Swaziland. New figures during the year showed that
Swaziland's population decreased by about one-fifth to one
million since the last census in 1997. The cause was the
severe HIV epidemic. Swaziland has the world's highest
proportion of HIV-infected among the entire population, 26
percent. The prediction is that two-thirds of the country's
15-year-olds will die from AIDS unless the spread of
infection is slowed.
In August, more than 1,500 HIV-infected women staged a
protest demonstration against eight of King Mswati's
thirteen wives traveling with a companion for a costly
shopping trip abroad. The women condemned how tax money from
one of the world's poorest and sickest people was used.
Countryaah reports, the shopping trip took place prior to the celebration of
the country's 40-year independence in September, which
became an orgy in luxury for an estimated equivalent of
about SEK 80 million.
The monarchy dissolved the parliament for the September
elections. Political parties were banned and only individual
candidates were allowed to stand.
The election was surrounded by protests from unions and
banned opposition parties that demanded democracy with
multi-party systems. The election was described by
government critics as meaningless and even worse than in
Zimbabwe, as all parties were banned. Police arrested
Democratic activists who were planning a protest block near
the border with South Africa.
On election day, polling stations were guarded by armed
police. Voting was reported to be higher in rural areas,
where the king is more popular, than in cities where the
banned opposition has its strongest support. The banned
opposition movement PUDEMO (People's United Democratic
Movement) described the election as a shame and an attempt
to mislead international opinion.
After the election, Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini was
appointed new Prime Minister. The opposition considered that
Dlamini had been appointed for his loyalty to the king and
accused him of failing to rule out the rule of law during
his first term as head of government.
Shortly after the election, a failed bomb attack was
carried out at one of King Mswati's palace outside the
capital Mbabane. A Swazi activist and an activist from South
Africa were killed when they placed the bomb. According to
the government, PUDEMO had said it was behind the attempted
attack. PUDEMO leader Mario Masuko was arrested and the
first to be prosecuted under a new anti-terror law that
could provide 25 years in prison. Authorities claimed that
other bombs were found near railroads, bridges and roads.
According to the opposition, the attempted assault was a
result of widespread frustration over the ban on political