Schooling is not compulsory in Swaziland, but about 80% of children start in primary school. In 2009, 87% of the adult population (over 15 years) was estimated to be literate. The main objective of educational policy is to eliminate illiteracy and to adapt the content of education to the needs of different social groups. The compulsory school is seven years (from 6-13 years) and the upper secondary school lasts a maximum of five years. About one third of the pupils go on to the secondary school, where the proportion of girls decreases. Swaziland has a university with faculties for eg. agriculture, administration, economics and the humanities. Just over 8% of government spending is used for education (2008).
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In September 2008, «parliamentary elections» were held for the first time in the country’s history. Political parties continue to be banned, so all candidates stood for independence. In addition to the 55 seats that were up for election, the King appointed 10. The National Assembly subsequently elected 10 people to the Senate – and the King appointed 20.
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In October, King Barnabas appointed Sibusiso Dlamini as prime minister. Swaziland LO’s chairman, Jan Sithole, sharply criticized the appointment, explaining that in his last term as prime minister, Dlamini had worked to suppress political and popular organizations and to strengthen the power of the monarchy. He further accused Dlamini of contempt of the rule of law. Opposition leader Mario Masuku complemented and declared that Dlamini was not appointed because of his abilities, but solely because of his devotion to the king.
In June 2010, Zonke Dlamini and Bhekumusa Dlamini from an organization that in 2010 were banned under STA were arrested and tortured. In June/July, dozens of house searches were targeted at prominent democracy advocates, opposition and union leaders. In September, the Prime Minister declared that he was in favor of torture as a means of punishing “jealous aliens and dissidents”. The same month, the regime fought hard against demonstrations organized by the country’s trade union movement and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign. Dozens of foreign participants and organizers were arrested.
The repression against the opposition continued through 2011. Several demonstrations against the economic crisis were banned and culminated in September. The opposition had prepared a week of action against the political, economic and social situation in the country. The activities were supported by many professional organizations around the world. On 7 September, the Secretary-General of the South African LO (COSATU), Zingiswa Losi, was to speak at a demonstration in Siteki. The demonstration was attacked by security forces firing sharp shots, rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowd. Losi and COSATU’s international secretary, Zanele Matebula, were subsequently deported.
The month before, in August, South Africa had granted a loan of $ 355 million. US $ to Swaziland to alleviate the country’s economic problems but at the same time demanded political and economic reform. Requirements that were flatly rejected by the regime.
In March 2012, the country’s trade union movement declared it would call for a boycott of the planned parliamentary elections in 2013, unless the regime opened up and allowed a multi-party democracy.
Swaziland flag source: Countryaah.com
In April 2012, the regime struck against the top of the country’s trade union movement as it arrested the leaders of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA). In the same month, the IMF declared that it had ceased cooperation with Swaziland due to the country’s disastrous economic situation, the King’s continued over-consumption and unwillingness to conduct the IMF’s economic policy. During 2012, several trade unions that organized public servants carried out strikes in protest of falling wages. The discontent stretched so far that in October Parliament gave the government an unprecedented mistrust. The statement of distrust was ignored by the government. Freedom of speech and assembly are roughly suppressed and torture and degrading treatment is routinely used by the security police.