Swaziland people starve, Rolls-Royces for royals

This 10 November 2019 South African TV video says about itself:

PUDEMO condemns purchase of 19 Rolls-Royce cars for Swazi King

The People’s United Democratic Movement or PUDEMO has strongly condemned the purchase of nineteen Rolls-Royce cars bought by the Swazi king for the exclusive use of himself, his mother and his wives. Each vehicle is worth about R10 million.

This all apparently took place during student protests that have led to the closure of tertiary institutions. The protests are due to failure by the government to pay students expenses for the past two months. Public servants have also taken to the streets demanding better salaries.

Mlungisi Makhanya, president of People’s United Democratic Movement joins us now.

Translated from Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad today, by Eril Kouwenhoven:

His country is starving, but the king is buying brand new Rolls-Royce for all his 15 wives

The African country of Eswatini, which was still called Swaziland until last year, is being torn apart by poverty, but that did not stop King Mswati III from expanding his already impressive car collection with no fewer than 19 Rolls-Royces and 120 BMWs.

According to The Times, the purchase of his majesty benefits the family, which consists of 15 wives and 23 children. The monarch – worth more than $ 200 million – has been under fire for some time because of its lavish lifestyle. He owns a fleet of luxury cars, private aircraft and he even has his own airport.

It was said to be a fleet of trucks loaded with 20 Rolls-Royces and one Rolls-Royce Cullinan. The cars are for the king’s 15 wives and one of them is for his mother. The luxury SUV Cullinan is said to have been fully adapted and will be used by the king himself. It is not yet known whether the cars were ordered directly from the BMW Group, the parent company of Rolls-Royce, or whether they were purchased through an intermediary.

The king is clearly a fan of German vehicles, since he already owns 20 (!) Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullmans, a Maybach 62 and a BMW X6. He also expanded his private fleet by buying another private jet on his 50th birthday last year, for which he paid $ 13.2 million.

In addition to its new Rolls-Royces fleet, Mswati III has reportedly also placed an order for 120 BMWs. Several local sources report that countless blue and white BMW 540 sedans and X3 SUVs were delivered to the country that is surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique.

According to the British newspaper The Guardian,Mswati raised his household budget to 61 million dollars a few years ago – while the majority of his subjects had to make ends meet on less than one dollar a day. Mswati has ruled Swaziland since 1986, succeeding his father, King Sobhuza II, of whom he was the 67th (!) son. His will is literally law: Mswati does not use a constitution.

Swaziland absolute monarchy shoots striking workers

This 26 September 2019 video is called Police firing teargas on striking workers, Eswatini.

From the World Socialist Web Site today:

Police fire on strikers in Eswatini

Civil servants demonstrating in the landlocked kingdom Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) were injured after police opened fire. The NAPSAWU, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers and the Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel members walked out on September 23 to demand a pay increase of 7.85 percent. The government offered three percent, conditional on the strike ending and the economy improving. On September 25, police used rubber bullets against demonstrators in the capital city Mbabane, injuring 15. On October 2, riot police using live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets attacked thousands of demonstrators in the commercial hub Manzini, leaving 17 injured. A labour court began Thursday to hear the government’s arguments that the strike be made illegal on the grounds that it is political. The strike is affecting schools, the revenue collection department, the central transport administration, immigration offices and other government departments.

Swaziland workers fight absolute monarchy

This video says about itself:

Ongoing Protest by TUCOSWA members in eSwatini [Swaziland]

18 September 2018

We all saw one document yesterday that was circulating on social media which was written by the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Dr Sibongile M. Mtshali-Dlamini. The press statement was dated 17th September 2018 which announced schools closing because of the on-going industrial protest.

Read more here.

From daily News Line:

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Hundred thousand Swaziland workers mass action

A HUNDRED THOUSAND Swazi workers have begun a campaign of mass action, led by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), and its affiliates. On Tuesday 18 September, protesters flooded the streets of four towns, and in the march in Manzini alone at least ten were confirmed as having been injured by rubber bullet shots or blows from police batons.

Workers, mainly in the public service, are on strike in protest against the government’s refusal to award them a 6.5 per cent cost of living adjustment. The strike paralysed business and led to schools being closed around eSwatini, as Swaziland is now called. The unions defied an order by acting Prime Minister Vincent Mhlanga to abort the industrial action in order to give a chance to resume stalled negotiations, and TUCOSWA has already announced that the strike and marches will continue.

South Africa’s trade unions in SAFTU (South African Federation of Trade Unions) applaud the courage shown by the workers in Africa’s last absolute monarchy, in which unions are not legally recognised and any opposition from workers or communities is brutally suppressed. The strikes erupted just as King Mswati’s regime was in the middle of holding sham ‘tinkhundla elections’, to give a thin veneer of respectability to his dictatorship while keeping the people oppressed. The second round of these rigged elections were scheduled for yesterday.

Mswati is trying to force the people to participate in these charades. That is why he set his police on unarmed peaceful workers who are exposing these bogus ballots for what they are – a bid to pretend that he is democratically accountable, while retaining his absolute power. In line with its founding principles of international workers’ solidarity, SAFTU pledges its full support for the Swazi workers’ struggle and urges South African unions to be ready to act in solidarity and respond to any appeal from their comrades in eSwatini for solidarity at the borders.

Swaziland electricians on strike

This video is called Without The King: Swaziland.

From the World Socialist Web Site, 30 December 2016:

Swaziland electricians protest lack of bonuses

Workers employed at the Swaziland Electricity Company went on an unofficial strike December 21 protesting the non-payment of a traditional bonus at the end of the year.

Union negotiators who had met with management to discuss the issue were held responsible for the wildcat strike and they were issued with a court injunction.

A return to court after an immediate initial hearing will take place between January 8 and 17 where the eight union respondents will claim there is no proof of a strike, only some workers late for work.

SWAZILAND’S Communist Party have condemned a move by King Mswati III to rename the country as “populist nationalism” designed to detract from growing criticism of the squandering of public funds: here.

Swaziland Communists condemn “sham elections”: here.

Swaziland workers on strike

This 2015 video, recorded in Norway, is called Selby Sibusiso Mtshali, president, Mining Quarrying and Allied Workers Union of Swaziland.

From the World Socialist Web Site:

2 December 2016

Swaziland brick workers in standoff over wages

Workers employed by Langa Bricks in Swaziland are continuing their strike into a third week to demand a pay increase. The workers are demanding a rise of 3 Swazi emalangeni ($0.21) an hour. The company initially offered 0.5 Swazi emalangeni an hour ($0.04), but then withdrew it.

Langa accuse workers of sabotaging a scabbing operation by cutting the electricity supply to the company, saying this is why they have withdrawn their pay offer. The strikers said they would not return to work until an offer is made.

Swaziland absolute monarchy


By Geraldine Donnelly from Scotland:

Swaziland: Home of the forgotten despot

Monday 05 December 2011

If you were asked what you knew about Swaziland, what would be your response? What do you know about this small country of less than a million people located between Mozambique and South Africa?

As the Scottish Trades Union Congress delegate on a recent ACTSA visit to southern Africa, I had little knowledge of Swaziland.

What I saw in this beautiful country shocked and saddened me. Seventeen years after the overthrow of apartheid, another people in southern Africa are suffering under a brutal tyranny, relatively unnoticed by the world.

Swaziland is an absolute monarchy that has been ruled by King Mswati since 1986.

The Forbes Rich List named him in the top 15 of the world’s richest royals, with a personal fortune that is in excess of $100 million, enabling him to provide palaces and new BMWs for his 14 wives.

Three-quarters of the country’s land is effectively owned by the king and administered by the local chiefs. With the government handpicked, the parliament has increased the king’s budget by 60 per cent in the last two years.

According to the US government about “40 per cent of the government’s workforce is allocated to security.”

In stark contrast two-thirds of the people survive on less than $1.25 a day.

Swaziland has the world’s highest HIV rate and half the population dies before 40.

Perhaps the saddest statistic is that one in 12 of all Swazi are orphaned children.

This is compounded by the growing economic crisis. The government is threatening to cut 7,000 jobs, pushing thousands deeper into poverty, while spending increases on the king and his friends.

The bedfellow of this poverty is political tyranny. Swaziland has the unenviable achievement of having a worse record on political rights than Zimbabwe.

Political parties are banned and it has endured a state of emergency since 1973.

Opponents of the regime are often arrested, tortured or even murdered as the main opposition is declared “terrorist” under the repressive Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Swazi NUS president Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngebuni of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) are still behind bars awaiting trial following their arrest before protests held in April.

Women are subjected to horrendous levels of gender-based violence.

A 2009 survey revealed that almost a third of women and girls aged 13 to 24 had experienced sexual violence before their 18th birthday.

The law provides no protection for women from domestic violence or rape by their husbands.

The laws governing marriage ensure that women are treated as second-class citizens. Married women are denied the right to own property and widows are unable to inherit property if they are forced from their homes by their husband’s relatives.

However, the people of Swaziland have continued to struggle for democracy.

The trade unions, despite their leaders being regularly arrested and harassed, have held regular strikes and protests.

Women and students have formed groups to campaign for democracy and rights and an underground pro-democracy party Pudemo was formed in 1983.

Despite constant harassment, including the arrest of one leader, Sipho Jele, who died in custody in May 2010 imprisoned for wearing a protest T-shirt, they have grown in strength.

In 2008 King Mswati held lavish celebrations costing millions of dollars to mark his 40th birthday and 40 years of independence, but the people of Swaziland responded by organising the country’s biggest pro-democracy protests with 10,000 crowding the streets of the Manzini and reassembling in the capital Mbabane the next day.

The pro-democracy movement in Swaziland has called for smart sanctions, including the denial of international travel for the royal family and their lackeys, a ban on investment in companies controlled by the regime and an embargo on military sales to Swaziland.

Until now the devastating situation in Swaziland has largely gone unnoticed by the international community, but gradually more and more voices across the world are beginning to speak out.

Swaziland needs our solidarity now. The voices of the Swazi people’s struggle must be heard as Swaziland is still the land of the forgotten despot.

While there we listened, humbled, as student leaders told us of the daily danger of death or imprisonment, but they left us in no doubt that they will continue to fight until Swaziland is free.

The international labour movement must support them in their continuing struggle for political and economic freedom.

In solidarity we must advance to strengthen the trade union and pro-democracy movements building upon partnerships and projects that have raised the profile and capacity-building of trade unions and civil society in Swaziland to bring about change.

Action for Southern Africa, the successor organisation to the British Anti-Apartheid Movement, is one of the few organisations campaigning for democracy and rights in solidarity with the people of Swaziland. If you want to get involved in supporting the fight for democracy in Swaziland contact ACTSA www.actsa.org.

Swaziland anti-dictatorship activists freed

This 2009 video from Swaziland says about itself:

Free Mario Masuku

The Swazi regime charged President Mario Masuku with “high treason” in Nov 2000. He stood accused for 21 months without conclusion of trial. In Aug 2002 he was freed by the courts and released from prison.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Swaziland: Unions hail freeing of activists for democracy

Thursday 16th July 2015

SWAZI trade unions yesterday welcomed the release on bail of two pro-democracy leaders imprisoned by their country’s royal regime.

People’s United Democratic Movement president Mario Masuku and Swaziland Youth Congress secretary-general Maxwell Dlamini were arrested for speaking at last year’s Trade Union Congress of Swaziland May Day rally.

They were bailed on Tuesday after more than a year in detention, during which they say they were subjected to brutal torture and inhumane conditions.

Mr Masuku had previously been jailed in 2001 for sedition against King Mswati III’s government and in 2008 for allegedly condoning terrorism in a speech at the funeral of Musa Dlamini.

‘Terrorism’, yeah right. In another absolute monarchy, Saudi Arabia, women are considered ‘terrorists’ for driving cars.

Two Swaziland political prisoners freed

This video says about itself:

Human Rights a problem in Swaziland: Amnesty International

4 September 2014

Rights groups are calling on Swazi authorities to stop using the criminal justice system as a tool of repression. This comes after the jail terms recently handed down to newspaper editor Bhekithemba Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Swaziland: Democrats hail two prisoners’ release

Friday 3rd July 2015

PRO-DEMOCRACY campaigners have welcomed the release of two prominent political prisoners by Swaziland’s royalist regime this week.

Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and Nation newspaper editor Bheki Makhubu were released on Tuesday after almost a year in prison.

The two had been locked up since July 2014 as part of a crackdown on freedom of expression and the press by the government of King Mswati III.

They were convicted of contempt of court for publishing articles criticising threats to judicial independence.

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) hailed their release as “an important outcome of intense campaigning by organisations worldwide, governments and trade unions.”

While the government claimed that courts were there to “prosecute, not persecute,” the CPS pointed to the sacking of senior judges Michael Ramodibedi, whom the prisoners criticised, and Mpendulo Simelane, who sentenced them.

Free Swaziland political prisoner

This video says about itself:

Mario Masuku criticizes the Swazi Constitution

30 July 2009

With assistance from Pretoria, on April 12, 1973 Sobhuza II infamously declared: the Constitution of Independence had failed; it was the cause of growing unrest; it had permitted undesirable political practices; and there was no constitutional way to amend the Constitution. A State-of Emergency was declared and Sobhuza II assumed supreme power (Kuper 1978). Parliament was suspended for five years and when it reopened the royalists’ tinkhundla system began to be enforced. The Constitution which was suspended in 1973 was eventually replaced thirty-three years later.

In the brief video clip below, PUDEMO President lists the shortcomings of the so-called “new” Constitution. Masuku has been an outspoken critic of the Swazi regime for years and they think he can be silenced by prison. VIVA Mario VIVA!

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

SWAZILAND: President of the Danish parliament Mogens Lykketoft called on Denmark and the European Union to do everything to secure the release of socialist leader Mario Masuku and student activist Maxwell Dlamini.

Pudemo party president Mr Masuku was charged with terrorism offences for shouting “Viva Pudemo” and criticising the absolute monarchy in a May Day speech last year.

Jailed Swaziland journalists nominated for award

This video, recorded in the USA, says about itself:

Thalani Maseko, an attorney from Swaziland, will discuss the use of his country’s Suppression of Terrorism Act to stifle political protest against the rule of King Mswati III, and his efforts to defend those who have fallen foul of that law. – June 8th 2011.

From Swazi Media Commentary (Gaborone, Botswana):

29 September 2014

Swaziland: Jailed Journalists Up for Award

More than 50 trade unions and civil society organisations from across the world have joined to nominate two jailed Swaziland journalists for a human rights award.

Bheki Makhubu, editor of The Nation magazine, and Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer and writer, are serving two-year jail sentences after writing and publishing articles critical of the Swazi judiciary.

They have been nominated for the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Award which honours exceptional individuals who peacefully promote and protect universally recognised rights.

A statement announcing the nomination said. ‘Thulani is a human rights lawyer and a pro-democracy activist who repeatedly defended political activists and trade unions in and outside the courts. He represented Mario Masuku, president of the banned opposition party, the People’s United Democratic Movement, and Sipho Jele on their pro-democracy struggles, which the state had termed treasonable.

‘Recently, he challenged the constitutionality of the de-registration of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland at the High Court.

‘Bheki is the editor of The Nation magazine, a monthly periodical that is one of the few independent voices in the country calling for government accountability and democratic change.’ Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The statement continued, ‘Thulani and Bheki were arrested and detained on 17 March 2014 and 18 March 2014 respectively for writing articles about the circumstances surrounding the arrest of government vehicle inspector, Bhantshana Gwebu, and the lack of integrity, impartiality and independence of the Swaziland judiciary. After a trial with numerous flaws and irregularities demonstrating a bias against them, both of them were convicted of contempt of court on 17 July 2014. However, instead of the ordinary 30-day sentence, they were sentenced to two years imprisonment on 25 July 2014, underscoring the political (and jaundiced) nature of their trial and sentence.’

The winners of the 2014 Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Award will be selected by an independent jury and announced at the occasion of the ordinary session of the Africa Commission on Human and People’s Rights in Niamey in October 2014.

Among those organisations making the nomination are: Action for Southern Africa; African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation; Afrika Kontakt Denmark; American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations; Botswana Federation of Trade Unions; Canadian Labour Congress; Central Organisation of Trade Unions Kenya; Congress of South African Trade Unions; Danish Confederation of Trade Unions; Federation Of Somali Trade Unions; International Trade Union Confederation; International Transport Workers’ Federation; Nigeria Labour Congress; Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions; Sierra Leone Labour Congress; Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations; Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders; Swaziland Lawyers for Human Rights; Trades Union Congress (GB); UNI Global Union Africa; Unifor Canada; Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.