Swaziland. At the beginning of the year, the police
stopped the trade union movement TUCOSWA (Trade Union
Congress of Swaziland) from holding their meetings. More
than 300 civilian-clad police officers were reported to have
dissolved a board meeting in which the secretary general of
the teachers' union was injured. The authorities have long
refused to register TUCOSWA. An alliance of churches urged
the regime to register TUCOSWA as a step toward multi-party
democracy and attacks on the country's social and economic
Later in the year, TUCOSWA was awarded the prestigious
international George George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights
Award for the "courage and endurance" of Swaziland workers
in the demands for their rights in one of the world's most
dictatorial countries. Political parties are not allowed to
take part in elections, and the government is appointed by
In April, the government and the judiciary were shaken
when the Minister of Justice and two judges in the Supreme
Court were arrested by police. Disputed Chief Judge Michael
Ramodibedi would also be arrested but entrenched himself in
his luxury residence. The Minister of Justice was accused of
corruption and dismissed by the king. The arrested judges
were charged with obstruction of justice.
COUNTRYAAH, the Anti-Corruption Commission brought charges against
Chief Judge Ramodibedi for, among other things, abuse of
power. Ramodibedi was dismissed but allowed to leave the
country after the prosecution against him was dropped.
After Ramodibedi was dismissed, human rights lawyer
Thulani Maseko and The Nations editor Bheki Makhubu were
released the year before being jailed for court clashes.
Their case had previously been dealt with by one of the
arrested judges, and they were now said to have been
convicted on erroneous grounds. Maseko and Makhubu had been
arrested when they criticized the judicial system in general
and the chief judge in particular.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court against the bail released
the leader of the prohibited opposition party PUDEMO, Mario
Masuku, and the secretary general of PUDEMO's youth
federation. They had been arrested the year before when they
demanded democratic reforms at the first May celebration.
They had been prosecuted under an anti-terror law that was
criticized for being a tool to silence any debate about
democratization of society.
The dismissed Justice Minister was indicted for trying to
bribe several judges, including the former chief judge, in
favor of a company that was in a major tax dispute with
Swaziland's tax office.
In August, 38 young women were reported killed in an
accident involving several trucks carrying passengers on the
van. The girls were on their way to an annual ceremony,
where the king would appoint a new wife among the thousands
of young women gathered for dance. According to official
data, eleven casualties were claimed in the accident, but
according to other sources, 38 girls were killed and many
In November, information came about that King Mswati paid
for a disputed jet which was allegedly a gift from anonymous
benefactors. According to a legal investigation in Canada,
Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini would have hidden the truth
and the plane for over $ 22 million, at least in part, from
a company owned by King Mswati himself.