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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

SWAZI STUDENTS TO ‘OCCUPY MINISTRY’

Students in Swaziland are planning to march to and then occupy the gates at the office of the Minister of Labour and Social Security today (31 January 2012) in a protest over the closure of their university.


They intend to stay at the office of Lutfo Dlamini, the minister, indefinitely until the government pays the money to allow the university to open and also pays students their allowances.


The University of Swaziland (UNISWA) announced last week it could not open as planned for the second semester because the government had not given it money to operate. UNISWA says it needs E22 million (US$2.8 m) each month to pay administration costs and salaries.


The government cannot pay because it is nearly broke and is struggling to meet its bills, including salaries for public servants.


It also owes some university students their allowances for the semester that ended at Christmas. Students fear allowances will not be paid for this coming semester.


Yesterday, police fired teargas at students injuring several as they protested. Police arrested at least four demonstrators after students vowed to occupy the labour ministry and clashed with peers at William Pitcher College who refused to join their protest, the AFP news agency reported.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

PERKS OF SWAZI POLITICIANS EXPOSED

Trade unions are gearing up to advance their fight against the Swaziland regime and the greed of the politicians who voted themselves payoffs and perks worth millions of US dollars.

Protestors want the Finance Circular No 1 2010 that authorised the payments scrapped.

Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is broke and the government is struggling to pay its bills, including wages of public servants. Seven in 10 of the 1 million population live in abject poverty, earning less than US$2 per day.

It is extremely difficult to get current figures on the pay scales of Swaziland’s politicians, but in April 2011 the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reported salaries as follows:


The PM’s basic salary is E635 296 per year and his allowances amount to E275 648.


The deputy prime minister is paid a E581 772 per year and his allowances stand at E254 524 per year.


Cabinet ministers are paid a basic salary of E508 237 per year while their allowances stand at E562 534 per year.


To refresh memories, here is a digest of what the politicians voted for themselves in Circular No 1.

Constituency allowance:
The prime minister and his deputy despite not having a known constituency, are paid 12.5% of their basic salary as constituency allowance. Others who are paid at the same rate are ministers, presiding officers, MPs, Senators, Regional Administrators (RAs).

Entertainment allowance:
Prime minister, his deputy, ministers, RAs’, presiding officers, MPs including Senators and Tindvuna TetiNkhundla are paid entertainment allowance at a scale of 7.5% of their basic pay.

Housing benefit:
Prime minister, his deputy, minister, presiding officers and RAs are entitled to a housing loan of up to E1.5 million at a maximum of 8% interest for up to 10 years to be arranged by government. MPs and the rest are entitled to a E650 000 loan at a maximum of 8% interest payable over five years.

Tax reimbursement:
The intention of this allowance is to assist cabinet members with the payment of tax on their benefits. These allowances are paid to compensate for legitimate expenditure in the nature of their duties. The prime minister and his team get a 10% reimbursement of basic pay annually. No other politician enjoys this benefit other than themselves.

Utilities:
The circular gives the prime minister and his deputy the privilege of having their water, electricity and municipal rates paid for by government for official residence and one private home ministers and RAs only enjoy water, electricity and municipal rates paid for by government. Presiding officers and deputy presiding officers only get an allowance of 5% of their basic pay in turn.

Vehicles:
The prime minister and deputy prime minister are provided with official vehicles. They are also to receive an annual capital allowance of E120 000 to enable them purchase equivalent vehicles for their private use. The capital allowance shall be equal to that of cabinet ministers.

On leaving office or dissolution, whichever comes first, they will get a cash payment equivalent to the value of their benchmark vehicles less the capital allowance over the period. Further the PM is entitled to a requisition of government truck up to 12 times a year for the transportation of bulk goods within Swaziland. Meanwhile ministers are paid E120 000 annually as capital allowance and a further E74 063 as maintenance allowance.

Funeral assistance:

PM is covered for E80 000 whilst given E30 000 as assistance allowance in case of his spouse’s demise
DPM funeral costs are covered for E70 00 and would get E20 000 assistance for spouse
Minister is covered for E60 000 and E12 000 funeral assistance for spouse
Presiding officers are covered for E40 000 and no mention for spouse
Deputy minister, RA, deputy presiding officer are covered for E30 000
MPs are covered for E20 000.

Benefits for ex-PM and their spouses:
Ex-PM who is not under formal employment gets E10 000 monthly
Ex-PM spouse whose husbands died gets E5 000 monthly
Ex-PM would get E80 000 funeral assistance and their spouses covered at E30 000.

As well as these allowances that are already in force, There are plans to offer payoffs worth E60 million (US$7.55 million) when the present parliament ends next year (2013).

Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, will personally get E1.6 million; his deputy, Themba Masuku, who already claims to be a millionaire, is expected to receive E1.4 million. Each cabinet minister will receive E1.2 million, while Senate President, Gelane Zwane and Speaker, Prince Guduza stand to pocket E1.1 million each. The four regional administrators will also take home E1.1 million each. The deputy senate president and speaker will each get E495 000. Each of Swaziland’s MPs will get E435 000.

See also

STRIKE AGAINST SWAZI FAT CATS

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2012/01/strike-against-swazi-fat-cats.html

MAXWELL AND HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD

Stiffkitten blog

25 January 2012

SOURCE

Maxwell Dlamini nominated for Irish human rights award

President of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), Maxwell Dlamini, has been nominated for the 2012 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. The award is presented by Front Line, an Irish-based human rights organisation founded by former director of the Irish Section of Amnesty International, Mary Lawlor, and is given to “human rights defenders who, through non-violent work, are courageously making an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves.”

Maxwell Dlamini was detained, tortured and forced to sign a confession by members of Swaziland’s police and security forces during the so-called April 12 Swazi Uprising, a peaceful protest inspired by the Arab Spring that was brutally clamped down upon by Swazi police and security forces. He is currently on trial for allegedly having been in possession of explosives and remanded and the infamous Manzini Remand Centre. Several representatives of Swaziland’s democratic movement have called the allegations against Maxwell Dlamini absurd, and an international campaign has demanded his unconditional release.

Maxwell is a threat to the undemocratic Swazi regime precisely because “he is a strong and a brave young leader who stands up and defends human rights,” says Dumezweni Dlamini from the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, a partner organisation of Maxwell’s SNUS. “This is why he has been put behind bars.”

“But there cannot be a better recipient [of the award] than this rare gem of a new generation of activists for the liberation of Swaziland,” says Wandile Dludlu from the Swaziland United Democratic Front. “Maxwell has been at the service of the youth in an oppressive dangerous political environment and has led the students in several campaigns of peaceful protests against unjust government policy. We are proud to be associated with SNUS, who has been producing leaders of a special pedigree like Maxwell. They have made an indelible mark in the history of our struggle for democracy, human rights and good governance.”

The Front Line Defenders Award is presented annually. The winner and his or her organisation is awarded with a cash prize of €15,000. Last years award, presented by former Irish Prime Minister Mary Robinson, was given to the Joint Mobile Group of the Russian Federation “for their outstanding work investigating torture, killings and disappearances in Chechnya.”

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

STRIKE AGAINST SWAZI FAT CATS

Trade unions in Swaziland are ready for a series of rolling strikes to force the government of the cash-strapped kingdom to stop paying cash bonuses worth millions of dollars to the Prime Minister, ministers, senators, MPs and senior civil servants.

Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, will personally get E1.6 million; his deputy, Themba Masuku, who already claims to be a millionaire, is expected to receive E1.4 million. Each cabinet minister will receive E1.2 million, while Senate President, Gelane Zwane and Speaker, Prince Guduza stand to pocket E1.1 million each. The four regional administrators will also take home E1.1 million each. The deputy senate president and speaker will each get E495 000. Each of Swaziland’s MPs will get E435 000.

The total sum of the payoffs is in the region of E60 million (US$7.55 million). They will get the money next year (2013) when the present parliament comes to an end.

These payouts are contained in an order known as Financial Circular No 1 2010. Also contained in the circular are a raft of perks that the parliamentarians are already receiving each month, including housing, entertainment and travel allowances.

In Swaziland seven in ten people live in abject poverty earning less than US$2 a day. The kingdom has run out of cash and has struggled in recent months to pay salaries of public servants. It has left many of its regular bills unpaid and has failed to get the support of the International Monetary Fund to get loans from the international financial community.

All the major trade unions in Swaziland, including the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL), have told the Prime Minister they want Circular No 1 scrapped.

In a letter to the PM they say they will embark on a series of protest actions to force the government’s hand.

The trade unions also want democratic changes in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, including the unbanning of political parties and the release of political prisoners. They also want proposed cuts in public service jobs to be halted.

Anger is growing in Swaziland against the government, handpicked by King Mswati. In 2011 there were a series of strikes and protests, which were put down by police and troops loyal to King Mswati.

See also

SWAZI MPS REFUSE TO CUT THEIR PAY

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/03/swazi-mps-refuse-to-cut-their-pay.html