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Saturday, 29 August 2015

‘CANCEL REED DANCE AFTER DEATHS’



A rights organisation in Swaziland has called on King Mswati III to cancel the Reed Dance due to take place on Sunday (30 August 2015) and Monday out of respect for the dozens of girls and young women who were reportedly killed in a truck accident on the way to the celebration.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SNN), which is banned in the kingdom where King Mswati rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, made the call in a statement after it was reported at least 38 people were killed in a crash along the Mbabane to Manzini highway.

The girls and young women were among 90,000 ‘maidens’ who were travelling to take part in the annual Reed Dance at which women and girls described as ‘virgins’ dance half-naked in front of the King.

The SSN said 38 people had been killed and 20 seriously injured in the accident on Friday. The dead and injured had reportedly been travelling on the open back of a truck.

In a statement the SSN said, ‘The least that the Royal Family can do at this moment is to cancel this year’s Reed Dance and admit its responsibility in this horrific accident by helping these families bury their children.’

The SSN said ‘inside sources’ had reported that media in Swaziland which is heavily censored had been ‘barred from reporting extensively on this accident’.

It said, ‘What saddens our network is the fact that the loss of life was avoidable. To begin with, carrying people in trucks is against traffic laws. Moreover, the drivers of these trucks clearly did not have any concern for the human lives they were carrying: They were clearly negligent. 

‘This is not the first incident where young girls have been injured on royal assignments; our network once reported how a truck accident was concealed by the Royal Family by falsely claiming that unknown people had thrown rocks at a truck full of young girls. 

‘We hope that the families of the deceased girls will hold the Royal Family accountable for the deaths of their children.’

International media reported on Saturday (29 August 2015) that 38 people had died but social media in Swaziland was awash with speculation that the figure might be much higher. There was a general feeling that the regime of King Mswati could not be trusted to tell the truth on the number of deaths as this would reflect badly on the King.

Late on Saturday, Eyewitness News in South Africa reported the death toll had risen to 65.

See also

SWAZI REED DANCE: ILLEGAL WHIPPINGS

Thursday, 27 August 2015

KING GETS NEW JET AS PEOPLE STARVE

While Parliament in Swaziland has agreed to purchase a larger private jet for the kingdom’s autocratic ruler King Mswati III that might cost US$30 million, news is circulating in the kingdom that the government is unable to distribute food aid to the starving rural population because it cannot afford to run trucks.
 
Maize crops have failed this year because of a drought that has hit southern Africa. Figures released in July 2015 suggest that as many as a quarter of the Kingdom’s 1.3 million population are now malnourished.

This week some members of the Swazi House of Assembly threatened to stop attending parliamentary sessions until the government acted and delivered food to hungry people in Swaziland’s rural areas.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom where media censorship is heavy, reported on Tuesday (25 August 2015) that Nhlambeni MP Frans Dlamini told parliament that, ‘as legislators, they no longer had any ideas on how to rescue the hungry people and wondered why government had stopped the food distributions. 

‘“What happened to the food aid and what should we do so that government sees it fit to conduct food distributions? I do not know if we should leave Parliament and only return once the food has been distributed,” the Times reported Dlamini saying.

The Times reported MPs were told that trucks to ferry food were not available.

A few days earlier the Swazi Parliament agreed to purchase a jet for King Mswati. His present jet, a MacDonnell Douglas DC-9 jet (also known as MD87), which cost about US$17 million in 2012 is considered to be too small for the monarch to use.

The new jet, which will be purchased on a lease-to-buy contract, might eventually cost as much as US$30 million.
 
In Swaziland, political parties are banned from contesting elections and King Mswati, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, appoints the government. The King leads a lavish lifestyle with at least 14 wives, 13 palaces, a private jet and fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars.

Last week it was reported in a newspaper in Botswana, that Prince Majaha, King Mswati’s 23-year-old son, had a watch stolen that was worth US$40,000, the equivalent of 55 years of income for seven in ten of the King’s subjects, who earn less than US$2 per day.

King Mswati’s government has a poor record in helping hungry Swazi people.

In May 2013, international media reported that starving people in Swaziland were being denied food by the government because it was punishing the kingdom’s members of parliament for passing a vote of no confidence against it.

Food intended to feed destitute families, especially those headed by single women with children, had been deliberately left to rot in government warehouses, they said. One Swazi newspaper said, ‘[T]here could be a deliberate ploy at cabinet to systematically starve the people.’

The international news agency IRIN reported the problem was being blamed on ‘bad blood’ between members of parliament (MPs) and members of King Mswati III’s cabinet. This was after the House of Assembly passed a no-confidence vote in October 2012 against Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, who is both a relative and appointee of the king. The no-confidence vote was later reversed.

The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, in an editorial comment said, ‘[T]here could be a deliberate ploy at cabinet to systematically starve the people’.  

IRIN reported, ‘Although the country has institutions resembling those in democracies, Swaziland's parliamentarians do not enact legislation; rather, they approve policies of the king’s appointed cabinet.

‘But MPs are still responsible to their constituents - voter registration began a few days ago for this year’s scheduled elections, although a poll date has yet to be announced. Political parties remain banned.

‘Some observers believe the disruption of food supplies was meant as a lesson for the MPs.

‘Aaron Simelane, a Swaziland-based political commentator, told IRIN, “MPs are considered community development agents by the people who vote ... Swazis want their MPs to bring roads, jobs and aid to their communities, but MPs have no power to do any of these things. [The] cabinet has this power.

‘“The people do not know this, and when things aren’t done they blame MPs, who promise to deliver this and that to get elected. By withholding food aid, [the] cabinet is teaching MPs a lesson about power.”’

Local media in Swaziland reported that ‘hundreds of 50kg bags of beans, mealie-meal and boxes of cooking oil’ had been left to rot at the government central warehouse in Matsapha.  

IRIN said the spoiled food included, ‘15,000kg of the staple maize meal, 25,000kg of beans and 600 cartons of vegetable oil.’

The Swazi Observer in an editorial comment stated, ‘[T]ons of donated staples like maize, beans and cooking oil were deliberately being allowed to rot at a government granary in Matsapha, while starving people had to contend with the pangs of hunger out there. 

‘We may be forced to agree with the honourables [members of parliament], who are now claiming there could be a deliberate ploy at cabinet to systematically starve the people and obliterate them from the face of their army worm-ravaged areas.’

The Observer went on to say, ‘Or much sinister still, it is to alienate the present crop of MPs from their constituents, so they cannot be voted back to parliament, if that was to happen.

‘Are the hungry people being used to hit back at the MPs for their still-born vote of no confidence last year? When things happen in this manner, one starts to believe even the most far-fetched theories, which is why government should avoid such embarrassing situations at all costs.’

SWAZI REED DANCE: ILLEGAL WHIPPINGS

Police in Swaziland have warned ‘random’ men not to loiter near camps housing tens of thousands of supposed virgins during the forthcoming Reed Dance or Umhlanga ceremony.

In the past men found in such situations have been illegally whipped.

About 90,000 young women and girls have reportedly registered to take part in the ceremony which concludes on Monday (31 August 2015) when they will dance half-naked in front of King Mswati III, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

The women and girls are reportedly virgins and form a regiment known as Imbali.

The warning came from Police Information and Communications Officer Assistant Superintendent Khulani Mamba. The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, that has been extensively covering the Reed Dance, reported Mamba saying, ‘The police will be there at the national event from the beginning to the end to ensure safety of the public and of the maiden. We would like to advise the public on a number of things such as appealing them to drive with caution on the roads as the Imbali will be marching.

‘The maidens are also expected to be well-behaved while camped for the event so random men are also warned against being found loitering next to the camps where they will be sleeping, as tindvuna [overseers] have also warned.’

The police officer and media did not report what the consequences would be for men found loitering. There is huge secrecy surrounding events such as the Reed Dance, since they are the mainstays of Swazi ‘traditional’ culture.

However, in 2007 the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, broke the secrecy when it reported on the mass whipping of young men during the Reed Dance.

The Times reported on 5 September 2007 that the traditional authorities who were given the responsibility of supervising the ‘maidens’ systematically detained and whipped young men who were caught at night trying to get close to the young women.

In a report starkly headlined, ‘27 men whipped at Reed Dance’, the Times reported that the men were caught, whipped, and temporarily detained after invading the camp where the maidens were staying.

The whipping was not an isolated incident and the Times reported that some men were whipped on Saturday and others on Sunday. It seemed that the detention and whipping of unwelcome visitors was an agreed method of discipline among those tasked with supervising the maidens.

The Times report quoted Muzi Dlamini, one of the men responsible for supervising the maidens, saying that the men were taken to a small tent. ‘They were beaten with sjamboks and sticks. We were disciplining them and I must say they deserved such a punishment.’

He spoke about two separate occasions when men were detained and beaten. ‘After we had detained these boys, there were no more visits from strangers. Indeed it worked for us,’ he said.


The whippings highlighted an issue with Swazi culture. In traditional custom in Swaziland, the punishers may have been entitled to act in the way that they did, but in Swazi law they were not. There was at least a case for Dlamini and the others who helped him beat the boys to face prosecution for assault.

The whipping of the boys and men was not an isolated incident of violence at that year’s Reed Dance. On 4 September 2007 the Times reported that one of the senior overseers of the maidens, Ntfonjeni Dlamini, assaulted a group of maidens with a stick. He hurt two of them so badly, the Times reports, that they had to go to Lobamba Clinic, where one of them was treated for injuries to her right leg and bruises all over her body. The other was reported to have bruises all over her body and was bleeding on her back.

Four other ‘maidens’ were also thrashed, but were not as badly injured. 


The Times followed up the story the following day (5 September 2007) reporting that the two women had reported Ntfonjeni Dlamini to the police. The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse also commented about the wrongfulness of beating children.

In an editorial comment, the Times said, ‘Ntfonjeni Dlamini … seems to believe he holds the right to beat up anybody’s child for no apparent reason.’ It called on ‘traditional authorities’ to take strong action against the blemishing of the Reed Dance, which it described as a ‘colourful event’ and an opportunity for Swaziland to make a bit of money from tourists.

As well as the two stories already mentioned the Times also gave an account (5 September 2007) of eight stabbings in isolated incidents at the Reed Dance. The newspaper reported that those stabbed were involved in brawls over ‘girls’.


In September 2014, the Times reported that more than 30 maidens were given a ‘serious hiding’ for ‘delinquent acts’ during the Shiselweni Reed Dance ceremony, a localised version of the main Reed Dance, held at the Mbangweni Royal Residence.

Most of the girls, who were caned by their headmen, were beaten for not participating in the main event, while they left their respective homes under the pretext that they were going to the Reed Dance ceremony. 

The Times reported, ‘It was discovered that while the girls were being punished by the headmen, some got seriously injured as they tried to run away. Most of them were treated by paramedics, who attended to their case overnight (Saturday).

One girl reportedly had spent a night with a ‘male companion.’

See also

SWAZI REED DANCE: TRUTH FROM ABROAD
http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2015/08/swazi-reed-dance-truth-from-abroad.html

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

SWAZI REED DANCE: TRUTH FROM ABROAD

The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, is very excited that the US cable news network CNN might be covering the Umhlanga or Reed Dance on Monday (31 August 2015).

The newspaper, described by the Media Institute of Southern Africa Swaziland chapter as a  ‘pure propaganda machine for the royal family,’ reported on Wednesday (26 August 2015) that a ‘well-placed source’ that it did not name, said, ‘The Reed Dance is regarded a huge event internationally, so it is no surprise that international media like CNN is interested. 

‘This will also be a good thing for Swaziland as it is accessible in many countries world-wide, all eyes will be on the reed dance.’

The Observer then went on to report that CNN ‘can be accessed by over 900 million people in the United States alone,’ a statement that is clearly false since the entire population of the United States is only 325,527,595. Indeed, in 2014, the number of viewers of CNN in the US during ‘prime time’ each day was only 515,000 on average.

It is not yet clear if CNN will be at the Reed Dance.

The purpose of the Swazi Observer article was to try to talk up King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Each year he holds the Reed Dance in which young women and girls who are supposedly ‘virgins’ dance bare-breasted in front of the King. Media reports in Swaziland suggest that about 90,000 ‘maidens’ have registered to take part in this year’s event.

Journalists at the Swazi Observer seem not to have noticed that international media cover the event each year. Unlike their counterparts in Swaziland who work under extreme conditions of censorship when reporting about the King, they tend to report the Reed Dance in context.

That means should CNN and other international news organisations attend the Reed dance we can expect them to report that King Mswati witnessed bare-breasted maids in their tens of thousands dance before him. They will also report (unlike their Swazi colleagues) that the King has at least 15 wives and some are younger than his own children. They will report that the King lives a lavish lifestyle, with palaces, a private jet aircraft, fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars and he likes to travel in luxury abroad.

They will report that in Swaziland political parties are banned from taking part in elections and that the King choses the government. They will also remind their audiences of the human rights abuses that regularly take place in Swaziland, including the jailing of journalists and trade union leaders.

They will also report that seven in ten of his 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, with incomes of less than US$2 per day; that Swaziland has the highest level of HIV infection in the world and that many people in the kingdom will this year starve unless they receive food aid donated by people who live in multi-party democracies.

We can be assured that they will report in this fashion, because that is how the uncensored international media always report when they visit Swaziland.

The journalists at the Swazi Observer might regret it very much if CNN does turn up.

DOUBTS OVER SWAZILAND’S US$3bn PORT

Serious doubts have been raised about a plan to build a seaport in Swaziland, which has no coastline.

The Swazi Government earlier this month (August 2015) announced its support for a canal and port to be built linking Mlawula in Swaziland with the Mozambique coast. The port is planned for 15 to 20 hectares of land. The government also said a 26-kilometre-long canal would be built. The entire project is expected to cost at least US$3 billion.

Now, the Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique has reported that the plans are badly thought through. 

It reported on Tuesday (25 August 2015), ‘First, no point on the coast is a mere 26 kilometres from Mlawula. As the crow flies, the nearest point on the Mozambican coast is over 70 kilometres from the site of the proposed port.

‘Furthermore, as anyone who has driven from Maputo to Swaziland can testify, the land rises steeply. Canals are fine for transporting goods over flat terrain - but if there are hills in the way, locks must be built, dramatically increasing the costs. Building a canal with a system of locks capable of holding ocean-going vessels would be a massive engineering undertaking.

‘Such an operation is also entirely unnecessary.

‘Swaziland's main trading partner is South Africa. Over 90 percent of Swaziland's imports come from South Africa, and about 70 percent of its exports go to South Africa. So for the great bulk of Swazi trade a canal through Mozambique is simply irrelevant, as a glimpse at a map should show Moses Motsa and the Swazi government.

‘The rest of Swaziland's trade, for example with Europe or the United States, can be easily handled by the port of Maputo. There are already reasonable rail and road links between Swaziland and Maputo.

‘Upgrading these would certainly be much cheaper than building an inland port.’

It added that the Mozambican Government has not yet commented on the Swazi plan and do not seem to have been consulted on the possibility of a canal going through its territory.

The new information casts serious doubts on the Swazi Government’s ability to comprehend the complexity of the project.

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom where most news media are censored, had reported the plan was confirmed by Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Gideon Dlamini. 

The Times reported him saying, ‘At government level, we are fully behind the project and we are giving it undivided support. The project owners had done presentations to Cabinet and we interrogated it and found that it is a wonderful one. Following Cabinet’s realisation that the project is good and viable, Prime Minister [Barnabas] Sibusiso Dlamini then tasked the different concerned ministries to start working together with the project owners straight away.’

See also

SWAZILAND ‘TO BUILD US$3bn SHIPPING PORT

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

TOP MAN AT JUSTICE LOSES HIS JOB

The Principal Secretary in Swaziland’s Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Thembinkhosi Mamba, has lost his job after being charged with corruption.

Mamba was due to sign a new two-year contract. Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini said on Monday (24 August 2015) the contract would not now be renewed.

Mamba was charged after he was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) along with two women, Zanele Dlamini, a businesswoman and the ministry’s Senior Accountant Tivelele Shongwe. They are alleged to have acted corruptly in violating the Procurement Act.

The charges relate to the awarding of a tender valued at more than E1 million (US$100,000) to a company allegedly directed by Zanele Dlamini. 

See also

ANTI-CORRUPTION DEPUTY CHARGED
EX-JUSTICE MINISTER ARRESTED AGAIN

Monday, 24 August 2015

SWAZI PRINCE AND THE US$40,000 WATCH

News that a Swazi Prince was robbed in a hotel room has exposed something of the lifestyle of King Mswati III’s family.
 
Prince Majaha, aged 23, was with his father in Gaborone, Botswana, when he went on a drinking spree.

The Voice newspaper in Botswana reported he took a woman, which the newspaper describes as ‘a street vendor’, and a man to his hotel room to continue drinking. When he woke up next morning, the newspaper reported, they had stolen US$5,000 in cash and items, including an iPhone 5 valued at US$500 and a Rodger Dubuis watch, worth US$40,000.

If the valuations reported by the Voice are correct, the watch on its own is worth the equivalent of nearly 55 years income for more than seven in ten of his father’s subjects, who earn less than US$2 per day.

The newspaper did not report why the prince was carrying US$5,000 in cash; the dollar is not the currency of Botswana.

King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are not allowed to contest elections and freedoms of association and speech are severely curtailed in the kingdom.

In July 2015, it was reported that the budget for King Mswati and his family had been increased by 25 percent and now made up five percent of the overall national budget for Swaziland.

Prince Majaha once made international news when it was reported that King Mswati, aged 45, was to marry a 19-year-old, one-time beauty pageant contestant Sindiswa Dlamini. It was reported that the bride had once dated the King’s son, Prince Majaha. 

See also

SWAZI KING’S BUDGET RISES BY 25 PERCENT

ANTI-CORRUPTION DEPUTY CHARGED

One of Swaziland’s top anti-corruption officers has been charged with corruption.

Anti-Corruption Commission Deputy Commissioner Lillian Xolile Zwane faces four charges. She has been released on bail.

According to a report in the Swazi Observer on Monday (24 August 2015) the charges are as follows:

Count 1 

The Accused is guilty of contravening Section 16 (a) read with (b) of the prevention of Corruption Act No. 3 of 2006. In that upon or during the period between the month of March 2012 to April 2012 at or near Mbabane in the Hhohho region, the said accused acting individually and or jointly in the furtherance of a common purpose with others did unlawfully obstruct officers from Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) in the execution of their duties of pursuing an investigation against the accused thus did hereby contravene the provision of the said Act. 

Count 2

The accused is guilty of contravening Section 42(1) (a) read with subsection (2) (a) (i), (b) (i)   and (iii),(c)  as read together with Section 35 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act no3 of 2006.

In that upon or during the period  between the months of March 2012 to April 2012 and at or near Mbabane in the Hhohho region, the said accused did unlawfully demand or accept  and or agree or offer to accept an advantage of having an investigation against her for corruption  allegation stopped, for her benefits and through her illegal and dishonest manner amounting to abuse4 of her position of authority  and violation of her legal duties or set of rules in a design to achieve an unjustified result  of having an investigation against her stopped and thus did hereby contravene the provision of the said Act.

Count 3

The accused is guilty of contravening Section 24 (2) as read together with section 35 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act no 2 of 2006. 

In that upon or during the period of March 2012 to April 2012 and or near Mbabane, Hhohho region, the said accused being a public official did unlawfully divert money amounting to E55 193.25 belonging to the Anti Corruption Commission (a government agency)  which money the said accused controlled by virtue of her position as the Deputy Commissioner, to various local print media for purposes unrelated  to the purpose  for which that money was intended for, in causing to be published a press statement on a matter personal to her and designed to serve interest of the accused , for her benefit and thus did thereby contravene the provision of the said Act. 

Count 4

The accused is guilty of crime of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.  In that the said accused did unlawfully and with the intent to defeat or obstruct the course justice in that whereas: On or about July 2011 and at Mbabane in the Hhohho district , the then Anti Corruption Commission Commissioner Justice H.M. Mtenga, SC having dully appointed a panel of investigators to undertake  an investigation on allegation of corruption against the accused; And whereas the accused or about March 2012 and or near Mbabane in the Hhohho district caused to be stopped the said investigation and announced that she had been cleared of the allegation which were a subject matter of the investigation. Whereas this information was to the accused knowledge illegal and false and that she had not been cleared from all investigation and the investigation was unlawfully stopped. In the premises the said accused defeat or obstruct or attempt to defeat the course of justice.

EX-JUSTICE MINISTER ARRESTED AGAIN

Swaziland’s former Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Sibusiso Shongwe has been arrested on charges of corruption and extortion.

Shongwe who was sacked from his job in April 2015after being arrested on corruption charges is alleged to have committed the offences while still a Cabinet minister.

He was charged with Sandlane Zwane, a businessman. Shongwe is charged on six counts including extortion, corruption and obstruction of justice.

The two appeared before Mbabane Principal Magistrate Nondumiso Simelane on 19 August 2015. Later, they were allowed bail at E50,000 (US$5,000) each.

Shongwe is currently also on bail on separate charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act, including defeating or obstructing the course of justice, fraud and theft. 

According to a report in the Swazi Observer newspaper the charges are as follows

Count 1(Accused 1 and 2)

The accused are guilty of contravening Section 42 (1) (a) read with subsections (2) (a) (i), (b)(i) and (iii), (c) and (d) as read together with Section 35 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act No. 3 of 2006. 

In that upon or during the period between the months of October 2014 to March 2015 and at near Mbabane in the Hhohho Region, the said accused acting individually and/or jointly and in furtherance of a common purpose did unlawfully demand and/or accept money amounting to E62 000 (US$6,200) from Jose Emidio Rodrigues for their benefit and through their illegal and dishonest manner amounting to the abuse of their respective positions of authority and violation of their legal duties or set of rules in a design to achieve an unjustified result and amounting to an improper inducement of the said Rodrigues to give them the said amount of money and thus did thereby contravene the provisions of the said Act.

Count 2(Accused 1 and 2)   

The accused are guilty of contravening Section 42 (1) (a) read with subsections (2) (a) (i), (b)(i) and (iii), (c) and (d) as read together with Section 35 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act No. 3 of 2006.

In that upon or during the period between the months of October 2014 to March 2015 and at near Mbabane in the Hhohho Region, the said accused acting individually and/or jointly and in furtherance of a common purpose did unlawfully demand and/or accept money amounting to E600 000 from Jose Emidio Rodrigues for their benefit and through their illegal and dishonest manner amounting to the abuse of their respective positions of authority and violation of their legal duties or set of rules in a design to achieve an unjustified result and amounting to an improper inducement of the said Rodrigues to give them the said amount of money and thus did thereby contravene the provisions of the said Act.

Count 3 (Accused 1 Only: Shongwe)

The accused are guilty of contravening Section 30 (1) (a) and (b) read with subsections (c) (i), (d)(i) and (iii), (e) and (f) as read together with Section 35 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act No. 3 of 2006.

In that upon or during the period between the months of October 2014 to March 2015 and at near Mbabane in the Hhohho Region, the said accused being a politician did unlawfully demand and/or accept or agree and/or offer to accept money amounting to E60 000 from Jose Emidio Rodrigues for his benefit in order to assist the said Emidio Rodrigues with his criminal case and through his illegal and dishonest manner amounting to the abuse of his position of authority and violation of legal duties or set of rules in a design to achieve an unjustified result and amounting to an improper inducement of the said Rodrigues to give him the said amount of money and thus did thereby contravene the provisions of the said Act.

Count 4 (Accused 1 Only: Shongwe)

The accused are guilty of contravening Section 30 (1) (a) and (b) read with subsections (c) (i), (d)(i) and (iii), (e) and (f) as read together with Section 35 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act No. 3 of 2006.

In that upon or during the period between the months of October 2014 to March 2015 and at near Mbabane in the Hhohho Region, the said accused being a politician did unlawfully demand and/or accept or agree and/or offer to accept money amounting to E60 000 from Jose Emidio Rodrigues for his benefit in order to assist the said Emidio Rodrigues with his criminal case and through his illegal and dishonest manner amounting to the abuse of his position of authority and violation of legal duties or set of rules in a design to achieve an unjustified result and amounting to an improper inducement of the said Rodrigues to give him the said amount of money and thus did thereby contravene the provisions of the said Act.

Count 5 (Accused 1 and 2)

The accused are guilty of crime of Extortion. 

In that upon or during the period between the months of October 2014 to March 2015 and at or near Mbabane in the Hhohho region, the said Accused 1, who was at all material times the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs for the Kingdom of Swaziland acting individually and/or jointly and in furtherance of a common purpose with Accused 2 did unlawfully and intentionally inspire fear in the mind of Jose Emidio Rodrigues who was and still is an accused person in a pending criminal trial by threatening and informing him that a judgment to find him guilty and a custodial sentence was already in place, unless the said Jose Emidio Rodrigues paid the said accused Money amounting to E600 000 thereby unlawfully and intentionally extorted E62 000 and obtained from the said Jose Rodrigues.

Count 6 (Accused 1only: Shongwe)

The accused is guilty of crime of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of Justice.

In that whereas one Jose Emidio Rodrigues is an accused and Fraud in High Court Case No.242/2013 which is pending and to the knowledge of the accused, the said Jose Emidio Rodrigues was so charged, the said accused did on or around the months of November 2014-January 2015 and at Mbabane, Unlawfully and with the intent to defeat or obstruct the course of justice, request the Director of Public Prosecutions to drop the charges against the said Jose Emidio Rodrigues and turn him into a state witness and whereas when the said accused made the said request, he purportedly made it on behalf of Rodrigues, when in fact he had not been so instructed as aforesaid but was on his own unlawful mission. In the premises the said accused did commit the crime of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

See also

‘SWAZI EX-JUSTICE MINISTER TOOK BRIBE’

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

SWAZILAND ‘TO BUILD $3bn SHIPPING PORT’

The Government of Swaziland, an impoverished African nation with no coastline, has backed a plan to build a shipping port which will cost an estimated US$3 billion.

The scheme follows the completion of an ‘international’ airport, built in a wilderness that cost an estimated US$250 million to construct. Fewer than 150 passengers fly out of the King Mswati III Airport at Sikhuphe on any given day.

Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King appoints members of the government.

The airport, dubbed a ‘vanity project’ by aviation experts and the port are part of the King’s effort to turn his kingdom into a ‘First World’ nation by 2022. 

At present, seven in ten of the 1.3 million population live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 per day. Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world and this year it is estimated that at least one-third of the population will need international food aid to avoid starvation.

Meanwhile, the King has 13 palaces, a private jet aircraft and fleets of BMW and Mercedes cars, which he shares with his 14 wives and vast royal family.

The plan is to build a 26-kilometre canal from the Mozambican sea to Mlawula, where the port will be constructed on 15 to 20 hectares of land.   
 
Media in Swaziland report it will cost an estimated E30 billion (US$3 billion).The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom where most news media are censored, reported the plan was confirmed by Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Gideon Dlamini. 

The Times reported him saying, ‘At government level, we are fully behind the project and we are giving it undivided support. The project owners had done presentations to Cabinet and we interrogated it and found that it is a wonderful one. Following Cabinet’s realisation that the project is good and viable, Prime Minister [Barnabas] Sibusiso Dlamini then tasked the different concerned ministries to start working together with the project owners straight away.’

The ministries involved are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

The plan is headed by Moses Motsa, who is often described in the Swazi and South African media as a ‘billionaire’, but it is not clear in which currency he holds his billion.

The Times reported, ‘Dlamini went on to say that each of the ministries had been given specific responsibilities that are in support of business magnate Moses Motsa and his partners. One of the most critical issues that the business proprietors need to be assisted in is having an agreement with the Mozambican Government as the port will be established through a canal coming from the Indian Ocean from the Republic of Mozambique.

‘In this regard, Dlamini said, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation was assigned by the PM to engage with Mozambique with the aim of reaching an agreement over accessing the sea.’

The Times reported Motsa saying the port would harbour big vessels and with docking for up to four ships at once.