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Showing posts with label Gamedze Mgwagwa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gamedze Mgwagwa. Show all posts

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


Swaziland is eager to expand its ties with Iran, the Iranian news agency FNA reported this week.

What it did not report was that Iran is about to have an election. This is what Human Rights Watch says about the Iranian election. 
Serious electoral flaws and human rights abuses by the Iranian government undermine any meaningful prospect of free and fair elections on June 14, 2013. Dozens of political activists and journalists detained during the violent government crackdown that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election remain in prison, two former presidential candidates are under house arrest, and authorities are already clamping down on access to the internet, having arbitrarily disqualified most registered presidential and local election candidates.’

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch said, ‘Fair elections require a level playing field in which candidates can freely run and voters can make informed decisions.’

‘How can Iran hold free elections when opposition leaders are behind bars and people can’t speak freely?’

Swaziland wants to do business with the Iranian regime. The news agency FNA reported, “‘We want strong ties between the two countries and while we are completely satisfied with the current relations with Iran, we are also after expanding these relations,’ the Swazi justice minister [Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze] said in a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Morteza Bakhtiari in Tehran on Tuesday.’

Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is holding its own election later this year. Political parties are banned from taking part and members of parliament have been silenced from appearing on state controlled broadcast media in the kingdom. 

Swaziland’s economy is in free-fall and it is finding it almost impossible to attract foreign investment into the kingdom.

According to the FNA report the Swazi Justice Minister, ‘called on Iran to provide the ground for a visit by the Swazi businessmen to Iran, and said, “No doubt, more job opportunities will be created in our country after such visits.”’

Swaziland has a murky relationship with the dictators in Iran. In February 2011, the Guardian newspaper in the UK reported that Britain had blocked a $60m sale of helicopters, armoured cars and machine guns to Swaziland, fearing the weapons could end up in Iran. The report was based on cables between US diplomats that had been published by Wikileaks.

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Saturday, 19 January 2013


King Mswati III’s Swaziland government is in search of a hangman so prisoners presently on death row may be executed.

The Swazi Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze said a job vacancy advert would be placed as soon as possible.

Gamedze told the Weekend Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, an advert had been placed last year but no suitable applicants had put their name forward. 

The Observer reported that taxpayers, who they did not name, had complained about the cost of keeping death-row inmates in prison.  

Gamedze said his ministry was waiting for permission to place the hangman’s advert again. Immediately they got the instruction, they would definitely re-advertise the post, the Observer reported him saying.

The Observer said, ‘Some of the concerned members of the public’ (again, who they did not name) wanted to see David Simelane, who had been sentenced to death last year (2012) for killing 28 people, executed. At least five other people are thought to be waiting execution in Swaziland.

The Observer said families to victims (who they did not name) ‘who were murdered by the convicts … said they were comforted when the courts issued the [death] sentences but it pained them to see that the convicts were still enjoying full benefits for inmates at the correctional institutions’.

In October 2011, Swaziland was heavily criticised at the UN Universal Periodic Review  into human rights in the kingdom for continuing to have the death penalty. Gamedze told the UN that although the death penalty existed in Swaziland the last execution had been in 1983. He said this showed that the kingdom was abolitionist in practice. 

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Tuesday, 4 December 2012


Two more men have been sentenced to hang in Swaziland this past week.

This comes after Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, told a United Nations group that although the kingdom retained the death penalty it was ‘abolitionist in practice’.

The men, both named Simelane, were involved in separate cases before the courts. David Simelane had his conviction for killing 28 women and children over a period of about 10 years upheld by the Supreme Court.  

The other man, Mciniseli Jomo Simelane, was convicted by the Swazi High Court of killing a seven-month-old baby when he set fire to a house. 

The death sentences once again put the spotlight on Swaziland’s human rights record.

In October 2011, Swaziland was heavily criticised at the UN Universal Periodic Review  into human rights in the kingdom for continuing to have the death penalty. Gamedze told the UN that although the death penalty existed in Swaziland the last execution had been in 1983. He said this showed that the kingdom was abolitionist in practice. 

But, in April 2012, Gamedze told the Times of Swaziland the kingdom would not follow the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and abolish the death penalty. Gamedze said for the time being, the kingdom was not ready to accede to the convention. 

He said at the time that David Simelane would not hang, unless the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal against the death penalty. Simelane has now lost that appeal.

International anti-capital punishment groups estimate that about seven people are waiting for execution on ‘death row’ in Swaziland. 

Contrary to Gamedze’s assertion that Swaziland is abolitionist, the kingdom has been advertising on and off for years to appoint a hangman. But so far, no one has been given the job.

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Monday, 5 November 2012


One of Swaziland’s most vocal pro-democracy groups has called for a new law to ban hate speech against homosexuals.

The call by the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) follows a debate in the Swazi House of Assembly in which MP Aaron Sotsha Dladla called for gays and lesbians to be outlawed in the kingdom.

Dladla said a new law should be put in place to deal with ‘this mushrooming anti-social’ behaviour of gays and lesbians. He went on to make a number of disparaging comments about homosexuals.

The Swazi Observer reported him saying, ‘We must first pass a law that will ban this practice before it takes root. Anyone found breaking that law should be dealt with severely.’ 

The SSN responded in a statement by calling MPs and members of Swaziland’s ruling elite ‘ghastly hypocritical’ because, it said, some of them were themselves closet homosexuals. It also claimed a prominent member of the Swazi Royal Family was a lesbian.

Gays and lesbians are routinely victimised in Swaziland. In November 2011, Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, said Swaziland would not give human rights to gay people, because they did not exist in the kingdom. 
He was responding to criticism of Swaziland by a United Nations (UN) working group on human rights that said the kingdom should enact equality laws for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.

A group called HOOP (House of Our Pride), a support group for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Inter-sex (GLBTI) people, reported to the UN, ‘It is a common scene for GLBTI to be verbally insulted by by-passers in public places. [There is] defamatory name calling and people yelling out to see a GLBTI person’s reproductive part are some of the issues facing GLBTI in Swaziland.’

‘Faith houses have been known to discriminate against GLBTI, advocating for the alienation of GLBTI in the family and society, while maintaining that these GLBTI are possessed by demons.’
HOOP also said GLBTI people were often discriminated against at work and there had been well known cases of this.

In one of the first reports of its kind detailing sexual orientation discrimination in Swaziland, HOOP revealed, ‘GLBTI are hugely discriminated against in the community, as they are not recognized at community meetings and their points are often not minuted at these meetings nor are they allowed to take part in community services.’

Police often ridiculed GLBTI people if they reported they had been victims of violent crime. ‘A good example of such practices is in the on-going case of a well-known GLBTI in Swaziland, Patricia Dludlu, who is currently in incarceration for a different offence but is constantly ridiculed by the media and police because of her sexuality.’

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Friday, 23 March 2012


Swaziland’s Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs is threatening a clampdown on Facebook and Twitter users who say bad things about the kingdom.

Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze said he would use the law against people who criticise Swaziland on the Internet.

Most mainstream media in Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, are state controlled. Censorship on state TV and radio is common and one of Swaziland’s two daily newspapers is in effect owned by King Mswati. There is only one independent newspaper group in the kingdom and this censors itself when reporting about the Swazi royal family.

A number of blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook sites have been created in recent years, many with the express purpose of furthering the campaign for democracy in Swaziland.

Many of them originate in the kingdom and others are based outside. They are the only freely-available source of news and comment critical of the king that is available inside Swaziland.

Chief Gamedze told the Swazi Senate that he would use what he called ‘international laws’ to bring the Internet critics to task. He was reacting to concerns from Senators that the Internet sites showed ‘disrespect’ to the king.

Chief Gamedze did not specify which laws he would use.

This is not the first time the Swazi Government has claimed it will attack Internet users. In May 2011 Nathaniel Mahluza, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology, said the police had specially-trained officers to track down people who used Facebook to criticise the Swazi Government.

In March 2011, Barnabas Dlamini, the Swaziland Prime Minister, told Senators that his government would track down, arrest and prosecute Gangadza Masilela, a prominent Facebook activist.

Despite these threats, no arrests have been made.

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Friday, 20 January 2012


King Mswati III of Swaziland is to fly in the face of international opposition and continue his ban on political parties at the national elections next year (2013).

Political parties have been banned since 1973 when Mswati’s father, King Sobhuza II, tore up the Swazi constitution and ruled by decree.

Today, King Mswati is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

This week, Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in the Swaziland Government, handpicked by King Mswati, confirmed that there would be no changes to the way the national elections would be run. This means parties are banned and only candidates standing as individuals can compete for election.

This flies in the face of international opinion. At the last election in 2008, the European Union refused to send a delegation to monitor the fairness of the election. It said at the time that it was clear that Swaziland was not a democracy

The Pan-African Parliament, which did monitor the election, reported, ‘The non-participation of political parties makes these elections extraordinary from any others but we hope with time things will change.’

In 2003, the Commonwealth Expert Team (CET) which observed that year’s election, concluded, ‘We do not regard the credibility of these National elections as an issue: no elections can be credible when they are for a Parliament which does not have power and when political parties are banned’.

After the 2008 election the CET repeated its view that Swazi elections were not credible and called for Swaziland’s constitution to be rewritten to unban political parties and ‘ensure that Swaziland’s commitment to political pluralism is unequivocal’.

Since the 2008 election there have been many mass protests in Swaziland calling for the unbanning of political parties and other reforms.

These calls have been supported by international organisations. Among them is the International Commission of Jurists which says people in Swaziland have a fundamental right to form political parties.

At present the Swaziland Parliament has few powers. Of the 65 members of the House of Assembly, 10 are chosen by King Mswati and 55 are elected as individuals by the people. In the senate King Mswati chooses 20 of the 30 places. The other 10 are chosen by members of the House of Assembly. None are elected by the people.

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