Thursday, February 23, 2017


Swaziland’s main opposition political party PUDEMO has refuted media reports that it is ready to contest the national elections in 2018.

PUDEMO (the People’s United Democratic Movement) is the best-known opposition group in the kingdom where King Mswati III rules as an absolute monarch. Political parties are not allowed to contest elections and PUDEMO, along with other groups that advocate for democracy in the kingdom, are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom reported on Monday (20 February 2017) that PUDEMO and its youth wing SWAYOCO, ‘have been instructed by their donors to look into changing their strategy for bringing democracy into the country’.

The Times added, ‘After years of denouncing the country’s elections and branding them “not free or fair”, the proscribed entities are considering taking part in the 2018 national elections where Members of Parliament representing the 55 constituencies in the country are chosen by the people.’

PUDEMO responded in a stinging statement and rejected, ‘with the contempt they deserve’ the media reports. It said it had no donors or funders who were forcing it to participate in the elections.

It added, ‘PUDEMO is not afraid of elections, and remains committed to taking part in Swaziland National Elections, that will be conducted under conditions that guarantee a democratic, free, fair, meaningful and transparent process, not the current royal sham.’

The Swazi people have no say in who their leaders are. They are only allowed to select 55 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly, the other 10 are appointed by the King. None of the 30 members of the Swaziland Senate are elected by the people; the King appoints 20 members and the other 10 are appointed by the House of Assembly.

The King choses the Prime Minister and cabinet members. Only a man with the surname Dlamini can, by tradition, be appointed as Prime Minister. The King is a Dlamini.  

He also choses senior civil servants and top judges. 

PUDEMO added, ‘The current Tinkhundla elections has no effect in the political life of the country, as power remains concentrated in royal hands, and all meaningful decisions are made through royal command. PUDEMO has no intention, now or in the future to associate its glorious name and record of struggle with such a royal grand scam to defraud our people of their right to democratically and freely elect a government of their own.’

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Swaziland’s Minister of Labour and Social Security has made a veiled threat to scrap university scholarships in the kingdom if students continue to protest against late payments.

Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula made her comments after management at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) closed the institution after students boycotted classes.

There have been continuing problems at UNISWA – and other tertiary colleges in Swaziland – about late payments of scholarships and allowances. There are also complaints that facilities in universities and colleges are inadequate.

UNISWA closed on Monday (20 February 2017). UNISWA Registrar Dr Salebona Simelane told local media the University Senate had resolved to close down immediately as a precautionary measure following vandalism to property the previous week. 

The Swazi Observer reported on Tuesday he said, ‘they needed to protect university property and the students themselves from each other’. 

Simelane said the university would be closed until further notice.

Last week, police fired warning gunshots as students protested about late payment of their allowances.

The Observer reported Minister Magagula saying the government might have to reconsider issuing scholarships, ‘as they were causing too many problems’. 

Following the closure of UNISWA, Magagula said the incident was an unfortunate one as they had met the SRC where they explained the procedures followed when government pays a client. 

The Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported her saying, ‘We met with these children and we showed them that we had indeed paid their allowances as these things take time. There are processes that take place.’

The Observer added, ‘Magagula said the students were clearly refusing to cooperate with government and the university hence if there are no scholarships maybe there’ll be no closure for these institutions.’

UNISWA is not the only tertiary education institution complaining against late payments. The Southern African Nazarene University (SANU) in Manzini, Swaziland, has also been closed following student protests against poor facilities and insufficient allowances.

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Two police officers in Swaziland have appeared in court charged with demanding money from suspects in return for their freedom.

They appeared at the Manzini Magistrates Court on 14 February 2017 charged with, among other crimes, extorting money from civilians by threatening to arrest them and have their names published in newspapers.

The Times of Swaziland reported, ‘The “suspects” were warned that this would embarrass them and no matter what the outcome of the cases would be, they would already have been publicly shamed.’

The accused police officers are alleged to have taken more than E100,000 (US$7,630) from people who feared arrest. The case continues.