Saturday, September 23, 2017

KING MISLEADS UN ON SWAZI FREEDOM



Only days after it was learnt that people who criticise King Mswati of Swaziland face two years’ jail, the King misled the UN General Assembly saying that ‘all citizens’ have the opportunity to air their views.

King Mswati was speaking at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday (20 September 2017).

The King who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch in a kingdom where political parties are banned from contesting elections and prodemocracy campaigners are prosecuted under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, said, ‘The kingdom of eSwatini [Swaziland] is committed to peace and a decent life for all. We are also firm believers in the principle of consultative decision-making. This involves a transparent and all-inclusive undertaking that grants every citizen an opportunity to voice their views in order to constructively contribute to the social, economic, cultural and political development of the country.’

He did not say that his unelected government had just passed the Public Order Act. This allows for critics of the King or the Swazi Government to be fined E10,0000 (US$770), imprisoned for two years or both for inciting ‘hatred or contempt’ against cultural and traditional heritage. In Swaziland seven out of ten people have incomes less than US$2 a day.

The Act also targets gatherings of 50 or more people in a public place where policy actions or criticisms of any government or organisation are made.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom where reporting the activities of King Mswati and his family is severely restricted, reported, ‘These gatherings could be those which are convened or held to form pressure groups, to hand over petitions to any person or to mobilise or demonstrate support for or opposition to the views, principles, policy, actions or omissions of any person, organisation including any government administration or institution. 

‘The Act states that to avoid any doubt people who also speak ill or incite hatred against the cultural and traditional heritage of the country could be those who are involved in a picket or protest action. 

‘Other acts that carry a similar penalty also include a person who trashes, burns or otherwise destroys, defaces or defiles or damages any national insignia or emblem. The nation insignia or other emblem has been defined by the Act as any weaving, embroidery, sewing, drawing, picture, illustration and painting which represents His Majesty, the Indlovukati [King’s mother], national flag or Swaziland Coat of Arms.’

Swaziland has been criticised by many international groups for its lack of democracy.
The Swazi people 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.

In 2016, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre reported all opposition to the rule of the King Mswati is treated as ‘terrorism’.

In 2015, the United States withdrew trading benefits under the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) because of Swaziland’s poor record on human rights.

International human rights organisations Human Rights Watch in its World Report 2016, said ‘The Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA), the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act of 1938, and other similarly draconian legislation provided sweeping powers to the security services to halt meetings and protests and to curb criticism of the government, even though such rights are protected under Swaziland’s 2005 constitution.’

The STA was ‘regularly used’ by the police to interfere in trade union activities, Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) said in a submission to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in 2015.

Amnesty International has criticised of Swaziland for the ‘continued persecution of peaceful political opponents and critics’ by the King and his authorities. It said the Swazi authorities were using the Acts, ‘to intimidate activists, further entrench political exclusion and to restrict the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly’.

In September 2016 Swaziland’s High Court ruled that sections of the Suppression of Terrorism Act and the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act were unconstitutional. The Government is appealing the ruling.


See also

JAIL FOR DEFACING PICTURE OF KING

OPPOSITION TO KING IS ‘TERRORISM’

SWAZILAND LAST ON POLITICAL FREEDOM

REPORT TELLS UN OF RIGHTS ABUSES

COURT: TERROR ACT UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Friday, September 22, 2017

SWAZI KING’S TORRID LIFE WITH WIVES

Confirmation that King Mswati III, aged 49, is to take a teenager as his latest wife shines the spotlight firmly on the King’s marital history.

His latest choice is Siphelele Mashwama, aged 19, who is the daughter of a Swaziland Cabinet minister, Jabulile Mashwama. In 2013 the King chose an 18-year-old ‘former beauty pageant contestant’ Sindiswa Dlamini as his wife. Both the teenagers are younger than some of the King’s own children.

There is some confusion as to whether King Mswati’s latest bride will be his 14th or 15th. The confusion is excusable since the number of wives the King has is considered a state secret in Swaziland and it is ‘un-Swazi’ to talk openly about the King’s polygamy.

The new bride is reported to be a graduate of Swaziland’s Waterford Kamhlaba World University College. She went with the King this week to the United Nations General Assembly meeting in the United States.

She was introduced at the annual Reed Dance where tens of thousands of women described as ‘virgins’ danced bare-breasted for the King.

King Mswati has been ridiculed outside of Swaziland for his likening of teenage women. Media in South Africa nicknamed Sindiswa Dlamini ‘naughty Sindie’.

The Sunday Sun newspaper in South Africa in 2014 reported she had affairs with two of King Mswati’s sons, Prince Majaha and Prince Bandzile, who were both in their early twenties.
One unnamed source told the newspaper, ‘Sindi has dated both these boys. She’s a party girl used to having fun.’
Another informant told the Sunday Sun, ‘Sindi is no virgin. She drinks and smokes a lot and has tattoos on parts of her body I cannot mention.’
One source told the newspaper, ‘She is only doing it [marrying the King] because she comes from a poor background.’
The media in Swaziland never report about the King without his permission. This means people across the world are better informed than the King’s subjects, the Swazi people. Most media in the kingdom are under direct state control, opposition political parties are banned as ‘terrorist’ organisations and any political dissent is quickly crushed by police and the army.

In 2011, the Independent group of newspapers in South Africa reported that three of the King’s 13 queens had abandoned him since he took the throne in 1986. And more of his wives were trying to break out of the palace.

The Independent reported, ‘A royal source says some of the queens are frustrated as the King has allowed many months to pass without “visiting” them. They accuse him of seeking his pleasures outside the palace instead.’

The Independent added, ‘This comes after revelations about the recent unceremonious departure from the palace of LaDube, the King’s estranged 12th wife, after she had been accused of having a relationship with former minister of justice and constitutional affairs Ndumiso Mamba. To make matters worse, Mamba was the king’s business confidant and friend.

‘After the affair came to the King’s attention, he denied LaDube conjugal rights, according to insiders. They say he was trying to make palace life intolerable for her so that she would leave.

‘She is officially no longer part of the royal family and has been dumped at her maternal grandmother’s home in Hhohho.’

The newspaper reported, ‘LaDube was the third of Mswati’s wives to leave the palace.
She followed LaMagwaza and LaHwala, who both now live in South Africa.

‘LaMagwaza was accused of having a steamy sexual relationship with a South African toy boy. Sources claimed that she was sex starved, as the King would not visit her.’

It added, ‘LaHwala was also neglected by the king who would deny her conjugal rights for six months at a time.’


See also

KING’S WIFE THROWN OUT OF PALACE

NO FOOD OR BEDDING FOR KING’S WIFE

SWAZI KING’S WIFE ‘BEGS FOR RESCUE’

SEX SCANDAL QUEEN SEEN IN PUBLIC

SWAZI QUEEN’S SORRY TALE OF ABUSE

Thursday, September 21, 2017

SWAZI TEXTILE WORKERS EXPLOITED



A trade union drive is underway in Swaziland to recruit workers in the kingdom’s notorious textile industry.

The Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) has visited several factories across the kingdom.

ATUSWA’s Bongani Ndzinisa told local media that workers in the textile industry had been neglected. The Swazi Observer reported (11 September 2017), ‘He disclosed that the union had already conducted an assessment which indicated that the workers were faced with numerous challenges which affected their livelihood.

‘Ndzinisa said they were in the process of encouraging workers to join the union, after which they will be writing to the various factories to demand recognition.’

The textile industry in Swaziland which is mainly owned by Taiwanese interests has a long history of exploitation.

In July 2014 a survey of the Swaziland textile industry undertaken by the Trades Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) revealed workers were subjected to harsh and sometimes abusive conditions, many of the kingdom’s labour laws were routinely violated by employers, and union activists were targeted by employers for punishment. 

More than 90 percent of workers surveyed reported being punished by management for making errors, not meeting quotas or missing shifts. More than 70 percent of survey respondents reported witnessing verbal and physical abuse in their workplace by supervisors.

Commenting on the survey, the American labour federation AFL-CIO said, ‘Some workers reported that supervisors slap or hit workers with impunity. In one example, a worker knocked to the ground by a line manager was suspended during an investigation of the incident while the line manager continued in her job.

‘Women reported instances of sexual harassment, as well. Several workers said they or other contract (temporary) workers were offered a permanent job in exchange for sex.’

Mistreatment of workers in the textile industry in Swaziland has been known for many years and workers have staged strikes and other protests to draw attention to the situation.

In its report on human rights in Swaziland in 2013, the US State Department said wage arrears, particularly in the garment industry, were a problem. It said, ‘workers complained that wages were low and that procedures for getting sick leave approved were cumbersome in some factories. The minimum monthly wage for a skilled employee in the industry - including sewing machinists and quality checkers - was E1,128 (US$113). Minimum wage laws did not apply to the informal sector, where many workers were employed.

‘The garment sector also has a standard 48-hour workweek, but workers alleged that working overtime was compulsory because they had to meet unattainable daily and monthly production quotas.’

A damning report on Swaziland’s textile industry called Footloose Investors, Investing in the Garment Industry in Africa, was published in 2007 by SOMO – Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

It said the Swaziland Government gave companies a large number of incentives such as tax exemptions and duty free importation of raw materials. The Government also allowed companies to take all profits and dividends outside of Swaziland, which in effect meant that there was little or no investment within Swaziland from the companies.

With a change of world trading conditions, Swaziland became less attractive to foreign companies. In order to maintain profits the companies began to lobby the Government for changes in the law. The companies especially wanted laws and regulations regarding labour loosened.

SOMO concluded, ‘It seems that the public spending on building shells and infrastructure aimed at attracting foreign investment in the garment industry has not brought about much economic benefit so far.’

The report stated, ‘Companies have been asking for certain “incentives” in exchange for their continued production in the country, implying that the country owes them something for their presence.

‘One of the companies in Swaziland, for example, Tex Ray, announced its willingness to set up a textile mill but asked in return for less stringent labour laws and laws on the environment, and for the prices of electricity and water to be halved. They also felt that government should subsidise the wages.’

In September 2014 hundreds of workers at Tex Ray were affected by poisonous chemical fumes at the factory in Matsapha. Many needed hospital treatment and the factory was closed for several days. The Swazi Observer newspaper reported allegations from workers that retrenchment was a way for the company to avoid liability. The newspaper reported that other textile factories, including Kartat Investments, Kasumi and Union Industrial Washing, continued to operate.

In May 2015, it was estimated 3,000 people in the textile industry lost their jobs when the United States withdrew trading benefits under the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) because of Swaziland’s poor record on human rights which included workers’ rights.

See also

EXPLOITATION BY TAIWAN TEXTILES
 
MINISTER RAIDS TEXTILE FACTORY
 
SWAZI TEXTILE PAY STRIKE ILLEGAL
 
SWAZI GOVT AIDS TAIWAN EXPLOITATION

SWAZI HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD KILLS AGOA