Officially, Swazi opposition leader Gabriel Mkhumane died at the hands of criminals when he was shot dead in Nelspruit at the beginning of this month. But fellow opposition supporters reject the official explanation for his murder and believe that he was assassinated by government operatives.
Trade-union leaders in Swaziland have threatened more strikes to force Africa's last absolute monarchy to reform, arguing that the lack of democracy is crippling the economy. A two-day strike, the biggest in a decade, brought the tiny landlocked country to a standstill last week, and union leaders are threatening further stoppages.
Sugar production and textile manufacturing in Swaziland are on their way out, taking tens of thousands of jobs with them. Just how far Swaziland's employment figures have deteriorated is evidenced in research being carried out by the International Labour Organisation.
Swaziland's home-based caregivers are too few and too poorly paid to cope with the growing numbers of bedridden Aids patients, but in the absence of adequate health facilities and trained professionals, they are seen as the immediate answer to a national emergency.
How is a small country to compete in a global marketplace where size is rewarded? Case in point is the tiny Southern African country of Swaziland, nestled between geographic giants South Africa and Mozambique. Its neighbouring countries also have booming economies, while Swaziland is mired in its 10th year of declining economic growth.
While Swaziland's soaring HIV prevalence and the spending habits of King Mswati III are issues that often land the country in the headlines, problems also loom on another front: about a quarter of Swazis are currently dependent on international food aid. Just more than 100Â 000 tonnes of the staple food, maize, will have to be imported in the coming months
A new advertising campaign aimed at curtailing teenage HIV rates by promoting abstinence is using a combination of traditional and modern values in its appeal to Swazi youth. The SiSwati phrase "<i>Ngoba likusasa nelami</i> [because tomorrow is mine]" has been chosen as the theme of the initiative, which got under way with full-page advertisements in Swaziland's two national newspapers.
Aids has accelerated the death rate in Swaziland, causing home-based hospice care to expand into an entire support system for affected families. According to the health ministry, the country has the world's highest HIV prevalence rate, with 42,6% of its adult population infected. Fifteen years ago, hospice patients were primarily cancer victims; now a substantial number are HIV-positive.
Creating more business opportunities to counter rising unemployment is expected to take centre stage at an upcoming jobs summit in Swaziland. The summit, scheduled to take place in July, follows a pledge by King Mswati III to initiate a R1-billion public-private fund to bankroll the development of small- and medium-scale enterprises.