Swaziland. In early 2006, arrests of members of the
banned opposition movement PUDEMO (People's United
Democratic Movement) continued, which were accused of
participating in a series of fire bomb attacks against
police and government officials' homes last year. Among
those arrested were PUDEMO Secretary-General Bonginkhosi
Dlamini. The charges involved attempted murder and high
treason, crimes that could be punished with death. Relatives
of activists were also arrested, and according to PUDEMO,
the wife of one of the arrested men died when she was
tortured by police. The wave of arrests silenced the voices
of the opposition and many members of PUDEMO fled abroad.
CountryAAH, Swaziland's new constitution came into force in February.
It does not allow political parties.
In April, the border between Swaziland and South Africa
was blocked by activists from both countries who protested
against King Mswati's repression. South African police then
arrested a large number of people, and eight people were
reported to have been injured when the police allegedly
opened fire with rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
Over 40% of the sexually active population was estimated
to be HIV-infected, but only a small proportion had access
to brake medication or hospital care in any form. Thousands
of volunteers care for the sick at home. About 70,000 poor
and orphaned children, many with parents who have died of
AIDS, have received support for schooling by the state. But
in June, the teachers' union warned that these children
might be shut down because the government had not paid their
expenses and the schools were in financial crisis.
According to the ILO (International Labor Organization),
sugar production and textile production have declined
sharply in Swaziland in recent years, resulting in the loss
of 30,000 to 40,000 jobs since 2002.
The Opposition Umbrella Organization The National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) managed during the latter part
of the year to establish the first talks between the
government and groups demanding political change. The NCA
had then criticized the new constitution and conducted a
protest march to King Mswati's palace, where a petition was
submitted. But talks between the government and the NCA were
interrupted when the government side invited officers from
the security service to participate. According to NCA, this
happened to scare NCA's representatives.