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Monday, 31 August 2009

SWAZI DEMOCRAT TO GO ON TRIAL

The trial of Swazi democrat Mario Masuku, accused of supporting terrorist acts, will go for trail next month (September 2009).


Masuku, who is president of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), has been remanded in jail since November 2008, charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act and the Sedition Act.


Mumcy Dlamini, the Swaziland Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said at least six witnesses were ready to testify against Masuku who is alleged ‘to have unlawfully and knowingly given support to the commission of terrorist acts by uttering the words to the effect that “they will continue with the bombing of vital installations and structures of the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland”’.


According to a report in the Times Sunday yesterday (30 August 2009), he is said to have uttered words to the effect that Musa ‘MJ’ Dlamini and Jack Governder, who died in a bomb blast at Lozitha overhead bridge, were heroes and they died while PUDEMO needed them the most. He is accused of making these utterances on 27 September, 2008 at KaLanga in the Lubombo region at the funeral of Dlamini.


The trial is expected to start on 21 September 2009 and it could take up to ten days to complete.


Masuku is represented by lawyer Thulani Maseko, who is also facing terrorism charges in his own capacity.


Previously, the DPP announced that advocates would come from South Africa to conduct the trial on behalf of the Swazi state.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

SWAZI PAPER IN LESBIAN SHOCKER

Can someone at the Times Sunday explain why their reporters attended a restaurant ‘in disguise’ in order to spy on a couple of women who were about to declare their love for one another?


The Times Sunday reports today (30 August 2009) about Thuli Rudd and her partner Pitseng Vilakati, had gathered their friends and family together at what the newspaper calls a ‘trendy restaurant’ and declared that they were to marry one another.


The reporters for some reason unexplained had secreted themselves at the restaurant in order to spy on the two women, described by the newspaper as ‘lesbians’.


Once the declaration of love was over the reporters declared their identities.


The newspaper reports, ‘Journalists who were in disguise also had the opportunity of witnessing and capturing the event, however after all was said and done the journalists then revealed their identity and the couple did not have a problem as they officially welcomed them and posed for us and properly gave us a taste of lesbian love.’


The newspaper then goes on to give lurid details of how the couple might react together in bed.


I have written before about how the Times Sunday treats lesbians as if it were something for straight male readers to drool over and more generally, how news media in Swaziland use hate speech to demonise homosexuality.


The decision for two people of the same sex to marry ‘will no doubt get the tongues wagging,’ the Times Sunday says and the newspaper has certainly done its bit to encourage this.


Elsewhere in Swaziland, King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has been telling his subjects he wants his kingdom to become a ‘first world’ country. If the treatment of homosexuality is anything to go by, Swaziland has a long way to go before it reaches this state.


By a coincidence of timing, at about the same time the two women were declaring their love for each other I was in a first world country at the other side of the world witnessing the positive side of gay and lesbian life.


Yesterday in Manchester, UK, I was one of the thousands of people of all backgrounds – men, women and children; straight, gay, bi, transgender; old, middle aged and young – who thronged the streets to see the annual Manchester Pride parade.


More than 80 organisations took part demonstrating just how many gay and lesbian people there are in society.


The parade that took about two hours to pass the spot where I stood featured among others gays and lesbians from the fire service, health service, teachers, civil servants and prison service. There were gay football, rugby and water polo players. I saw mothers, fathers, sons, daughters.


Gays and lesbians from all three of the UK’s major political parties were there as were gays and lesbians from churches and other faith groups. The biggest contingent was from the police force. There were so many coppers that people in the crowd near me were actually asking one another ‘Do you think they’re all gay?’


The answer of course is: Yes.


Just over 40 years ago homosexuality was decriminalised in England and the people of this country started on a long road to tolerating difference. Before 1967 when the law was changed if such a parade would have been possible (it wouldn't have) and you’d asked the question, ‘They can’t all be gay?’ the answer from the crowd would have been: No. The crowd would have been wrong. Before 1967 it had to be hidden because it was illegal, that’s the difference.


Now back to Swaziland. I don’t have ‘evidence’ but my intuition tells me there are many more gays in Swaziland than people generally believe – but they are hidden.


The Times Sunday could do us all a favour and stop sensationalising homosexuality and start a reasoned discussion on how to welcome gays into society.


As one of the T-shirts at the Manchester Pride parade had it: We’re Gay. Get Used to It.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

IS SWAZI KING TO GET PRIVATE JET?

Here we go again; the Swazi Government is considering buying an airplane for King Mswati III.


Parliamentarians are saying the plane will be for the ‘nation’, but as we know in Swaziland the king holds everything ‘in trust’ for the nation, so in effect it will be his to do with as he pleases.


The idea was aired at a sitting of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport portfolio committee on Thursday (27 August 2009).


The minister Ntuthuko Dlamini told the committee, ‘Let us consider buying our own aircraft.’ The committee was discussing various concerns over the perceived inadequacies of airline travel to and from Swaziland.


Swaziland still hasn’t recovered from the last aborted attempt to buy a jet for King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.


In 2002 the then Swazi Government secretly and illegally entered into a contract to buy a private jet for the king. When news leaked out and the outcry travelled around the world, the government was forced to abandon the contract and lost a E28m (3.6 million US dollars at current exchange rates) deposit.


In February 2009 Finance Minister Majozi Sithole promised that the deposit for the jet was to be returned to Swaziland with interest. As far as I know this hasn’t happened, and personally I’m not holding my breath that it ever will.


News that the Swaziland Government is even discussing the possibility of buying a jet plane will cause dismay throughout the world.


The king wastes money all time while 70 percent of his subjects live in abject poverty.

King Mswati has been under heavy criticism this past month after news leaked in the international media (but was suppressed in Swaziland) that five of the king’s 13 wives had been on a global shopping spree, spending at least six million dollars.


In April 2009 he bought 20 top-of –the-range armoured Mercedes cars
at an estimated cost of 250,000 dollars each. Last year he spent about 10 million dollars on a 40/40 celebration to mark his own birthday and the 40th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence from Britain and a further four million dollars sending eight of his wives on a shopping trip to Dubai.


The fact that the Swazi Government may entertain the purchase of the plane is evidence of how out of touch with reality its members are. Swaziland is bracing itself for a reduction of at least a half in Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) receipts this year which will result in vicious cuts in public spending in a kingdom that already has threadbare health and education services.


The Swazi Government needs to make a clear statement confirming that the idea to buy the plane was just a bit of kite flying and no such purchase will in fact be made.