Pro-Democracy Swazis Rally Despite Arrests
Despite 50 people being arrested yesterday, hundreds of Swazis took part in a demonstration against their country’s absolute monarchy in the city of Manzini Tuesday. The rally is a prelude to tomorrow’s protest set to take place in the capital of Mbabane.
AFP/File/Stephane de Sakutin
“It was a success — we were able to put across our message which is that we want Swaziland to be a multi-party democracy,” said Zakhele Mabuza, spokesman for the banned opposition Peoples United Democratic Movement of Swaziland (Pudemo).
Although optimism was high, there were still some more arrests. Police arrested Pudemo President Mario Masuku today and are holding him at police headquarters in Manzini, Mabuza said, adding that state security officials outnumbered the protesters.
“He was removed from the crowd along with about three others,” Mabuza told Bloomberg News.
According to Amnesty International, the majority of those arrested Monday were released without charge, while the remaining 16 were let go today.
“The arbitrary arrest of these political activists, lawyers, trade unionists and journalists is nothing short of police harassment and intimidation,” Amnesty International’s southern Africa researcher, Mary Rayner, said in a statement.
Many in Swaziland are looking for change in a country where political parties have been banned since 1973, and the majority of the people live in poverty while King Mswati III and his numerous wives and children live in luxury.
“At the core is the demand for multi-party democracy because all the problems that workers and the general public are facing comes from the lack of democracy in the country,” Mabuza said earlier as the protest was underway.
“The people are angry here. They are singing, marching, (chanting) out slogans and showing their demands.”
Sources: Bloomberg, AFP
Norway Vows to Bring Democracy to Swaziland
On Wednesday, Norway pledged to bring democracy to the southern African Kingdom of Swaziland, where King Mswati III is an absolute ruler. Norway compared its fight to that of ending apartheid in South Africa.
Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images/FILE
The vow happened at a Norwegian backed forum in Africa which featured diplomats and pro-democracy Swazis. The forum was also sponsored by the influential Congress of South African Trade Unions.
Norwegian Ambassador Tor Christian Hildan said his government was not alone in noting “with growing concern the difficult situation regarding human rights, freedom of speech” in Swaziland.
King Mswati has been criticized for the lack of political freedom in his tiny kingdom, as well as doing little to fight its severe poverty and high AIDS rate. He lives with his 14 wives and numerous children in luxury.
Swazi pro-democracy activist Skhumbuzo Phakathi urged Norway to continue raising international awareness.
“Talk to your neighbors, talk to your allies, and say, ‘There is a crisis in Swaziland.’”
Swaziland is unimpressed with the forum and Norway’s pledge to bring democracy. According to Swazi media, a top foreign ministry official accused the European country of “poking its nose in the affairs of the country.”
The Norwegian royal family, being apart from politics, has nothing to do with their country’s vow.
Swazi King’s 12th Wife Caught Having Affair
Scandal is rocking the landlocked African Kingdom of Swaziland. The 12th wife of King Mswati III was caught having an affair with the country’s justice minister and the King’s alleged married friend.
Mswati Nothando Dube, 22, and the minister, Ndumiso Mamba, were reportedly discovered by police in what is thought to have been a sting operation at the Royal Villas hotel in a town near Mbabane, the kingdom’s capital.
It is said by political commentators that the affair between the two was well known.
With Mswati away in Taiwan, Nothando has been placed under house arrest at her mother-in-law’s home, while Mamba has been put in jail under the King’s orders.
If found guilty, the former teen beauty contestant could be banished from Swaziland and Mamba could be executed. All for dishonoring the monarch.
Nothando was 16 when she took part in the annual Reed Dance, an event in which thousands of topless virgins from all over Swaziland dance to be chosen as King Mswati’s wife. She was the lucky one that year and became known as Inkhosikati LaDube.
By becoming Mswati’s 12th wife, Miss Dube got the life Swazis could only dream of: luxury beyond means. The majority of the people live in poverty and unemployment is high. For some women, hoping to be one of the King’s wives is the one way to escape that life.
But now Nothando may lose that lifestyle, and it is not known what would become of her son and daughter from the King.
Already, the King’s mother – who shares power with her son and is known as the Indlovukazi or Great She-Elephant – has sent a delegation to Mr Mamba’s village to lay charges of ”trespassing into another man’s home.”
Sources: The Daily Mail, The Age
King of Swaziland Visits Qatar
On Monday, King Mswati III of Swaziland arrived in Qatar to begin his state visit to the Gulf nation. He came with one of his wives, Princess Cinahl Carol Dlamini. The couple were greeted at the airport by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and Sheikha Mozah.
Gulf Times/Maher Attar
The King’s visit is meant to discuss international issues that affect both Swaziland and Qatar, as well as strengthen bilateral ties between them.
“Business opportunities will not just come to Swaziland just because we are Swaziland and we are peaceful. We need to go out and look for business opportunities for our nation, just like every other country is doing,” said SIPA Chairman Musa Dlamini, who is also part of the delegation to the Gulf States, as reported by The Swazi Observer.
On Monday evening, there was a banquet held in the King’s honor.
The next day, King Mswati toured the Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, where he was briefed on the company’s plans and goals for the future, plus its real estate investments outside of Qatar.
After that, the King and his Queen were given a tour of the Museum of Islamic Art.
Tuesday, the couple flew back to southern Africa, where Swaziland is located.
Swazi King Sends Wives on Shopping Spree
Swaziland’s King Mswati III sparked international outrage by sending his favorite wives on a shopping spree while the majority of his people struggle everyday to put food on the table.
The problem this time is that the United Kingdom is being drawn into this, since the country sends the most aid to the southern African kingdom, and it is believed about 4 million pounds is being used to fund the royal shopping to Europe, Middle East and Asia.
“They shout about Zimbabwe, but keep quiet about what is happening in Swaziland, even though they are one of its biggest aid donors. They are wasting British taxpayers’ money on this tyrant,” Lucky Lukhele, of the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), told The Times.
King Mswati is said to be worth about 145 million pounds. His wealth comes from what he inherited from his father, and the national budget for his family. The Times of London claims about 12 million was set aside for King Mswati, his 13 wives and numerous children – that is more than what was given to Swaziland’s education budget.
Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV rate, with over 25 percent of the people suffering from the disease. At the same time, the unemployment rate is said to be about 40 percent. Two-thirds of Swazis live on a dollar a day.
This is not the first time King Mswati has spent money lavishly while his people struggle. In May, he bought several Mercedes-Benz cars. Last year, he allowed his many wives on another shopping spree through the world.
Swazi King Cheered at Zuma Inauguration
King Mswati III of Swaziland received loud cheers and applause during his arrival to Saturday’s inauguration of South Africa’s new president, Jacob Zuma.
The overwhelming support for Africa’s last absolute monarch came when it was rumored he was not welcomed to the ceremony.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions had backed the Swaziland Solidarity Network to ban the King.
On Friday, The Congress released a statement explaining why they did not want Mswati to come.
“The Presidential inauguration will be a celebration of democracy” the Congress said. “The culmination of a long process in which first the rank-and-file of the African National Congress and then the people of South Africa have democratically selected a president and government of their choice.
“King Mswati on the other hand has been elected by nobody. He inherited his position of absolute power and has used it to deny his people any democratic rights…Opposition parties remain banned, trade union rights are curtailed and any opposition demonstrations are ruthlessly suppressed.
“The presence of this despot at the inauguration will be an insult to all the people of Africa. It will give him credibility and democratic credentials which he does not deserve… He should be treated as a pariah.”
The spokesperson for the Swaziland Solidarity Network, Lucky Lukhele, said:
“He has never spent R100million on his personal birthday and another R50million on 20 luxury Mercedes Benz S600 with plasma screens and fridges inside, while his own people go hungry.”
Despite all the efforts, the King did show up and was greeted warmly.
King Mswati is without controversy. He and his 13 wives and many children, live lavishly while the majority of Swazis live in intense poverty. Swaziland’s HIV rate is one of the world’s highest.