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.
According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Eswatini include Independence Day (September 6) and New Year (January 1). 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.