12 June 2017

Swaziland: Army Probes Self Over Corruption

The Swaziland Army is to investigate itself amid accusations of corruption in recruitment.

It is alleged that officers of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) - as the army is officially known - took bribes from recruits.

The latest round of recruitment has sparked widespread outcry and more than 40 recruits were expelled from the Mbuluzi Infantry School. It was said recruits had failed to prove that they used the legal route to be recruited into the military.

Among allegations circulating in newspapers in the kingdom is that top army officers were bribed. Families are reported to have sold livestock and other belongings to get their men in uniform.

The Swazi News reported in April 2017 that corrupt practices had been known about for several years, but this was the first time that recruits had been expelled.

The Times of Swaziland reported at the same time that recruits were shown the exit door from the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) Infantry School in Mbuluzi.

The Swazi Observer reported the army said action was taken following complaints from throughout Swaziland 'about abnormalities which happened during the recruitment exercises'.

In February 2017, during the recruitment drive it was reported that several men who tried to cheat during exercises were tortured by army personnel. The Army was recruiting 495 additional soldiers from across the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch.

According to a report in the Swazi Observer on Monday (5 June 2017), eight 'top recruiting officials' face dismissal from the force. It said they had been summoned to headquarters to answer allegations of bribery. One allegation is that they recruited their own relatives.

The newspaper reported, 'Some are said to have admitted bending the rules while some flatly denied [it].

The Army has refused to comment about the recruitment irregularities.

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