Swaziland. The undemocratic regime's oppression of
political dissent continued, and there were signs of
frustration in the regime over the growing popularity of the
opposition among the population. The police were suspected
of faking a series of fire bomb attacks, which were then
used as grounds for arresting members of political parties
and trade unions. The arrested were charged with terrorism.
COUNTRYAAH, about 50 people were arrested by police ahead of a
planned protest against the regime in September. They were
later released and the demonstration was conducted in the
country's commercial center Manzini with demands for
democratization. South African union activists were
prevented from participating in the demonstration and
Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini said after the protest
that dissidents and foreigners who settled in Swaziland's
affairs should be punished with the traditional sipakatane,
or bastinado, footwear bull. It means breaking the soles of
your feet with a nail board. The opposition demanded that
the government take back the statement and labeled it as a
declaration of war against both Swaziland and foreigners.
Africa's grandmothers called themselves a group that
gathered in Swaziland in May to discuss how HIV and AIDS
affected their lives. Grandmothers and grandmothers have
been forced to bear a heavy burden in Africa's AIDS
disaster, when they have taken responsibility for orphaned
grandchildren. The conference, which gathered around 500
women from 13 sub-Saharan countries, hoped to create a
solidarity movement for Africa's maternal and grandmothers.
Over 70 percent of the world's HIV and AIDS victims are in
sub-Saharan Africa, and Swaziland has the highest HIV/AIDS
incidence in the world. More than 42 percent of all pregnant
women are reported to be HIV-infected. AIDS activists were
upset when one of the King's top advisers stated that the
extent of the country's HIV epidemic is exaggerated in favor
of the drug companies.
Swaziland's highest court declared in a ruling in May
that the government is not obliged to provide free schooling
in the low school, even though this is provided for in the
constitution. According to the court, free schooling is
dependent on existing resources, but human rights
organizations have argued that the government violates human
rights when students have to pay fees and when those who
cannot afford to pay are suspended from school. Four out of
ten families in Swaziland live below the poverty line, while
the absolute monarch and his court are wallowing in luxury.
In August, the country's Justice Minister resigned after
being accused of having a sexual relationship with one of
King Mswati's 13 wives.