The democratisation of Swaziland: inside or outside job?

swaziland-pudemo-2013-194The small absolute monarchy of Swaziland is best known for its tourism, “unique” culture tied to its monarchy, and the cultural and spending exploits of playboy-king Mswati III, not for its repressive regime and ongoing struggle for democracy.

Swaziland is nominally a middle income country that is seldom condemned by world leaders and rarely mentioned in the international media, even though it is one of the most unequal, poverty-stricken and unfree countries in the world, and even though King Mswati spends millions of dollars on prestige projects and personal jets while his subjects starve. Read more of this post

Swaziland can learn from The Gambia

bheki_blogAfter a coup and 22 years of authoritarian rule, The Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh conceded power in elections on December 1. Swaziland, another of Africa’s small authoritarian nations, can learn from The Gambia that there is strength in unity, says Swazi activist Bheki Dlamini.

Swaziland and The Gambia are two of Africa’s smallest nations, both less than 20.000 km2 and with populations below 2 million. Both got their independence from Great Britain in the sixties, and both are more or less engulfed by, and to a large degree dependent on, a much larger and more powerful neighbour. Read more of this post

Do Swazis want democracy?

bheki_New Afrobarometer-report shows that Africans still cautiously embrace democracy. In the small absolute monarchy of Swaziland, support for democracy is low but rising. In many other countries it is falling.

‘Do Africans still want democracy,’ independent research network Afrobarometer asks Africans in a new report? The answer seems to be a cautious and qualified ‘yes’. In Swaziland, a small absolute monarchy where parties are banned and the king appoints the government and controls everything from the economy to the judiciary, numbers are very low but rising. Read more of this post

The bittersweet taste of Swazi sugar

screenhunter_4167-oct-27-21-36According to a new report from the ITUC about the sugar industry in Swaziland, the country’s absolute monarch uses sugar profits to sweeten his own life, leaving sugar-cane farmers and the majority of the population bitterly impoverished.

Sugar cane production has brought about more human suffering than development in Swaziland. Many people have been evicted and the general conditions in the sugar industry are atrocious. This is the conclusion of a new International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)-report, written by journalist Manqoba Nxumalo and human rights lawyer Sipho Gumedze. Read more of this post

Swazi soccer guru harasses journalists with impunity

mwusSoccer guru Victor Gamedze has allegedly assaulted a journalist and ordered another fired because they wrote unfavourable stories about him and his football team. Such media control and self-censorship is commonplace in Swaziland.

Victor Gamedze, an influential, powerful and politically connected businessman, “controls the Swazi Observer Group of Newspapers,” according to last week’s edition of Swaziland Shopping. Gamedze is also the Acting President of the National Football Association of Swaziland, Premier League of Swaziland Chairman and Mbabane Swallows FC owner. Read more of this post

Swaziland: Antiterrorlov kendt forfatningsstridig

high-courtFredag blev dele af Swazilands antiterrorlov, som Amnesty International kalder ”undertrykkende,” kendt forfatningsstridig i landsretten i Mbabane. En ung demokratiforkæmper, der selv har mærket effekterne af loven, tror dog ikke, at dommen vil ændre meget.

I 2014 blev syv medlemmer af People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) arresteret, og anklaget for terrorisme i henhold til Swazilands antiterrorlov. De havde båret en t-shirt, med PUDEMOs logo i det lille enevældige monarki. Read more of this post

William dared to challenge the king

william-4Not many Swazis dare to criticize Swaziland’s absolute monarch openly, but 82-year-old William Mkhaliphi did, to the monarch’s face, last month. In response to this, he now suddenly faces charges under the Public Order Act and for theft.

There were many complaints about an array of issues, ranging from to small grants for the elderly to cattle roaming the streets, at last month’s Sibaya People’s Parliament in Swaziland. Read more of this post