Swaziland: As Coronavirus Deaths Rise, Swaziland Royal Family Remain Indifferent, New Review Finds

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in Swaziland intensified, the numbers of positive cases and deaths rose. Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini died of the virus. He had an underlying diabetes condition.

Large numbers of people ignored the Swazi Government's lockdown regulations to try to curb the spread of coronavirus. As in the past, police and other security forces violently attacked those who did not obey orders.

These are some of the main stories from Swaziland over the past three months and contained in Swaziland: Striving for Freedom, volume 40, a compilation of reports posted from October to December 2020 on the Swazi Media Commentary website.

Despite the rise in the death toll, members of the Swazi Royal Family continued their lavish lifestyles. Video of the Prince Majaha being showered with cash at his 30th birthday party was widely distributed on the Internet.

King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch, appointed at least nine members of his family to top positions in government and on influential committees. In 2018, following national elections at which political parties were banned, he appointed 36 members of his family to top posts.

Elsewhere, the World Food Programme (WFP) helped feed 109,449 people in a month, about one in ten of the population, as hunger continued to grip the kingdom. Separately, Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku revealed one in three people were in need of immediate food aid.

The kingdom's universities and college were once again in turmoil as the government failed to pay students allowances and more than 1,500 of them were refused scholarships.

There were again reports of community police officers abusing their power and physically assaulting suspects. Also, armed riot police used teargas and rubber bullets to break up a peaceful gathering called to 'clean-up' a township and arrest its leaders.

Swazi Media Commentary is published online, updated most weekdays. It is operated entirely by volunteers and receives no financial backing from any organisation. It is devoted to providing information and commentary in support of human rights in Swaziland.

Swaziland Striving for Free... by Richard Rooney

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