Building International, Regional and National Consensus on Swaziland: Suppression of Terrorism Act, Labor Unions, and Political Prisoners

Tuesday 31 March 2015, Pretoria


Chair: Bishop Rubin Phillip

Tanele Thwala

Tanele Thwala, the wife of Thulani Maseko

The political situation in Swaziland is continuing to deteriorate with increased suppression of pro-democracy activity. Recently, a meeting of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) was disrupted by police and turned violent. The abuse of the country’s justice system by the monarchy continues unabated as seen by the postponement of court hearings on the constitutionality of the country’s Suppression of Terrorism Act. The fate of Mario Masuku, the President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), and Youth Leader Maxwell Dlamini who have been incarcerated since May 2014, depends on the outcome of this hearing. Mario is diabetic and since his incarceration, his health condition has been worsening. Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko and editor of The Nation magazine Bhekithemba Makhubu are still serving a two year prison term for a contempt of court conviction arising from publishing an article critical of Swaziland’s judiciary.

Mlungisi Makhanya, Secretary General People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)

Mlungisi Makhanya, Secretary General People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)

Mary da Silva, Human Rights Lawyer

Mary da Silva, Human Rights Lawyer

While ultimately, effecting democratic change lies on the shoulders of the Swazis, the history of democratic struggles world over tells us that South Africa, the region and the international community have a role to play. Thus far, the lukewarm regional and international responses to the situation in Swaziland raise questions about notions of “international solidarity” and the place for “value driven international relations” in our contemporary world.

Muzi Masuku, Programme Officer, Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA)

Muzi Masuku, Programme Officer, Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA)

Rebone Tau

Rebone Tau

Prof Michelo Hansungule, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Prof Michelo Hansungule, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Within this context, this dialogue sought to contribute to greater national, regional and international consensus on Swaziland by doing the following:
1. Highlighting the political situation in Swaziland, especially the deplorable treatment of pro-democracy activists,
2. Discussing ways in which actors in South Africa and the region can positively influence the political developments in Swaziland.

Lucian Segami, National Education and Health & Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU)

Lucian Segami, National Education and Health & Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU)

Klaus Kristensen3

Klaus Kristensen, International Free Mario and Maxwell Campaign


Building National Consensus on the Post-2015 development Agenda: Goal 16 and access to justice in SA

Date: Thursday 26 March 2015
Venue: Garden Court Nelson Mandela Boulevard, Cape Town

Keynote:  Mr Enver Daniels – Chief State Law Adviser: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

Keynote: Mr Enver Daniels – Chief State Law Adviser: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

The inclusion of Goal 16 relating to the “Promotion of peace and inclusive societies for sustainable development and improving access to justice for all…” in the proposed sustainable development goals (SDGs), the subsequent endorsement by the UN synthesis report and the high likelihood of this goal being retained in the post-2015 framework to be adopted in September (2015) signals an imminent victory for the global advocacy campaign for the inclusion of peace, human security and justice in the post-2015 development framework. Justice, peace and human security are strong ingredients and prerequisites for sustainable development. Access to justice allows for development to be more equitable and representative, thereby complementing the peace and human security initiatives that underpin sustainable development. But what will the adoption of goal 16 mean in reality?

From left to right: Ms Holly  McGurk – National Project Coordinator, UNASA; Ms Litlhare Rabele - Programme Coordinator: Peace, Security and Gender, HURISA; Ms Natalie Jaynes - Project Officer: Human rights and LGBTI, Open Society Foundation (OSF-SA)

From left to right: Ms Holly McGurk – National Project Coordinator, UNASA; Ms Litlhare Rabele – Programme Coordinator: Peace, Security and Gender, HURISA; Ms Natalie Jaynes – Project Officer: Human rights and LGBTI, Open Society Foundation (OSF-SA)

While discussions on this goal have by and large been underpinned by the reference to “fragile and violent conflict affected states”, a forward-looking discussion about implementation and domestication of the post-2015 framework necessitates a conversation about its relevance to the South Africa context. This means that we also have to discuss the link between justice and peace, and how they collectively contribute to development within South Africa. Moreover, given that the post-2015 framework discussions are still ongoing, how can an understanding of the relevance of this goal to our local context help to improve the framing of the present goal and its targets?

Ms Sanusha Naidu – Associate: Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS)

Ms Sanusha Naidu – Associate: Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS)

As part of our Development Dialogue Series meant to enrich post-2015 development framework discussions, SALO was delighted to convene a workshop that brought together government, business, civil society and the diplomatic community to consider the relevance of goal 16 and related targets to the SA context and what access to justice means in South Africa. The workshop further looked at the practical means of guaranteeing “access to justice” to potentially vulnerable groups such as migrants, LGBTI persons, and people with disabilities.

Advocate Sha’ista Kazee – SALO Board Member

Advocate Sha’ista Kazee – SALO Board Member

Dialogue Online – No. 5/2015: “A Critique of the Current Regional Approach to Human Security within the Context of Informality and a Pervasive Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) Sector” By Tamara Naidoo and Showers Mawowa

The Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s human security infrastructure embraces the notions of freedom from want and fear as represented in the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report (1994) . However looking into SADC’s Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) on socio-economic dimensions and the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO) on peace and security, the infrastructure tends to focus heavily on the development and support of formal markets, essentially neglecting another core aspect of African life, the informal sector. In so doing, an opportunity to enhance human security by tapping into the informal economy is missed. This paper calls for a paradigm shift in regional and national policies towards ASM.

Download PDF here: DO5of2015

Swaziland – 20 March 2015

South Africa: Defend Swaziland Unions – Free Mario Masuku!
By The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
The Congress of South African Trade Unions strongly condemns recent violent attacks by Swaziland police on trade union meetings and sends a message of solidarity and support to the Swazi workers struggling for democracy and the right to organise in free and independent trade unions.
On 14 March 2015 King Mswati’s police broke up a meeting of the executive board of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), and injured a union leader who was taking part.


Renewable Energy Key to Achieving Socio-Economic Development in Swaziland, Says New IRENA Report
By Alternative Energy Magazin
Ezulwini, Swaziland, 19 March 2015 – Developing Swaziland’s vast renewable energy resources would provide substantial socio-economic benefits for its population, according to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The Swaziland Renewables Readiness Assessment estimates that bagasse, a by-product of the local sugar industry, could meet half of all domestic electricity demand while solar power could contribute substantially to the remaining demand.
Alternative Energy Magazin

Swaziland: Support for Jailed Swazi Journalists
By Swazi Media Commentary
The first anniversary of the jailing of two journalists in Swaziland after they wrote and published articles critical of the kingdom’s judiciary has been marked by condemnations from across the world.
Bheki Makhubu, the editor of the Nation magazine, and Thulani Maseko, a human rights lawyer and writer, were remanded in detention on 18 March 2014. In July 2014 they were each jailed for two years without the option of a fine for committing contempt of court.
The Nation and Swaziland Independent Publishers were also fined E50,000 (US$5,000) each.
Swazi Media Commentary

Snat’s Muzi Loses Tooth In Scuffle With 15 Cops
By Lunga Masuku
MBABANE – Secretary General of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Muzi Mhlanga lost one of his front teeth and is suffering from painful private parts after an alleged scuffle with police.
The incident is said to have happened last Saturday when police officers stopped a meeting organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA). The meeting was scheduled to be held at the SNAT Centre in Manzini.
Mhlanga alleged that he was dragged for about 20 metres, while about 15 police officers held him by his private parts.
In an interview yesterday, Mhlanga said he had just returned from Lusaka, Zambia, where he had gone to attend a meeting of regional leaders of teachers’ organisations.
Times of Swaziland


MISA condemns continued imprisonment of Swazi prisoners of conscience
By Star Africa
YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon, 18 March 2015 / PRN Africa / — The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) condemns the continued imprisonment of editor Bheki Makhubu and Thulani Maseko in Swaziland. Today marks one year since the pair were remanded in detention following an unconstitutional closed court hearing on 18 March 2014. The pair were arrested and charged in connection to separate articles criticising the Swazi judiciary, which appeared in independent news magazine, The Nation. They were convicted of contempt of court on 17 July 2014 and later sentenced to two years in prison, with no option of a fine. The Nation and Swaziland Independent Publishers were also fined E50,000 each. The ruling was unreasonably severe and clearly intended to send a message to those who might contemplate future criticism of Swaziland’s judiciary.
Star Africa

”We Are Not Deterred” – A Prison Letter From Swazi Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko On The One Year Anniversary Of His Detention
By Jeffrey Smith
My friend Thulani Maseko is one of the most courageous human beings I have ever met. He is an unflinching iconoclast in Swaziland, Africa’s last absolute monarchy and the continent’s most quietly repressive nation. Thulani has fearlessly campaigned to highlight the inherent deficiencies of the Tinkhundla system of governance, which vests undue power in the hands of one man: King Mswati III, who assumed power at the age of 18, following the death of his father, and previous king, Sobhuza II.1
A year ago today, Thulani and Bheki Makhubu, a veteran magazine editor, were each sentenced to two years in prison for writing, and then publishing, articles that were critical of Swaziland’s undeniably rotten judicial system. Thulani has remained steadfast and brave, despite the clear, and still ongoing, miscarriages of justice against him, which include a farcical sedition trial slated for this summer.


Swazi Writers Still In Jail A Year Later
By Reporters Without Borders
A year has passed since the respected journalist Bheki Makhubu was jailed in Africa’s last absolute monarchy. Reporters Without Borders is appalled by his unjustified two-year prison sentence for contempt of court.
The editor of the monthly magazine The Nation, Bheki Makhubu is one of the few journalists in Swaziland willing to hold the ruling elite to account. For his efforts, he has now spent a year in Sidwashini prison, just north of the capital Mbabane. Chief Justice Michael Ramadobedi summarily remanded him in custody in March 2014 on a charge of contempt of court. He was sentenced to two years in prison in July.
His crime was writing a well argued and impassioned opinion piece detailing corruption in Swaziland’s judiciary. It shed a light on judicial abuse and reminded the custodians of the law that they should adhere to it themselves.
Reporters Without Borders

SD to now trade in diamonds
by Nomthandazo Nkambule
SWAZILAND’s mining sector will soon realise potential growth as the country is expected to now trade in diamonds.
This follows the finalisation of the procurement process for the Kimberly Process Certificates.
According to the ministry of natural resources and energy annual performance report 2014/15 delivered in parliament by Minister Jabulile Mashwama, the mining department continued with reforms that were set to place the sector among key contributors to national economic growth.
Swazi Observer


Pm’s Statement Shocking, Says Justice Minister
MANZINI – Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Sibusiso Shongwe has expressed his shock at the utterances of the Prime Minister (PM), Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini, confirming the presence of judiciary challenges in the country’s.
“In fact, I do not believe the premier said the words attributed to him, he must have been quoted out of context but then it remains to be seen,” Shongwe said.
The minister emphasised that the credibility of the Judiciary had not been compromised as it remained strong and independent.
“His Majesty’s courts have made great strides in restoring the rule of law in the country. The episodes of 2002-2003 will never be seen in Swaziland again,” he said.
Times of Swaziland

I won’t resign over judicial crisis – PM
By Sibongile Sukati
The Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini says he will not resign from his position.
This was after Lobamba Member of Parliament Michael Masilela asked the PM to step down if he fails to solve the mess within the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs
“I will not step down because I know that there is a problem within the justice ministry and we’re already working on fixing it; and something will happen,” he said.
Swazi Observer


MASHOBENI – While the Border Restoration Committee (BRC) is working round the clock to retain Swazi land that was lost to South Africa during the colonial era, the kingdom has a case to answer in a South African court for allegedly interfering in a chieftaincy dispute in that country.
It is said the country was fined E100 000, a ruling which the kingdom’s government is appealing in the Pretoria High Court in South Africa.
The Mashobeni community in northern Hhohho is torn following a chieftaincy dispute that has been dragging for over 10 years now. What seems to have exacerbated the situation is that one faction presented its candidate, Chief Matsafeni Norman Shongwe, to the Swazi authorities as the rightful chief of both Mashobeni and the land stretching beyond our borders in Schoemansdal, South Africa.
Times of Swaziland

Dialogue Online – No. 4/2015: “Peace and Security in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Progress and Prospects?” By Showers Mawowa

Though the connection between peace and development is commonly acknowledged, the inclusion of peace and security in the emerging post-2015 development framework has been one of most contested propositions. The consensus around 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets including Goal 16 on “peaceful and inclusive societies” and provision of “access to justice” by the Open Working Group (OWG) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on the 29th of July 2014 and the subsequent endorsement of the SDGs by the UN Secretary General’s Synthesis Report of 4 December 2014, is a remarkable achievement for advocates of peace and justice issues in the post-2015 development framework. Within this context and in light of the ongoing marathon negotiations leading to the September 2015 UNGA meant to adopt a post-2015 development framework, this article reflects on progress and prospects towards the inclusion of peace and security goals and targets and implications beyond 2015.

Download PDF here: DO4of2015

“Extractive Futures” Dialogue Series Workshop – Challenges and Opportunities-

Monday 16 March 2015
Burgers Park Hotel, Pretoria

The “Extractive Futures Dialogue Series” is aimed at enhancing the sustainability and development contribution of resource extraction in South Africa and the region by facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue, knowledge and experience sharing on international best practices in extractives transparency and the implementation of the African Mining Vision.

SALO 16-03-15

Welcome: Ms Molly Dhlamini (SALO)


Moderator: Dr Showers Mawowa (SALO)


Keynote: Hon. Godfrey Oliphant, Deputy Minister, Department of Mineral Resources (South Africa) Topic: “The African Mining Vision and Investment Promotion in South Africa”

Read PDF here: Address by the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources SALO

H.E.  Judith Macgregor

H.E. Judith Macgregor, The British High Commissioner, South Africa

Roger Baxter

Mr Roger Baxter, Chief Operations Officer, Chamber of Mines of South Africa

Vic Van Vuuren3

Mr. Vic Van Vuuren, Director, International Labour Organization (ILO), Pretoria Office

Swaziland – 16 March 2015

USA firms still keen to trade with SD
By Nomthandazo Nkambule
DESPITE the uncertainty of the country’s trade with the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), lots of firms in the United States of America (USA) still want to partner with firms in Swaziland.
USA Arthur Group Senior Partner Sam Arthur said the USA firms wanted to partner with others from Africa especially those from the Sub-Saharan Africa like Swaziland, Lesotho and many others.
He said there were possible collaborations in supply chain, diverse expertise, consulting, call centre, mining, information technology (IT), health care outsourcing and many others.
Arthur said there would be so many benefits for the countries associated with trading with the US and these included strengthening business relations, improvement in firms stability, reputation enhancement.
Swazi Observer


Time to pull the plug on SACU
By Peter Fabricius
The formula that determines how the customs and excise revenues gathered in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) are distributed among its members looks, to a layperson, dauntingly complex. But this formula has had an enormous impact on the economic and even political development of the five SACU member states; South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.
The impact has arguably been greatest on South Africa’s neighbours, the four smaller member states that are often referred to simply as the BLNS. But it has also had an impact on South Africa.
SACU was founded in 1910, the year the Union of South Africa came into existence, and is the oldest surviving customs union in the world. Originally it distributed customs revenue from the common external trade tariffs in proportion to each country’s trade.
Institute for Security Studies.


Labour minister concedes federations’ non registration impacting on SNPF
By Thembeka Dlamini
The continued non registration of unions is affecting the operations of the Swaziland National Provident Fund (SNPF) as it remains without a board.
The board disintegrated after the de-registration of the unions as the ministry of labour and social security wants them to be registered as per the requirements of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act of 2014. The minister, however, assured SNPF management that this anomaly would soon be sorted during a tour of the headquarters in Manzini as part of her Vusela exercise.
“The present board no longer forms a quorum and the provident fund was affected because the tripartite structure collapsed as a result of deregistration of the federations,” the minister said.
Swazi Observer


Swaziland: Swazi King’s Birthday Excesses
By Swazi Media Commentary
King Mswati III of Swaziland will celebrate his 47th birthday at Buhleni, one of his 13 palaces, in the Hhohho region, one of the poorest regions of his kingdom.
Details of the celebrations on 19 April 2014 have yet to be announced, but if they follow celebrations in recent years King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, will ensure that many millions of dollars are spent on him.
In 2013 his birthday party cost US$3.6 million, but Percy Simelane, spokesperson for the Swazi Government, which is handpicked by the King, said this money did not come out of the kingdom’s budget for celebrations and national events. He told Voice of America radio, ‘The king’s birthday was privately sponsored this year, as [was] the case was last year.’
Swazi Media Commentary

CANGO relaunches its brand
By Winile Mavuso
The Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO) has rebranded itself and launched its new logo in style during a function at Happy Valley yesterday.

The launch was attended by players in the NGO sector as well as donor organisations. Notables during the event included Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Gideon Dlamini, Principal Secretary in the Deputy Prime Minister’s office Khangeziwe Mabuza, Swaziland Standards Authority Director Dr Lomkhosi Mkhonta, Swaziland Business Coalition against HIV and AIDS Director Thobile Dlamini, Save the Children Director Dumsani Mnisi and National Emergency Response Council on HIV and AIDS National Executive Director Khanya Mabuza.

In his opening remarks, CANGO Director Emmanuel Ndlangamandla outlined that CANGO was established in 1983 originally as a network of Primary Health Care NGOs. It expanded its mandate to be an umbrella body for non-governmental organisations in Swaziland in 1987. With a membership of about 70 NGOs, CANGO’s main mandate is focused on coordinating the NGO sector, building the capacity of its members to fulfill their mandate, influencing policies through advocacy and managing grants.
Swazi Observer


EDITORIAL: Sacu formula needs revision
By Nhlanhla Nene
LAST month’s budget estimated that about R979bn of tax revenue will flow into the public purse in the current fiscal year, which ends at the end of this month. Of this SA will pay almost R52bn to its Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) neighbours.
This is in terms of a formula that has been in place for just over a decade, since the Sacu — SA, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia — renegotiated an apartheid-era agreement from 1969 on how customs and excise revenue for the region would be shared.
Business Day

Police intimidation in Swaziland
By LO – Informasjons- og rådgivningsavdelingen
The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions has written a letter to Prime Minister in Swaziland strongly condemning the systematic interference by police in lawful and legitimate trade union activities.
The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) organised a mass meeting scheduled to take place on 26 February 2015 at the Bosco Skills Centre Hall in Manzini in order to address questions related to the registration of trade unions, the loss of trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the recognition of trade unions for collective bargaining purposes and other democratic rights. However, police intimidated the landlord of the Bosco Skills Centre Hall on 24 February 2015 indicating that he could not rent out the hall to TUCOSWA without the permission of the police. Police also reminded him that he had to follow the law of the land without stating which laws he would have violated by renting the space to TUCOSWA.
Landsorganisasjonen i Norge


Perks for elite, but budget gloomy for poor
By Lewis Simelane
Mbabane – Swaziland’s R16 billion 2015/16 government budget is proving controversial even in a country where dissent is usually stifled.
Although the projected government revenues this year will be R14.6bn, down from R14.8bn last year and guaranteeing a deficit, criticism of the budget presented to parliament this past week by Finance Minister Martin Dlamini has been directed towards spending priorities.
“Budgeting for the real things, Swaziland needs to grow its stagnant or shrinking economy. Agriculture should command 10 percent of the budget to make Swaziland once again food secure. Instead, the 3.3 percent of spending for agriculture is less than last year. The attitude among the leadership seems to be as long as there are donor groups and the UN to keep Swazis from starving, then government revenue is free to be used to beef up the security forces,” a Mbabane economist who requested anonymity said.
Business Report

I dare you! Ncongwane challenges govt
By Welcome Dlamini
Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland Vincent Ncongwane leaves for London, England, next Sunday to talk about democracy in Swaziland.
The invitation comes a week after police stopped a TUCOSWA meeting from taking place because included in the day’s agenda was a deliberation on multi-party democracy. It also comes a couple of weeks after His Majesty King Mswati III, when delivering his Speech from the Throne during the opening of the second session of the 10th Parliament, expressed concern about individuals tarnishing the country’s image.
He said it should deeply concern every Swazi to hear people who have no knowledge of Swazi culture, “portraying it in bad light on some foreign forums”.
Swazi Observer


SD Loses Over 2500 Jobs, 660 Created In 2014/15
By Kwanele Dhladhla
MBABANE – Efforts by Swaziland Investment Promotions Authority (SIPA) to attract investments that could create jobs continue to be watered down by the number of job losses which surpassed the number of jobs created by 73 per cent.
This effectively means the 660 jobs created by SIPA through successfully inviting seven companies to open shop in Swaziland during the 2014/15 financial year did nothing to the country’s unemployment statistics since 2547 people were either retrenched or became redundant.
Times of Swaziland


Swaziland: Swazi King’s HIV Pledge in Ruins
By Swazi Media Commentary
Only weeks after King Mswati III of Swaziland said that he would personally wipe out the HIV virus in his kingdom, local media have reported a ‘panic’ as ARV drugs ran out.
The King, who has been mocked around the world for his claim to be able to rid Swaziland of HIV, the virus that leads to AIDS, made his claim in a speech opening the Swazi Parliament.
ARVs are drugs used to help people who are living with the HIV virus.
Swazi Media Commentary

Policy Brief 1 of 2015 – Extractives Revenue Transparency in SADC: Challenges and Opportunities


On 13 November 2014, the Southern Africa Liaison Office (SALO) held a regional multi-stakeholder workshop on Extractives Revenue Transparency as part of its “Extractive Futures Dialogue Series”. The series aims to enhance the sustainability and development contribution of resource extraction in South Africa and the region by facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue and knowledge and experience sharing on international best practices in extractives transparency. This policy brief summarises the key insights from this workshop.

Download full PDF here: Policy Brief 1 of 2015