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 crisis.
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 the king.
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.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Mbabane is the capital of Swaziland which is located in Southern Africa. 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 were injured.
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.