Stories written by Mantoe Phakathi

Margaret Gamedze earns a living doing laundry for people in her community in Msunduza, Swaziland.  Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

Living on a Meal a Day in Swaziland

Margaret Gamedze earns a living doing laundry for people in her community in Msunduza Township, which lies about a kilometre outside Swaziland’s capital city of Mbabane. But since the country’s fiscal crisis began, she no longer earns enough to pay the rent for her one-roomed mud shack, which she shares with her five children.

Swaziland’s Cooperatives No Threat to Banks

Nomsa Tsabedze is one of the many people at the Bunye Betfu, Buhle Betfu Credit and Savings Cooperatives waiting to apply for a loan to pay for her children’s school fees.

SWAZILAND-SOUTH AFRICA: New Railway Line to Boost Economies

The 146-kilometre railway line to be established between South Africa and Swaziland will help reduce the cost of doing business between the two countries.

SWAZILAND: Small Loans for Young Entrepreneurs to Help Fight Crisis

While the Swazi economy is teetering on the brink of collapse, the government is banking on the future by providing funds to help young people set up businesses.

SWAZILAND: Processing Plant Threatens Water in Capital

A multi-million dollar iron-ore reprocessing plant in the northern part of Swaziland, owned by Indian mining company Salgaocar, is threatening the water security of local communities and even the country’s capital city, Mbabane.

Boricha village in Namibia, a biodiversity hotspot to be cleared to make way for a 10,000 hectare agricultural development.  Credit: Servaas van den Bosch/IPS

Civil Society Groups Call for Action to Curb Land Grabbing

Civil society organisations are calling on governments in developing countries to stop leasing and selling out land to transnational corporations because it leads to land degradation and food insecurity.

Yacouba Sawadogo, a peasant farmer from Burkina Faso, saved his arid land from desertification. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi

AFRICA: “The Man Who Stopped the Desert”

Yacouba Sawadogo, a peasant farmer from Burkina Faso, is known as the "man who stopped the desert." But when he first tried to save his arid land from desertification by planting the trees that have since grown into a 15-hectare forest, people in his village thought he was mad.

Ministry of Education and Training Principal Secretary Pat Muir (centre) said closing down schools until payment was made was not acceptable.  Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

SWAZILAND: No Fees No School

The future education of Swazi children remains uncertain, as public schools across the country have not reopened for the new term because government has not been able to pay for their upkeep.

University of Swaziland students. The university failed to open this term because of a lack of funds from government. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

SWAZILAND: Disagreement on How South African Loan Should be Spent

Despite the 2.4 billion emalangeni (342 million dollar) loan from the South African government to its cash-strapped neighbour, Swaziland is sinking deeper into debt.

Swazi lawyers delivering their complaint to the High court.  Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

SWAZILAND: Women and Children Bear Brunt of Lawyers’ Strike

The standoff between the Law Society of Swaziland and the Judicial Services Commission is negatively affecting women, and their children, who are seeking justice from abuse.

Information is one of the most important tools citizens need to make informed decisions, especially about education.  Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

SWAZILAND: Impossible for Children to Access Public Information

Many public officials in Swaziland do not think that access to information is a public right, but rather a privilege – which can be withdrawn at anytime.

SWAZILAND: Economic Crisis Means Short Supply of ARVs

Swaziland’s economic crisis has affected its ability to provide healthcare as the country’s buffer stock of antiretrovirals (ARVs) has fallen below the prescribed three-month supply.

Caroline Ndlovu is practicing water harvesting on her smallhold farm after bad rainfall.  Credit: Busani Bafan/IPS

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Trying to Access Funding for Climate Change

Leaving out non-governmental organisations in climate finance strategies will result in little impact on the ground in the southern Africa region.

A flood of obstacles ... Professor Mike Muller outlines the water challenges.  Credit: Marianne Pretorius/IPS

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Getting Water to the People

The Southern African region is underutilising its water – a resource to which its citizens already have limited access.

SWAZILAND: Girls Leave School Because of No Sanitary Wear

After a newspaper that Prudence* (16) used as sanitary wear fell from her while she played with friends at school, she left and never returned.

DEVELOPMENT: Swazi Village Tastes Sweet Success with Sugarcane

The previously impoverished community of Malibeni, previously ravaged by drought, is bustling with farmers who have transformed the area into a bread basket. Lush green fields of sugarcane and vegetables have replaced an expanse of dry shrubs near this community in northeastern Swaziland.

South Africa Key to Swazi Protest Outcome

Uneasy calm has returned to the streets of Manzini, Swazi commercial capital, after two days of heavy-handed police action against unions protesting government's handling of the financial crisis gripping the mountain kingdom.

Treatment supporter Zodwa Mhlabane talks to a patient. Credit:  Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

Twin Boost for TB Treatment in Swaziland

The fight against tuberculosis in Swaziland will be reinforced on two fronts this month. A new tool for the quick and accurate diagnosis of TB will begin its roll out and a monthly stipend for treatment supporters will help ensure patients get through the lengthy and unpleasant course of TB drugs.

Swaziland's health minister Benedict Xaba receiving donated medical supplies from UNICEF. Swaziland gets limited help of this nature. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

Swaziland’s Middle-Income Status Reflects Only King’s Lifestyle

While Swaziland struggles to alleviate its fiscal crisis with foreign aid because of its World Bank classification as a lower middle-income country, the government has increased the budget for King Mswati III, Africa’s last remaining absolute monarch and one of the richest royals in the world.

Protests against proposed wage cuts are combined with demands for a new government. Credit:  Mantoe Phakathi//IPS

Swazi Government Challenged

Swaziland's autocratic government is facing a growing challenge as a sharp decline in customs revenue forces budget cuts. Thousands of protesters brought the Swazi capital of Mbabane to a standstill Friday as they took to the streets to oppose imminent salary cuts to civil service wages - and demand changes to the country's government.

Workers during a recent protest in Mbabane about the Swaziland government's financial crisis. Credit: Mantoe Phakathi/IPS

AFRICA: Swaziland in Crisis as Customs Union Revenue Is Slashed

Apart from the looming job losses in Swaziland’s public sector, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have also warned of retrenchments following the government’s decision to suspend procurement from small businesses.

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