NGOs should criticise the basis for the Danish government’s development policies

Danish development policy is increasingly removing itself from its focus on poverty alleviation and capacity building that it adhered to ten years ago, even though the phraseology or choice of words of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Development and Cooperation Ministry has tended to remain somewhat the same.

The ministry still talks of democracy, human rights, and poverty alleviation, although perhaps not as much as ten years ago, but the policies it implements are essentially neoliberal, even though neoliberal development policies have shown themselves to be incompatible with implementing the above-mentioned ideals. If you read the Danish government’s new strategies it becomes clear that “private sector driven economical growth” is seen as the main way of ensuring poverty alleviation and that growth is one of the five main priority areas in Danish development policy. Read more of this post

SWASMO: Helping Swaziland’s most vulnerable women to help themselves

Swaziland is a country of great inequality where a minority is rich whilst two-thirds of the population survives on less than a dollar a day, half of them going hungry. As in most countries in the world, women bear the heaviest burdens of such inequality because, amongst other things, of their lower social and legal status and subsequent lack of access to education and finances. Women are generally heavily discriminated against in Swaziland, both legally and culturally, even though the country’s new constitution promises equal treatment for women and though Swaziland is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). One group of women that is particularly vulnerable, stigmatised and prone to despair and despondency is that of single mothers, including teenage mothers – although the two are often interconnected as one of the main causes of single motherhood is early pregnancies. Read more of this post

What key roles for Swazi women?

On September 28, King Mswati III praised women around the world for “continuing to play key roles in contributing to the socio-economic and political development of our nations”. Whereas this is certainly true, and even though Swaziland have ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2004 and the country’s new constitution promises equal treatment for men and women, the latter face an uphill struggle for equality in Mswati III’s Swaziland.

Men and women still do not have equal status in Swaziland, as Swazi women are legally subordinate to men in e.g. both civil and traditional marriages. And even though the new constitution might have theoretically done away with laws that meant that Swazi women could not get a bank loan or own property without the written consent of their husbands, and thereby promoting them from the status of minors, these laws have not yet been revoked. In practice the Swazi Supreme Court has even reversed a High Court ruling that allowed women to register property in their own name, banks still refuse to give bank loans to women without their husband’s written consent, and customary law forbids women to register property in their own names. Read more of this post

Mario Masuku: Swaziland plunges into socio-economic crisis

The following is from a press statement following a presentation at Burgers’ Park Hotel, Pretoria, 7 October 2010, where PUDEMO President Mario Masuku said he was “humbled” by the contribution of the attendees and promised the “undivided commitment to the liberation of our country”:

Just when most of the countries in the African continent are developing and enjoying good governance, stability and respect for universal human rights, Swaziland is sinking deep into a quagmire of irreversible socio political crisis. A small country with a population of about 1million, governed by King Mswati 111 has risen to fame for all the wrong reasons.

Life expectancy has dropped to 31 years! Over 26.1% of the total population is HIV positive; 30% of all children are orphaned due to living with a critically ill parent; only 6% of the national budget is allocated to health, and a mere 2.4% to social services and 69% of the population live below E7.00 ($1) a day. The king holds all Swazi nation land in trust for Swazi’s living in the rural areas – which means that they have no title to it. Read more of this post

Swazi students to protest over unpaid allowances

Swazi students have not been paid their allowances for some time now, and according to the newly elected Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) President, Maxwell Dlamini, he and his fellow students are beginning to feel the effect of this, some students even going hungry.

At the same time, politicians have been paying themselves exorbitant severance payments. SNUS and Dlamini have therefore given the Swazi regime an ultimatum: pay us what we are due by Friday or face “the wrath of the angry youth of Swaziland” by next week. That SNUS is capable of doing so was seen in February where they, as Dlamini puts it, brought “the whole country to a standstill”.

President of SNUS, Maxwell Dlamini released the following statement yesterday, 6 October 2010:
“If the government does not pay all the outstanding allowances for tertiary students by Friday this week, she will surely face and see the wrath of the angry youth of Swaziland next week. We cannot be massaging and romanticising government as if we are in the bedroom when our brothers and sisters in all tertiary institutions live in inhuman conditions without food and money to take care of them. Read more of this post

The Foundation of the democratic movement in Swaziland

The struggle for democracy and human rights in Swaziland has to be fought on many levels and from many angles and must therefore include an array of different organisations. But if the democratic movement in the country wants to implement real democracy, and not simply democratic structures that are not tied to or founded in the grass roots level of society, then education of the population in democracy and human rights is vitally important. And it is equally important that these concepts are related to the real, everyday situations of ordinary people, and linked to what is happening on a national and global level, so that they can relate the education they receive to their own situation and thus hopefully see their part in the struggle for democracy as vital for the advancement of both their country and themselves. As has been proven time and time again in both Africa and in other parts of the world (including European countries such as Denmark, where democracy for all citizens only took root over 60 years after it was officially announced), democracy cannot be implemented from above but must be nurtured from below. Read more of this post

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