The Botswana National Front (BNF) has rubbished the appointment of Swaziland’s King Mswati III as the Southern African Development Community Chairperson.
The Swazi king was appointed SADC chair at the recent SADC 36th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government held in his country.
BNF, which is a senior partner in the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition, bemoaned the restrictions on democratic ideals in the HIV and Aids ravaged Kingdom.
A statement released by BNF read in part: “Currently, there is no constitutional democracy in Swaziland. Political parties remain banned in that country. King Mswati and his Queen mother Ntombi have absolute authority over the judiciary, legislature and cabinet.”
It further continued to state, “several trade unionists, journalists and other civil society activists have been harassed, tortured, beaten, arbitrarily arrested, imprisoned and some without trial and worse some killed under mysterious circumstances with no action being taken against the known security agents.”
BNF continued to state that it condemns the handover of the chairmanship to a leader who has poor and embarrassing human rights credentials and “calls on local progressive trade unions, media houses and the general civil society to join it in condemning the handing over of the SADC Chairpersonship to Swaziland.”
The continent’s last absolute monarch took over the SADC chairmanship from Khama, whose one year term had come to an end. Khama himself inherited the chairmanship from Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
At the beginning of Khama’s term, continental pundits were analysing that his tenure at SADC was signaling the time when the bloc was being gifted “some long-sought teeth to reject dictatorships, rights abuses and electoral fraud in the sub-region.”
But, however, in his time as chairman of the regional bloc, Khama will mostly be remembered for coaxing Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili in a closed door discussion, to receive a damning report on the assassination of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Brigadier General Maaparankoe Mahao.
Mosisili was refusing to receive the SADC commissioned report on the basis that there was a case before the courts back at home against the appointed commission led by Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi. Ironically, it had been Mosisili who had sought SADC intervention amidst the uncertainty that engulfed his nation after General Mahao’s shock assassination.
Mahao was shot and killed on the way from his farm mid last year by a crack team of fellow army comrades, allegedly on basis of the allegation that he was ring leader of a plot to oust LDF command.
Mswati, whose country has for so long been reliant on donor funding reportedly remarked in his acceptance speech that: "SADC and the African continent as a whole had relied too much on donors and some of the projects had failed to take off when partners had no money. This calls for the region to remain united and to speak with one voice at all times,"
He has further reportedly pledged that his kingdom will start a SADC university.
"The kingdom of Swaziland wishes to dedicate the establishment of a SADC University of Transformation, which will be our next milestone in our journey which started in 1990. The university will deliver in education and training terms, using the technical vocational training model of delivery," Mswati was quoted as saying
The socialist and republican Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) has been the most vocal anti-Swazi monarchy since its formation in 1983 at University of Swaziland (UNISWA).
The party was banned in 2008 after the enactment of The Suppression of Terrorism Act and some of its leadership has largely been based in neighbouring South Africa ever since.
When PUDEMO Vice President, Gabriel Nkhumane was killed in 2008, suspicion was flying thick and fast that he had been victim of Swazi security apparatus. Nkhumane had been at the time one of the key organisers of the annual blockade of goods to Swaziland from South Africa,an annual blockade aimed at choking Mswati’s economy.
The Minister of Justice, Machana Shamukuni says the search to appoint the Ombudsman and other critical heads of department is currently ongoing and the process is expected to be completed before end of the year.
The Ombudsman position fell vacant almost five months ago after Augustine Makgonatsotlhe was removed from the office and appointed as Ambassador to Kuwait.
Two Batswana nationals have been arrested in Zimbabwe for illegal trade in mercury. The duo is being held together with a Zimbabwean national who is being questioned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
This publication understands that the suspects who are aged between 39 and 56 years hail from Tutume and Selebi-Phikwe. At the time of the arrest, they were found in possession of a pistol, bomb motor and four live rounds. It is understood that the suspects told investigators during interrogation that the deadly substance has a lucrative market in Far East countries, where the demand is high. It is further reported that the suspects claimed that the mercury can be easily accessed in mines through middleman.
The Namibian Lives Matter Movement has weighed in on the looming border dispute between their country and Botswana.
Commenting on reports that the Namibian Parliament has dispatched a committee along the border between the two countries on fact finding mission, the group commended“the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, De-fence and Security that will engage community members living along the Namibia Botswana Border in conducting public hearings into acts of aggression and brutality by Botswana Defence (BDF) Force against innocent and unarmed Namibians.”