SADC must act to end sham democracy

South Africans should know that as their government contemplates extending an economic lifeline to Swaziland’s profligate king and court, a South African man is being left to rot in Swaziland’s jails. Last month, the Swazi High Court convicted South African, Amos Mbulaheni Mbedzi, of sedition, murder, unlawful possession of explosives and immigration offences - on the most flimsy 'evidence'. Indeed, the real crime has surely been perpetrated not by Mbedzi but by the court - and Swaziland's 'justice system' - against him.

It's been a week now since the Swazi parliament voted overwhelmingly to boot out the country's Cabinet. And yet nothing has happened. MPs remain steadfast in their determination to remove the executive, while the widely-loathed Prime Minister remains in office - as do his equally unpopular ministerial colleagues. And King Mswati III remains silent and undecided. Meanwhile, Swaziland suffers - adding a constitutional crisis to its already existing economic, social and judicial crises.

AU mission calls for democratic reforms


High Court undermines another basic right

The judicial system in Lesotho is in crisis. After a decade of infighting due to the prevailing cult of personality, there is now a serious backlog of cases - a backlog that is not only delaying but also denying many people the justice they deserve.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative demands action

Want to know how to curry favour with Swaziland’s King Mswati? The best way to butter him up? Just ask Michael Ramodibedi, who has just presented Africa’s last absolute monarch with three cows. Clearly he is very keen to stay in the king’s good books, which in Swaziland is sensible (just ask the civil society leaders who are in the king’s bad books) but which in any democratic society would be a serious problem because Ramodibedi is the country’s Chief Justice.

For a man who's often seen flashing a lot of flesh in his traditional monarchical garb, King Mswati III seems to have very thin skin. Even the tiniest criticism seems to upset him. His sycophantic ministers and cronies have tried everything to shield him from complaints - stuffing parliament with supporters, ensuring all chiefs are compliant, beating up protestors, muzzling the printed media and banning any independent radio stations from broadcasting - but they still can't prevent the rising tide of discontent and anti-Mswati sentiments from reaching his sensitive ears.

It is not often that the Swazi people get to say what they think about anything - let alone their King. Their elections are little more than 'selections' given the ban on political parties. And their press is not allowed to be much more than a praise-singer for the monarchy. But a Gallup poll conducted late in 2011 has at least given an idea of what Swazis think - and it won't be happy reading for the King and his clique since more than 40% of Swazis disapprove of the King's performance.

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