the King, the Queen Mother and others in the royal service, were allocated US$25.8 million in the current financial year.

Since the budget was announced in February 2016, a further US$14 million will be spent on a 375-seater private jet for the King.

Meanwhile, Swaziland is suffering the worst drought in memory. As of the end of May 2016, UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund – estimated 300,320 people in total in Swaziland were affected by drought of which 189,000 were children. It estimated that 165,000 children affected were by drought in the two most affected regions of Lubombo and Shiselweni.

A total of 200,897 people were food insecure, of which 90,404 were children. Of these, 8,460 children aged six to 59 months were affected by ‘severe and moderate acute malnutrition’.

Meanwhile, the Swazi Government has released only E22 million (US$1.5 million) of the E305 million earmarked for drought relief in this year’s national budget. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported on 11 July 2016 that the Deputy Prime Minister Paul Dlamini announced this to the House of Assembly.

The newspaper reported he ‘failed to explain the reasons behind government’s failure to purchase and distribute food to the affected communities’. 

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), a pro-democracy organization, strongly criticized the increase in the royal budget.

‘It's sad that the country's social expenditure always takes a back seat to satisfy the king’s greed. It’s a painful act that shows that if he had his own way he would keep all the country's money to himself,’ Anadolu quoted a spokesperson for SSN saying.

King Mswati also receives income from a variety of businesses in the kingdom. For example, he holds 25 percent of all mineral wealth ‘in trust for the Swazi nation’. In reality he uses this money to fund his lavish lifestyle, which includes 13 palaces, a private jet, fleets of Mercedes and BMW cars and at least one Rolls Royce.

In March 2016, it was revealed the King’s share of the just-reopened Lufafa Gold Mine at Hhelehhele in the Hhohho region of Swaziland could be worth up to US$149 million. 

Meanwhile, seven in ten of his subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day.

Anadolu reported the royal budget was not allowed to be debated by the local parliament or scrutinized by the Public Accounts Committee. In fact, it is a normal government practice to not include any details about the royal budget in the budget speech, it said.

While the King’s budget soared, grants for the elderly was reduced by $488,000 from $12.3 million to $11.8 million, according to budget documents.

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016


One of Swaziland’s few independent newspapers the Times Sunday has made a concerted attack on ‘Asians’ in the kingdom, declaring them to be cheats and scoundrals.

It follows the decision of the Swazi House of Assembly to set up a committee to investigate illegal immigration into Swaziland and for the banning of entry permits to people from Asia.
The newspaper is breaking its own code of ethical conduct in reporting.

One of the anti-Asian cheerleaders is Innocent Maphalala, the editor of the Times Sunday. Writing in his own newspaper on Sunday (24 July 2016), he said there was an ‘influx’ of immigrants from Pakistan and India, but gave no statistics to support his comment.

I do not want to repeat much of Maphalala column as it would only spread his racist comments to a wider audience. However, he attacked Asian businesses as being cheats and he complained that shops were closed on Friday mornings, a time during the week when Muslims go to prayer.

Despite his fierce attacks he did not interview one Asian person for comment.

Maphalala’s comments break Article 6 of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) Code of Conduct which says journalists must not ‘originate material which encourages discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, colour, creed, gender or sexual orientation’. He quoted nobody either in favour or against his proposition that Asians were cheats and is therefore responsible for originating the material.

Although it is important for SNAJ to have a code of conduct about racist reporting, unfortunately Article 6 lacks details and is not that useful for journalists who are trying to do the right thing.

This kind of racism is not confined to Swaziland. Journalists in other parts of the world have to confront racists and racist attitudes every day and have created their own codes of conduct. 

One that is more detailed than that of SNAJ is from the National Union of Journalists in the UK. 

Here is an extract from its guidelines that journalists in Swaziland might like to take note of.

Guidelines ratified by the National Union of Journalists (UK and Ireland) for all its members to follow when dealing with race relations subjects.
The NUJ believes that its members cannot avoid a measure of responsibility in fighting the evil of racism as expressed through the mass media. 

The NUJ reaffirms its total opposition to censorship but equally reaffirms its belief that press freedom must be conditioned by responsibility and an acknowledgement by all media workers of the need not to allow press freedom to be abused to slander a section of the community or to promote the evil of racism. 

The NUJ believes the methods and lies of the racists should be publicly and vigorously exposed. 

The NUJ believes that newspapers and magazines should not originate material which encourages discrimination on grounds of race or colour, as expressed in the NUJ's rule book and code of conduct. 

The NUJ believes that editors should ensure that coverage of race stories should be placed in a balanced context. 

Race reporting

Only mention someone’s race if it is strictly relevant. 

Do not sensationalise race relations issues.

Immigrant is often used as a term of abuse. Do not use it unless the person really is an immigrant. 

Be wary of disinformation. Just because a source is traditional does not mean it is accurate. 

When interviewing representatives of racist organisations or reporting meetings or statements or claims, journalists should carefully check all reports for accuracy and seek rebutting or opposing comments. The anti-social nature of such views should be exposed. 

Do not allow the letters column or 'phone-in' programmes to be used to spread racial hatred in whatever guise.

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Tuesday, 26 July 2016


Children’s rights in Swaziland are under protected and are in a ‘difficult situation,’ according to a global survey.

The kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, scored 6.07 out of ten in The Realization of Children’s Rights Index (RCRI).

This is a grade between zero and ten that shows the level of realization of children’s rights in a country.  The lower the score, the lower is the realisation of rights. The RCRI index classified rights for children in Swaziland as a ‘difficult situation’.

The survey was conducted by Humanium, an international child sponsorship NGO dedicated to stopping violations of children’s rights throughout the world.

In a report Humanium highlighted a number of areas where children’s rights were violated. It said that some children ‘remain starving’ while the King ‘leads a lifestyle of luxury’.

It reported, ‘Along with the general economic slowdown as in all countries and the significant increase in unemployment these factors have made numerous households – already unable to feed their own children – turn away orphans or other needy children who would, in other times, be welcomed in the name of the “extended family.”

‘Even though some schools can offer daily, adequate lunches to children thanks to external financial aid, there are still many who remain starving, notably in the country.

‘It should be noted that the government is several months late in paying for aid for needy children, yet the King leads a lifestyle of luxury.’

Humanium added, ‘The health, hygienic, and water supply systems are in poor condition and have led to an outbreak of illnesses such as cholera and diarrheal sicknesses that still kill many children.

‘Each day children beg their neighbors for water. Many schools do not have running water and must count on deliveries from the government to fill their reservoirs during the dry season. However, this doesn’t always happen in zones that are further away.’

It added, ‘By necessity, many children become prostitutes to survive. Given the level of poverty, exploitation and sexual services are rising. The lack of measures taken to raise awareness and prevent these types of practices towards children is deplorable.’

The report is not the only one to highlight the plight of children in Swaziland. In April 2016, UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund – reported it needed US$151,200 for its Child Protection work relating to the drought that has hit Swaziland. In June 2016 it reported that no money at all was forthcoming. It estimated that 189,000 children under the age of 18 were affected by the drought.

UNICEF reported in April 2016, ‘The UNICEF Child Protection and HIV response remains unfunded. Consequently, activities prioritizing protection of children from violence, abuse and exploitation and the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, both of which are long standing issues in Swaziland, remain to be implemented.’

Disabled children are also mistreated in Swaziland. Earlier in July 2016, the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported that two disabled orphan children in Swaziland had been hidden from the world after a government official told their family it would harm the image of the kingdom if people knew of their condition.

The newspaper reported, ‘Their family was allegedly given strict instructions not to ever show the children to anyone or even discuss their condition in public.

‘It has been alleged by the head of the family where the two children stay that officials from certain government offices barred and gave strict instructions not to show the children to anyone because making their condition known would place the country in bad light.’

The newspaper added, ‘The children suffer from a rare disability and some of those who know about the children suspect they suffer from polio.’

Also, a report on people trafficking in Swaziland published in 2014 said the King used forced child labour to work in his fields. ‘Swazi chiefs may coerce children and adults - through threats and intimidation - to work for the King,’ the report from the United States State Department said.  


Monday, 25 July 2016


Following Swaziland’s decision to ban all Asian people from entering the kingdom comes news that a group of Asians have been evicted from their home and banished from the area simply because they are Asian.

The incident happened at Mgazini, according to the Observer on Sunday newspaper in Swaziland.

The newspaper reported on Sunday (24 July 2016) that a group of 12 ‘Asian nationals’ were ordered out of an area on the outskirts of Mankayane.

They had rented a homestead from a local resident, but were later ordered out of the area by the area’s chief’s representative Indvuna Xolani Vilakati. The Indvuna or headman reportedly did not meet with the Asians, ‘but only heard of their presence in the area’.

The newspaper reported, ‘Vilakati said he ordered them out because they had not been reported to the area’s authorities and therefore accommodating them in the area with unknown motives would cause problems for them.’

The newspaper said residents saw the Asians in the homestead and their presence was reported to a member of the area’s bandlancane (council). The newspaper said the residents were concerned about ‘foreign people being accommodated in one of the homes’.

The Asians left the area when requested.

There are heightened tensions in Swaziland following a decision by the Swazi Government to set up a committee to investigate immigration of people from Asia, mostly India and Pakistan. Meanwhile, the House of Assembly suspended issuing entry permits to all Asian people.  

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Friday, 22 July 2016


Over the past 18 months, Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) has received support from UNISON to build international support for human rights and democracy in Swaziland, the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC) reported.

ACTSA organised and hosted a visit to the UK by Vincent Ncongwane, the then Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), in March 2015. 

The TUC reported, ‘Vincent met with the then Minister for Africa and senior officials at the Commonwealth Secretariat, as well as with a wide range of civil society organisations, including trade unions. Vincent was able to use these meetings to stress the need for the UK and Commonwealth to step up their engagement with the Government of Swaziland so that it fulfils its international obligations. He also called on bilateral and multilateral agencies to more actively support the work of Swazi civil society.’

ACTSA has produced a range of campaign materials. Most recently, ACTSA has published a new briefing paper Swaziland’s Downward Spiral: The International Community Must Act Now. The paper warns that Swaziland may plunge into a protracted crisis unless the international community, including the UK, applies serious pressure on the Government of Swaziland so that it respects human rights and develops a genuinely democratic constitution. UNISON and other UK trade unionists have also been supportive of the development of a Swazi Rural Women’s Charter, which is discussed in another new ACTSA publication Women’s Rights in Swaziland

The paper reported that King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, was one of the main reasons why women in the kingdom remain oppressed. ACTSA reported that despite claims that Swaziland was a modern country, ‘the reality is, despite pledges and commitments, women continue to suffer discrimination, are treated as inferior to men, and are denied rights.’

ACTSA added, ‘The King has demonstrated he is unwilling to change the status quo and promotes multiple aspects of the patriarchal society.’

In a separate report, ACTSA called on the international community to apply serious pressure on the Government of Swaziland so that it respects human rights and develops a genuinely democratic constitution. 

The absolute monarch King Mswati III is due to become the chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in August 2016 while his government continues to violate human rights with impunity. In its report published in June 2016), ACTSA warned that Swaziland might plunge into a protracted crisis unless African governments, as well as bilateral and multilateral donors, vigorously and consistently engage with the Government of Swaziland so that it genuinely protects and serves all of its citizens.

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Thursday, 21 July 2016


The luxury trip to Florida costing about US$1 million by at least three of the wives of King Mswati III of Swaziland and an entourage of about 100 people continues a tradition of lavish spending by sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch and his family.

The Queens are on a week-long trip to the US state. Their trips are always shrouded in secrecy and the media in Swaziland never report them. Not so, the international media and social media.

Here are details of some of the Swazi Royal Family’s most extravagant trips in recent years. King Mswati rules over a population of 1.2 million; seven in ten live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 a day.

In 2013, several of the King’s wives – he is estimated to have 14, but the exact number remains a secret – travelled to Japan and Australia on a trip estimated to have cost US$10 million.

In 2012, they went on vacation to the gambling capital of the world, Las Vegas in the United States. On that occasion three of the wives were accompanied by an entourage of 55 people. Prodemocracy activists reported they stayed in 10 villas at the cost of US$2,400 per villa per night.

In 2010, a group of the king’s wives went on what was described at the time as ‘another multi-million-dollar international shopping spree’ to Brussels in Belgium and London, UK. About 80 other people went on the trip to tend to the needs of the queens.

In August 2009, five of King Mswati’s wives went on a shopping trip through Europe and the Middle East that cost an estimated US$6 million.

At the time media in Swaziland were warned not to report on the trip because it would harm the king’s reputation. Media houses were told they would face sanctions, including possible closure, if word got out. But newspapers and websites across the world followed the story.

The Times of London, for example, reported how the queens went on a shopping spree while the subjects of King Mswati went hungry. The Australian newspaper said the king ignored the Swazi poor and the newspaper reminded readers that Swaziland relied on international aid from the European Union and the United States.

The previous year in August 2008 when a group of the king’s wives went on a similar shopping spree ordinary Swazi women were so outraged that they took to the streets of Swaziland in protest.

King Mswati does not accompany his wives on these trips. However, he is known to spend lavishly on himself and his wives when he does make trips. A typical example was in April 2011 when he went to London to attend the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The cost of the plane alone to take him to the UK cost the Swazi people US$700,000.

The following year he was back in London to attend a lunch to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. He took with him his first wife Inkhosikati LaMbikiza. She wore to the lunch shoes trimmed with jewels that cost £995 (US$1,559). It would take seven-out-of-ten Swazis at least three years to earn the price of the shoes.

The cost of the King’s five-day trip to the UK for the Diamond Jubilee was estimated to be at least US$794,500.

The extravagant spending came just as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) criticised Swaziland for diverting money that should have been used on education and health to other spending.

As a result of this spending the IMF withdrew its team that was advising the government on economic recovery from Swaziland.

The King is regularly criticised in media across the globe for his extravagant lifestyle, but media in Swaziland dare not criticise him. At the time of the visit to the Diamond Jubilee the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, featured a report about LaMbikiza’s shoes, gushing that she had received ‘rave reviews’ from a UK newspaper for her dress sense.

It did not, however, say that the same newspaper reported, ‘Guests from controversial regimes include Swaziland’s King Mswati III, who has been accused of living an obscenely lavish lifestyle while many of his people starve.’

While more than half of the Swazi population rely on some form of food aid to keep them from hunger, King Mswati has 13 palaces in Swaziland; fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars and at least one Rolls Royce.

Earlier in July 2016 it was revealed the King was about to receive a 375-seater private jet at an estimated cost of US$14 million, paid for by the Swazi Government, which the King handpicked.

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