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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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Wednesday, 20 July 2016


Lisa Peterson, the US ambassador to Swaziland, has said the kingdom might not receive further food aid from her country because of the Swazi King’s ‘lavish spending’ on holidays.

She was responding to media after it was revealed that at least three of King Mswati III’s wives were on holiday in Orlando, Florida last week – with an entourage of more than 100.

The cost of this holiday was equivalent to the drought relief that the US was currently providing to the drought-stricken country –  E14 million (US$1 million).

News24 in South Africa reported Peterson saying the US had limited funds for drought relief. She said, ‘When we hear of the lavish spending by the Swazi royal family – especially while a third of their citizens need food aid – it becomes difficult to encourage our government to make more emergency aid available. You can’t expect international donors to give more money to the citizens of Swaziland than their own leaders give them.’

South African media have been reporting that the queens, their bodyguards, protocol officials, family and other ‘support staff’ were on the trip that was expected to last eight days.

The City Press newspaper in Johannesburg reported the vacation had irritated diplomats who were motivating for more drought relief aid for the kingdom, which is in the grips of the worst drought in 18 years.

It reported, ‘According to diplomatic sources, meetings were held with the King, where objections to the holiday were raised. 

‘Mswati’s defence was that the vacation had been planned and paid for in advance, and that a cancellation would result in an unnecessary loss of money.’

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 6 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 Monday (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’. 

Swaziland is in the grip of a drought crisis and in February 2016 the Swazi Government declared a national emergency and said the kingdom would need E248 million (US$16 million) before the end of April 2016 for relief. 

Earlier in July 2016, it was revealed that King Mswati was about to receive a 375-seater private jet worth about US$14 million paid for by his Government.

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Tuesday, 19 July 2016


Roland Rudd, one of Swaziland’s best known political activists, has been released from jail after receiving a Royal Pardon.

Rudd was serving seven years for a number of offences, including attempted murder and possession of a firearm.

He was released on the orders of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. In 2015, the King decreed that all prisoners jailed at His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS) would have their sentences reduced.

Rudd was released on Saturday (9July 2016).

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported that Rudd had been charged in 2012 with the attempted murder of soldiers and unlawful possession of a firearm. 

The newspaper reported, ‘He shot at Thokozani Mkwanyana, Bhekinkhosi Sikhondze, Mlondi Xaba and Gugulethu Mngometulu during a road rage incident at KaDake area in the Hhohho region.’

In 2013, the Swazi High Court rejected Rudd’s application that he is right to personal freedom was being violated because he had been jailed but not been brought before a court.

He also said he was continually subjected to ‘cruel and inhuman treatment’.

Monday, 18 July 2016


King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, is one of the main reasons why women in the kingdom remain oppressed, a new report has concluded.
ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa) 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 briefing paper called Women’s Rights in Swaziland, just released, ACTSA said, ‘Swaziland has a deeply patriarchal society, where polygamy and violence against women are normalised, deeply unequal cultural and religious norms, and a male monarch who is unwilling to make any change. All this contributes towards the daily discrimination faced by women.’

Among discriminations against women highlighted by ACTSA were the high levels of girls dropping out of school. ACTSA reported, ‘Cultural gender norms dictate that women and girls provide the bulk of household-related work, including physical and emotional care. As a result, girls are under pressure to drop out from school, especially where there are few adults available to care for children and the elderly, for example, in child-headed households.’

ACTSA also highlighted that women lacked the legal rights to administer their own assets. It reported, ‘Most married women are denied equal status as legal adults: they cannot buy or sell property or land, sign contracts or conduct legal proceedings without the consent of their husbands. Many widows, denied the right to own land, are forced from their homes.’

Women also have few chances to find jobs. Swaziland is ranked 150th out of 188 countries in the world in the Gender Inequality Index, ACTSA reported. ‘Men control household resources and thus women remain dependent. This often results in women seeking alternative avenues for income, including transactional and commercial sex,’ it said.

Some of the statistics on ‘life as a female in Swaziland’ quoted in the report include:

One in three girls experience sexual violence before they reach the age of 18 (Amnesty International, 2010);

31 percent of women are HIV-positive (UNAIDS, 2014);

70 percent of female sex workers are HIV-positive (AVERT, 2015);  

Early and forced marriage is ‘normal’ (Amnesty International, 2010); 

Marital rape is legal (Amnesty International, 2010);

Out of 65 delegates in the House of Assembly, only four are women (6 percent) (Department of Gender and Family Affairs, 2014).

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