Wednesday, October 18, 2017


TV Mtetwa, the right-hand man to King Mswati III the absolute monarch of Swaziland, and a fierce opponent of progression in the kingdom has died aged 93.

Mtetwa who was known as the ‘traditional prime minister’ had more power than the actual PM. He advocated for girls as young as fifteen to be forced into marriages, thereby supporting paedophilia (sex with children).

He threatened opponents of King Mswati that they would burn, if they did not do as they were told. He relentlessly worked to limit free speech and criticism of the King.

TV Mtetwa – real name Timothy Velabo – was Acting Governor of the Ludzidzini Royal Residence. This meant when he spoke he was considered to be speaking for the King. The power in Swaziland rests with King Mswati and his mother. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King choses the Prime Minister, top ministers and judges. Critics of the King are labelled terrorists by the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Although a constitution was passed in 2005 giving the appearance that Swaziland had many traits of a modern state, in reality tradition and culture takes precedence over laws. Mtetwa was the ultimate authority on traditional law and custom in the kingdom. 

Mtetwa was quick to pint this out in 2012 when he said it was acceptable for girls aged 15 to take part in traditional marriage known as kwendzisa if their parents agreed and the child wanted to. 

Mtetwa said this knowing that in 2012 the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act had been passed in Swaziland which made it illegal to engage in sexual relationships with girls under the age of 18.

The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) said at the time most of these so-called marriages were forced on the girl and sometimes it happened after she had been raped or fallen pregnant.  SWAGAA, in a media statement, said, ‘What is most disturbing is the fact that most of these “marriages” are forced, with the young girls having little or no say in being married to much older men. 

‘The situation is often forced because the family wants to receive payment and if sexual relations have occurred (usually forced upon the girl), the family wants to save face. We have seen tragic stories in the newspaper recently involving these types of marriages, from girls being forced to marry after being raped, to getting pregnant and dropping out of school, to attempting suicide.’

It added, ‘What these young girls are enduring in the name of “traditional marriage” is a human rights violation. Swaziland has signed the Human Rights Declaration and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Children’s Protection and Welfare Act of 2012 received assent from King Mswati III to protect the lives and dignity of all children in Swaziland.

‘Protecting young Swazi girls from traditional marriages that they don’t want is a matter of principle. It is not a complicated legal issue; it is simply a matter of upholding human rights and Swazi law.’

One of Mtetwa’s duties was to travel the length and breadth of Swaziland threatening dire consequences to people who dared to defy the King’s wishes. For example, in 2014 he told the King’s subjects in kaLuhleko they ‘will burn’ if they continued to criticise the King’s appointment of a local chief.

In April 2014, the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported Mtetwa and a delegation from the King visited kaLuhleko where it said ‘Bhekwako Dlamini had been mobilising the people to snub meetings called by the newly appointed Chief Zulwelihle Maseko, ‘who was blessed by Their Majesties last June’.

The newspaper reported, ‘His Majesty roared through Ludzidzini Governor Timothy Velabo Mtetwa commonly known as TV.

‘“It has gotten to the attention of His Majesty the King and the Queen Mother that there is something irregular happening here and that is why we are here today,” he said to deafening silence.

‘“There is a bad habit that has come to the attention of the authorities that there are some people who still choose to defy the chief and do not recognise a man who has been appointed by the King. Where have you ever heard of that? This is the person who has been chosen to take over from Mfanwenkhosi Maseko and I have been sent by His Majesty to order that there be complete silence in this place,” said the tough talking Mtetwa.’

The Observer reported Mthethwa warned that people who did not adhere to the directive issued by the King ‘will burn’.

Mtetwa was against free speech. Many times he pronounced that King Mswati’s word was final – on every topic. For example, in 2015, King Mswati introduced a football tournament that failed to attract enough supporters and made a huge financial loss. 

Controversy surrounded the E9 million (about US$900,000) sponsorship of the Ingwenyama Cup tournament by the government parastatal Sincephetelo Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (SMVAF). SMVAF exists to compensate victims of road accidents.

A range of critics said the amount of sponsorship was too much to spend in a kingdom that was battling with poverty and a drought. Seven in ten of the King’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 a day.

Mtetwa announced that ‘members of parliament, [cabinet] ministers and whoever’ must be silent on the matter.

The Observer on Saturday (21 November 2015) reported Mtetwa said people must stop discussing the topic, ‘because the lion has already roared on the matter’. The newspaper reported Mtetwa, ‘emphasised that it was wrong for people to publicly talk about what the King has already pronounced and set in motion’.

The newspaper added, ‘Mtetwa said since time immemorial it had been a traditional norm that no one speaks after the King had spoken.’

The newspaper said, ‘He warned all critics to guard against being seen to be going against pronouncements made by the King.’

Mtetwa died on Monday (16 October 2017) in a hospital in South Africa after a long illness.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017


A veteran journalist in Swaziland has slammed the organisation of the upcoming municipal elections in the kingdom, suggesting voting will be rigged.
Ackel Zwane, writing his weekly column for the Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III the absolute monarch in Swaziland, pointed to ‘rampant corruption’.

Zwane wrote on Friday (13 October 2017), the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) which runs the election had disregarded the Swazi Constitution that requires it to set up appropriate rules and monitor elections in Swaziland. 

‘Since their commissioning the EBC has done nothing but  recite certain clauses about the voting process instead of creating institutions that will protect citizens from all forms of rigging and make elections truly meaningful and not just a scramble for unearned positions of power.’

Zwane said there was persistent infighting at the EBC and ‘the consequences are devastating’.
The elections are due to take place on 28 October 2017.

On 4 October 2017, the Swazi parliament was told there was confusion about whether the EBC or the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development was running the election.

Zwane said voter registration had been corrupted. ‘The first and most abhorring loophole is the control and monitoring of the voters’ roll. In this case prospective candidates drive scores of nonurban persons to the registration centres and the system cannot detect whether those people indeed come from the various wards. 

‘For instance in Ward 5 in Manzini voters would be coming from Sicewlini, Makholweni, Nkhundleni, Ticantfwini, Mphembekati, Mntfwanenkhosi, Mpholi, Magwaza, Mkhulamini, Mbekelweni and Ludzeludze yet the ward is only to produce a candidate from Murray Camps and Sikhunyana constituencies. 

‘Show me any system to verify in the voters’ roll if all those registered indeed come from the designated wards.’

He added, ‘This tradition also translates into the national election whereby people are taken from wherever to register and vote for particular candidates that offer them goodies at the end, if not outright vote purchasing. 

‘These registered votes are often rewarded with endless rounds of cold beers, roast chicken (chicken dust) and tripe in exchange for the candidate to earn sitting allowances, attend breakfast meetings and officiating in such auspicious events as distribution of new litter collection bins for the duration of the political term.’

On 20 September 2017, the Swazi Observer reported the inspection of the voters’ roll had been extended because of doubts that they were accurate. It was claimed some people had been wrongly registered as voters in some towns and cities.

In October there were complaints that in most cases photographs of voters did not appear on rolls alongside names as expected.

Zwane said voter education was poor and candidates and voters alike did not understand what they were expected to do and corruption was rife. He said many councillors did not live in the areas they represented.

‘We are aware of rampant corruption resulting from lack of policing municipality management systems,’ he added.

‘This culture has resulted in both rent and rates payers being marginalised and their interests neglected as those voted into office have no interest of the urban dweller or of urban life whatsoever. If any watchdog organisation could invest its energies in finding out how much property councillors have on Swazi Nation Land as opposed to urban property the results would be shocking. 

‘Most of the councillors have their homes in Lwandle, Ticantfwini, kashali, kaKhoza, Mpolonjeni, Mvutjini, Mantjolo, Esitibeni, Nkoyoyo  with only titimela for rent in Ngwane Park, Skom or Msunduza, the urban area.’

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Monday, October 16, 2017


King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland, has declared a small teacher-training college will become a university, repeating a promise previously made and broken in 2013. 

He told the Ngwane Teachers’ College graduation ceremony in Shiselweni on Thursday (12 October 2017) it would be declared a university in 2018 to coincide with Swaziland’s 50th anniversary of independence from Great Britain.

The decision appears to have been made on the spur of the moment without consultation with the Ministry of Education and Training.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by the King, reported, ‘His Majesty pointed out that every year he visited the college, the students and staff told him of their wish that the institution be elevated to university status.

‘“Every time we come here we get the same request that the institution be elevated to a university.

‘“I heard you again today when rendering your entertainment stating that the institution is ready for such an elevation.

‘“While one group was performing and touched on this issue I asked Dr Mahlalela how far the process to elevate the institution and he told me it was very advanced and it would be concluded soon hence I declare that in 2018 this institution will no longer be a college but a university,” his Majesty declared.’

He added, ‘In 2018 the country will be celebrating the jubilee hence it is important that the progress made on the ground reflects that we have been independent for 50 years.

‘“Those that are involved in the negotiations and planning process of this must therefore speed track it,” His Majesty said.’

The King and others did not report that a similar promise had been made to Ngwane Teachers’ College in 2013. It was announced it would become a university in 2014.

The Times of Swaziland reported at the time that College’s Principal Amos Mahlalela and University of Swaziland (UNISWA) Vice-Chancellor Professor Cisco Magagula made the announcement at that year’s graduation ceremony.

The college is small and in 2013 Magagula said it had graduated 3,764 since the college was formed. This was in 1983.
This year, 292 students graduated; all with diplomas. At present it has 52 lecturers and only two hold Ph.D doctoral degrees. According to the official website of the Swaziland Government from 1989 to date the college offers a three-year Primary Teachers Diploma (PTD) programme. About 90 percent of the students in the college are sponsored by the government.

This is not the first announcement the King has made regarding the creation of a university. In August 2016, he declared a ‘university of transformation’ serving the whole Southern African Development Community would be established in Swaziland within a year. It did not happen.

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