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.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Eswatini has a population of 1.136 million (2018). 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 deported.
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.