UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
SWAZILAND NEWS ONLINE/SWAZILAND NEWS ONLINE/SWAZILAND
First Edition of our newsletter from the Kingdom of
4 May 1998
to Swaziland News
A bi-monthly update of news from
THREE HEADS OF STATE SET TO UNVEIL MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR DEVELOPMENT
A E75-million casino resort over-looking the spectacular Josini/ Pongolapoort dam and a E25-million lodge in the Mlawula-Hlane game reserve are just some of Swazilandís proposed anchor projects set to be unveiled at the launch of the Lubombo spatial development initiative in Durban this week.
The initiative, scheduled to be opened by King Swazi III, South African president, Nelson Mandela and Mozambican president, Joaquim Chissano, on Wednesday, plans to transform the Swaziland lowveld and KwaZulu Natalís poorest and most neglected area into a tourism destination on par with Mount Kenya, Victoria Falls and the Kruger National Park. The SDI, which straddles South Africaís international borders with Mozambique and Swaziland, will offer international tourists a combination of beach, mountain, game reserve and cultural tourism products in an integrated "surf & turf" package.
Although only the third of South Africaís eight planned spatial developments to get off the drawing board, the Lubombo SDI is already being touted as the best researched and packaged initiative of its sort. Unlike the neighbouring Maputo Corridor linking Gautengís industrial powerhouse to Maputo harbour through Mpumalanga, the Lubombo initiative focuses exclusively on new tourism and agricultural development.
Proposed anchor projects, all on State or community land, include a possible E10-million Lubombo mountain lodge in the Ndzindza section of the Mlawula game reserve, a new E10-million Sand River dam game reserve and series of agricultural projects in the lowveld.
Similar staggered developments are planned for South Africaís largest fresh-water lake system at Lake Sibayi and the unique fish-kraals at Kosi Bay, where the Crane Hotel Group have just received the go-ahead for a E30-million, 40-bed hotel overlooking the Kosi estuary. A E50-million hotel, flanked by four smaller luxury developments will also be built in the newly declared World Heritage site at the St Lucia Wetland Reserve north of Durban. Related developments have also been designed for the renovated Mozambican holiday town of Ponto do Oura, where a Club-Med style resort will serve both Kosi Bay and the worldís biggest planned game reserve just north of the town.
Although not part of the Lubombo SDI, the US$600-million reserve being developed by American precious metal tycoon, James Ulysses Blanchard III, will be packaged as part of the Lubombo tourism destination.
All developments are expected to be private sector driven and South Africaís government has only pledged to build the transport infrastructure and bulk services necessary to support rapid development. Construction has already begun on a R180-million ëtourism roadí along the coast from Hluhluwe to Ponto do Oura in Mozambique and on to Maputo City.
The road has opened up previously untapped secondary tourism and agriculture opportunities, including cashew nut, palm wine, citrus estates, currently estimated to be worth at least R935,7-million.
The opportunities have been packaged in a detailed investment portfolio, setting out precise project profiles, along with contact details, existing assets, cost estimates and preliminary business plans. Lubombo project manager, Andrew Zaloumis, stresses however that interested investors will only be able to register for pre-qualification selection for the SDIís anchor projects at the launch on Wednesday.
Detailed pre-qualification documents will be released for the first selection of bidders in June. Two months will be allowed for investors to consider the projects until early August, when a bidderís conference will be staged and full tender documents will be launched.
"Weíve deliberately opted for a more cautious approach than in the Wild Coast and Maputo Corridor initiatives to avoid raised expectations. Weíre putting more preliminary planning into our proposals and including specifically packaged opportunities for investors," said Zaloumis.
"King Mswati and President Mandela will, essentially, be announcing our two stage investment process this week and signing a tri-national memorandum of understanding."
The memorandum, co-signed with presidents Chissano, Mandela and King Mswati III, will pave the way for a series of planned regional protocols for dropping border controls and standardising tourism legislation.
The SDIís multi-national character is, however, also its weakness.
Although Mozambican planners have risen to the challenge, they are hamstrung by incredibly tight budgets and havenít yet been able to begin construction on the Mozambican leg of the envisioned highway to Maputo City. Mozambique industry and commerce minister, Oldemiro Baloi, conceded last month that alternative funding models such as toll-roads or donor grants would have to be looked at.
It is Swaziland, however, that is dragging behind it two bigger neighbours, with planners battling their way through a maze of bureaucracy and jurisdiction disputes. And Swaziland has not yet begun any concrete infrastructure projects.
Seven national ministers from South Africaís neighbours will also speak at the launch on Wednesday, where home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi will detail how border restrictions for tourists could be relaxed.
1. VOTER REGISTRATION FOR OCTOBER GENERAL ELECTIONS STARTS THIS MONTH
Public voter registration for the upcoming general elections will begin in May and will run concurrently with a concerted voter education programme to explain the purpose of the October general elections to Swaziland residents.
Chief Electoral Officer Robert Thwala confirmed last week that there were still a number of small administrative hitches in the proposed registration system but assured that they would be resolved by May 5.
He added that election officials would draw substantially on the technical experiences of election systems in neighbouring South Africa, where massive registration and education programmes were conducted in the run-up to that countryís first democratic elections in 1994.
Both South Africa and neighbouring Mozambique are also currently gearing up for general elections early next year, while Swaziland will go to the polls in October.
2. KING FINALLY APPROVES NEW 400KV POWER LINE THROUGH SWAZILAND
King Mswati III has finally given the go-ahead for a 400KV power-line to be constructed connecting Swaziland to Maputo (Mozambique) and to South Africa. South African electricity utility company, ESKOM, has been negotiating for permission to construct the power supply line through Swaziland for almost three years.
The new bulk supply line is designed to feed the multi-billion US-Dollar ALUSAF aluminium smelter in Maputo but will also significantly boost industrial capacity in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
Swazilandís Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy says permission was also granted for construction of a sub-station at Dwaleni, a few kilometres from the Matsapha Industrial Site where most of Swazilandís power is consumed. Swaziland will extract all its ESKOM electricity from the supply line at the new sub-station ñ which is on a farm owned by the king.
The siting of the sub-station was influenced, a government report says, by its proximity to the countryís industrial heart at Matsapha.
3. E25-MILLION CONTRACT AWARDED ON MAGUGU DAM PROJECT
The joint water commission for the trans-national Maguga Dam project awarded contracts worth R25-million for advance infrastructure last week, the Swaziland government announced last week. Swazilandís national resources and energy ministry said in a statement on Monday that Grinaker Construction won the lionís share of the contracts through the award of a R20-million tender to build a bridge over the Komati River.
The contracts, announced at the commissionís 38th formal meeting, include tenders to Wilson Bayly Holmes Ovcon (WBHO) to build a R2-million office complex for the projectís administrators at the dam site. Other contracts include tenders to supply fixtures and plumbing in staff accommodation complexes and smaller infrastructure project contracts. The statement added that Swaziland prime minister, Dr Barnabas Dlamini, will officially open a three-day Magugu Dam workshop on the projected environmental impact of the various construction projects at the Pigg's Peak Protea Hotel.
The meeting is designed to introduce the various regulating agencies in Swaziland and South Africa to each other and gauge concerns from interested and affected parties. The projectís own environmental consultants will also table reports on studies outlining expected impacts on the areaís fauna and flora, natural resources, archeology and ground water quality.
4. BLUNDER FORCES CANCELLATION OF SIGNING CEREMONY AT LAST MINUTE
Government officials are still red-faced and tightlipped after a series of blunders forced them to cancel the signing of a multi-million US-Dollar loan agreement between Taiwan and Swaziland this week. The agreement would have released funds from Taiwan for the construction of two vital international roads to upgrade Swazilandís transport links with neighbouring South Africa. The ceremony at Swazilandís Ministry of Finance was cancelled after Taiwan complained that a number of pre-qualification requirements had not been met and that Finance officials had also not yet completed implementing a series of controls.
Finance minister, Themba Masuku, declined to specify exactly what had gone wrong and would only say that the matter was an internal affair. He gave the assurancethat the government would immediately rectify errors. The two stalled roads to be funded through the agreement will link Oshoek Border Post with Mbabane and upgrade the Luyengo Border Post road to Sicunusa. Both roads are expected to cost in excess of E50-million each.
The agreement forms part of Taiwanís ëJoint Technical and Economic Assistanceí to Swaziland.
5. GAME WARDENS REFUSE GEOLOGISTS ENTRY TO RESERVE
Game wardens and officials at Malolotja Game Reserve refused to allow a survey team from the department of Geological Survey and Mines into the reserve this week.
The team has been ordered to conduct a study on the mining of Green Chert stone within the reserve, to the consternation of conservationists and tourism entrepreneurs alike. Insisting that all visitors to the reserve obey entry procedures, the wardens pointed out that the survey team had failed to obtain an entry permit and therefore turned them back.
The team represents the Taiwanese based company, Michael Lee Enterprise which was granted a controversial mining license by the government to extract Chert from a number of areas within the reserve. Swazilandís National Trust Commission (SNTC) is fighting the license and has cited Section 23 of the SNTC Act of 1973, which prohibits digging, mining or excavation in any of the kingdomís proclaimed nature reserves.
SNTC chief executive officer, Sinaye Mamba, however caved in to government pressure last week and granted Michael Lee Enterpriseís permission to begin a geological study on the possibility of mining Chert in the reserve.
Mamba said he was forced to grant permission for the study after receiving a letter from Tourism, Environment and Communications minister, Musa Nkambule, ordering SNTC to give "access to Michael Lee Enterprise to enter the nature reserve to conduct the scientific study as agreed, following a resolution from the Prime Minister, Dr. Sibusiso Dlamini's office". "I wish you will appreciate the fact that such an instruction is not negotiable and has to be adhered to as stated".
Senior Warden at Malolotja, Richard Boycott, said in a public interview last week, however, that the prospectors will not be allowed to take any samples, erect beacons, or camps without specific permission and a stipulated time frame.
6. SWAZILANDíS ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION PLAN LAUNCHED
The Government has launched five committees tasked with implementing the kingdomís Environmental Action Plan. Principal secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Communications, Mduduzi Magongo, said on Tuesday that it took 18 months to formulate the action plan and get cabinet approval.
The committees will target capacity building for effective environmental management; environmental education, public awareness and participation; management and use of biodiversity, resource management for increased productivity; and waste management pollution and environmental health. They will meet once every two months to monitor and evaluate their progress.
7. ONLY 30% OF TV VIEWERS IN SWAZILAND PAY LICENSES
South Africaís national broadcaster isnít the only regional public television parastatal having difficulty convincing its viewers to pay their TV licenses despite aggressive marketing campaigns.
A report by Swazilandís public enterprises unit said on Friday that only 30 percent of viewers in Swaziland pay licenses, resulting in a R1,3-million operation loss for the Swaziland Television Authority (STVA). The shortfall is 13,5 percent up on similar figures last year, due mainly to a fall in advertising revenue, the report said.
Attributing the advertising decline to nationwide labour unrest and a shortage of decent programming on the broadcaster, the report adds that the reservation of prime broadcast slots for official government announcements also discouraged private sector advertising. Noting that advertising currently only accounted for 61 percent of STVAís budget, it stressed that this was set to improve after the broadcaster signed a contract with Warner Brothers for better quality programmes.
The better quality programmes are expected to draw more viewers and therefore more advertising. STVA is also about to implement tighter internal managerial and financial controls and will reinforce its aggressive license collection drive. The unit advised Swazilandís government though that it should continue to push for a wider review of operating policies at the parastatal and also restructure STVAís operational structure to enhance revenue-earning capacity.
8. SWAZILAND PENSIONERS ACCUSED OF FLOODING S.A. CLINICS
The social welfare system in Swazilandís neighbouring South African province of Mpumalanga is reportedly being placed under severe strain by thousands of Swaziland pensioners who flood across the borders every month-end to illegally collect South African pensions, said that provinceís health MEC, Candith Mashego, last week.
The province is also battling to maintain its "swamped" clinics in areas bordering Swaziland and Mozambique because citizens of both neighbouring countries regularly sneak across the border to use free or subsidised services, she added. Mashegoís finance counterpart, Jacques Modipane, told Mpumalangaís portfolio committee on finance earlier last week that the province was threatened by a pension shortfall despite a 16,8% increase in the R967-million pension budget because of illegal border crossers.
"Thereís just no way that we can control the Swaziland pensioners from crossing because many of them have apparently legal South African identity books," he explained. The pensioners reportedly use South African residents or family living in the former KaNgwane homeland in Mpumalanga to obtain legal identity books, which they then use to register for pension.
Border post officials have begun marking elderly travellers from Swaziland with invisible fluorescent ink during periods near pension payout days. All applicants at pension payout points are then checked to ensure that they havenít been marked. Pensioners with the ink on their hands are immediately deported but are not charged.
Neither Modipane nor Mashego could say how much money Mpumalanga was losing to the foreign pensioners but insisted that the amounts were significant.
9. ODDITIES AND CURIOUSITIES FROM AFRICAíS LAST ABSOLUTE MONARCHY
9.A. THREE STUDENTS EXPELLED IN LESBIAN SCANDAL
Three students at Ndzingeni Nazarene High School, in the small casino town of Piggs Peak were expelled from the schoolís boarding hostel earlier this month for allegedly "practising lesbian acts".
The kingdomís government-owned daily newspaper, The Swazi Observer, reported in shock and outrage that "lesbians are woman who engage in sexual relationships with each other".
The education department and school authorities have launched an internal investigation to determine whether any other girls are also "engaging in such activity". The Swazi Observer reports that the three unnamed girls were "expelled as it is feared they could encourage their colleagues to engage in this habit".
9.B. SWAZILAND ADVERTISES FOR A HANGMAN
Swaziland is having difficulty finding an official hangman to execute the 15 criminals currently on death row in the small kingdom and may be forced to ask the South African government to loan it a hangman. The kingdomís last hangman, who may not be named but who was also a South African, "disappeared without a trace" in the mid-1980s.
Urgent adverts from the ministry of justice said last month that the government was seeking a "brave young man who has what it takes" to start immediately and help relieve the growing pressure on maximum-security facilities at Matsapha Prison. Swaziland justice minister, Chief Maweni Simelane, stressed that the kingdom had all the required equipment for executions at Sidwashini Prison and that the sudden upsurge in death sentences delivered by courts had forced the government to "revive" the practice of hanging criminals.
"Weíve never actually officially dropped the practice but no criminals were sentenced to death by our courts since the last hangman ran off. Itís just recently that the courts have started imposing the death sentence again," said Chief Maweni. He confirmed that the last state executioner was a ëforeignerí but refused to name the man who apparently simply walked out of his job without telling anyone sometime after King Sobhuza II died in 1982.
Maweni said that the hangman was allegedly frustrated after being told that he had to suspend all hangings for at least four years until a new king had been inaugurated. Swazilandís king is the only person in the kingdom empowered to authorise death sentences. King Mswati III was crowned in 1986, four years after his fatherís death.
Swazilandís public prosecution director, Musa Ntsibande, added that the kingdomís last execution was in 1983, when high profile Mbabane businesswoman, Phillipa Mdluli, was hanged for the ritual murder of her domestic servantís son. The 15 inmates on death row have all been convicted for murder and armed robberies where violence was involved.
From: AfricaNN@inform-bbs.dk (Africa_news Network) Date: Mon, 04 May 1998 18:20:07 +0200 Subject: SWAZILAND NEWS ONLINE #1 Message-ID: <email@example.com>
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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