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The struggle for democracy in Swaziland

Two speeches by leaders of the Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO -- Swaziland's liberation movement) on the developing struggle for democracy and social justice in the small southern African country of Swaziland. Mario Masuku is president of PUDEMO; Bongani Masuku is a former secretary general of the Swaziland Solidarity Network and is the Congress of South African Trade Unions' international secretary.

* * *

 

The historical and current political situation in Swaziland: What has been done and what remains to be done

By Mario Masuku

On behalf of the fighting people of Swaziland, dear comrades, please receive warm and fraternal greetings from the oppressed masses of our country. Our country stands on the brink of disaster, a catastrophe that has become accepted by some as beyond redemption, for its magnitude runs deeper than the source of the mighty volcanic eruptions.

This revolutionary gathering is a fitting tribute to the great work and contribution of our assassinated stalwart, leader and outstanding cadre of PUDEMO, the late Dr Gabriel T. Mkhumane. From where I am, I can already see where he could be seated, were he among us today, a seat that is still not occupied, for few among us would dare fit the shoes of such a great legend.

The more things change, the more they remain the same, words of wisdom have always echoed. Since 1973, so many things have happened to the lives of the people of Swaziland, but all those things have not changed the quality of life of the people for the better.

We do not seek to speak narrowly on behalf of our selves, but to acknowledge the massive contribution we have made together as progressive forces in our country, including all our comrades from Swaziland present here today.

We also appreciate unreservedly the support from our South African comrades, particularly from the Alliance [African National Congress, South African Communist Party, Congress of South African Trade Unions], who have done all in their power to raise the issue of Swaziland, much to the annoyance of certain forces who believe that Swaziland should still belong to some 17th century archive or political museum, as a source of tourist attractions and academic interests for European anthropologists keen on studying how 17th century Africa looked, a classical example of backwardness and primitive social relations of the worst order, with no regard for human dignity, of women in particular.

Since the first march and blockade against the Swazi regime, we have made great strides, but have also suffered setbacks and this moment provides a great space for deeper reflection on all these for a renewed push forward.

Should it not be of interest to all of us that in our region we have a country that has evaded the powerful media screens, the academic freedom train of political scientists and all the world’s watchdogs who should be ashamed of their witting or unwitting silence and failure to uncover more than 35 years of legalised political fraud in the name of Swazi culture and tradition.

But why should a fast-evolving world of information super highways and governance systems on a global scale afford to tolerate the longest state of emergency in the region, and most probably on the continent as a whole. These are the questions we should pose to our governments, multilateral institutions of governance in our region and continent, as well as beyond. But even more uncomfortably, we must also pose them to ourselves. Should we be pardoned, for we did not know, or we did not see or we just choose silence, for it is golden sometimes and more convenient than the sacrifice that comes with challenging things.

Background to the crisis in Swaziland

Swaziland was a British colony until 1968 when an arrangement of convenience was made between the colonialists and the local traditional leadership under the monarchy for a settlement that would comfortably accommodate both forces in some form of partnership, that would not upset the conditions designed by colonialism, but only integrate a few among the historically oppressed in the form of the monarchy and its appendages. This is what is usually referred to as ``independence'', which in less than a month from now will be costing the Swazi taxpayers millions to “celebrate” together with the birthday of the king, popularly known as the 40/40, as both are marking their 40th anniversary.

In 1973, the king proclaimed a decree that banned political parties and criminalised all forms of political activity, which paved the way for the monopoly over public affairs and politics by the royal family and their friends, a case that holds to this day. We have a royal family that regards all of us as mere objects of exploitation, oppression and the satisfaction of its greedy interests, disguised as our national pride and culture.

The luxury of elections is too farfetched for our people. Since 1973, the whole nation has never seen what it is like to participate in free and democratic elections, where you can openly contest, freely persuade people, be openly scrutinised and, finally, be held accountable for your promises.

Even when Southern African Development Community (SADC -- the regional grouping of Southern African contries] adopted the protocol of guidelines on the conduct of democratic elections, we raised our eyebrows that a new glimmer of hope was emerging on the horizon; guess what, we were to yet learn the mechanics of reality that, the nearer we get, the further we move away from our final destination.

Having considered all the factors above and seeking to characterise the ruling system in Swaziland, we can safely say, despite resistance from some quarters, that the tinkhundla system is and remains a neocolonial and semi-feudal system, founded on the premise of the exclusion of the overwhelming majority of our people, because of a royal regime that has failed to transform society and the economy to serve the interests of the people, but instead integrated itself as an extension and corrupt elite into the well-oiled system of accumulation already in place then.

A brief balance sheet of the socioeconomic profile of Swaziland

• Swaziland has the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world, which is now at 38% from around 40%.

• Swaziland has one of the highest levels of inequality between the rich and poor, with wealth being unevenly distributed.

• The economy is no longer growing, but has stagnated and has, in fact, been going down every year since around 2000.

• The abuse of women is ``dressed in nice gowns'' and called Swazi ``tradition and culture'', which undermines the rich heritage in our true culture, thus serving the narrow selfish interests of a royal minority.

• About 70% of the population live below the US$1 a day and more 300,000 of Swaziland's around 1 milion citizens depend on food aid as means for survival.

• The bulk of the economy is now based on the informal sector, and on casual and contract labour, which provide very insecure jobs and pay very low.

• More than 52% of the total income of the Swazi government is derived from the Southern African Customs Union pool, and were this not so, and our reliance on the South African rand (to which the Swazi currency is pegged), inflation would be in the double-digit figures.

The economy of Swaziland is centred around the royal family and its friends. Cabinet dances to whatever tune that sung by the master; recently the royal family received funds and aid and distributed it through the king, queen mother, princes and princesses, in order to be perceived as benevolent and caring for the poor and suffering, while they are the primary cause of the hunger experienced by our people. Balancing these handouts with the extravagant expenditure by this family on itself is like chasing a wild goose.

A new constitution or a revised 1973 king’s draconian decree

In his proclamation to the nation, the monarchy on April 12, 1973 said:

"Now, therefore I, Sobhuza 11, king of Swaziland, hereby declare that, in collaboration with my cabinet ministers and supported by the whole nation, I have assumed supreme power in the kingdom of Swaziland and that all legislative, executive and judicial powers is now vested in myself and shall, for the meantime be exercised in collaboration with my cabinet ministers. I further declare that to ensure the continued maintenance of peace, order and good government, my armed forces have been posted to all strategic places and have taken charge of all government places and all public services. All political parties and similar bodies that cultivate and bring about disturbances and ill-feelings within the nation are hereby dissolved and prohibited."

Many spectators have convinced themselves that this decree has ceased to be the foundation of the ruling political architecture of our country. Our view is that it still continues to be the force behind the establishment. The new constitution is rather a reinforcement and further entrenchment of this decree and its fundamental provisions.

The royal regime, in response to the pressures of our people’s struggles, tried a hasty constitutional review process in which it was the player, the referee and the match commissioner at the same time and all we were privileged to be was spectators in a game we were supposed to be the players.

This is why we rejected the process and its outcomes with the contempt it deserved and still maintain that no shortcuts will take Swaziland to the promised land of milk and honey, but only a protracted, honest and all-inclusive process leading to a multiparty democratic constitutional dispensation will deliver us to the land of our dreams.

That is why the Swazi constitution reaffirms the fundamental perspectives of banning political parties and all forms of political activity, frustrating the popular aspirations of the whole population and undermining the supremacy of the rule of law. Such an arrangement will not take us forward.

Undemocratic elections or elections without democracy

In the circumstances in Swaziland, what are the possibilities of holding free, fair and democratic elections that should constitute the basis of a legitimately acceptable outcome and whose product could be the express will of the people?

We have, time and again, affirmed the centrality of a process that will lead to a democratic outcome for our country, in many documents, such as the “Way Forward to a Constituent Assembly Through a Negotiated Settlement” and the “Road Map to a New and Democratic Swaziland”, which fundamentally outline the essence of our alternative route out of the mess tinkhundla has plunged our country into.

The regime has once again, as expected, defied all logic and organised an electoral process that lacks even the most basic semblance of democratic participation. To test its authenticity and claims for a free democratic space, as PUDEMO we held our rally to commemorate our 25th anniversary in Manzini on the July 6, 2008, and four of our leaders were arrested and brutalised, while other comrades were hospitalised as a result of police brutality. Further, it has been made clear beyond doubt that political parties remain banned and illegal, which means they cannot contest the coming elections.

The following conditions obtain as regards elections:

• Political parties remain banned.

• The media, judiciary and all public institutions remain tightly in the monopoly of the royal family and its friends and are used to criminalise political parties as divisive, fomenting war and are described as ``unSwazi''.

• Traditional institutions and structures continue to be vehicles of intimidation and abuse, agitating against democratic practices.

• Parliament has no powers, but is a mere rubber stamp of the royal family.

• The constitution remains illegitimate and does not have fundamental guarantees for the creation of a conducive environment to conduct democratic elections.

We also note that various international organisations have clearly refused to condemn the current king, Mswati, at best preferring to play hide and seek with words like “not sufficiently democratic for proper elections”.

We further note the hypocrisy of the UN in encouraging women to participate in undemocratic elections against the progressive movement's call for a boycott of the elections. This is an attempt to use a very legitimate issue -- the dehumanisation and under-representation of women in Swazi decision-making processes -- to support an undemocratic, highly patriarchal and oppressive system, which shall turn a few women in parliament into stooges or agents of patriarchy and political tools of oppression.

We condemn this in the same way that we condemn the Commonwealth which designed the current constitution, supported tinkhundla oppression and is now turning against the product of its own failures, the royal elections, because it has been exposed for its hypocrisy and opportunism and is shying away from associating with the mess of its own making, which unfortunately is costing our country, people and the struggle in general.

The same Commonwealth of Nations dressed down the last national elections in 2003, and ran short of calling them a sham, elections that elected a legislature which does not have political power, where power is entrusted to one person, and where political parties are banned.

The European Union has romanticised the tinkhundla system, politely calling for some changes and failing to act with the decisiveness required or known of it in other instances. It is not assisting the process in any way. We did call for smart sanctions against the royal family, specifically, but the EU played its games, and preferred to passively raise concerns and not confront the evil system directly.

The royal regime prides itself in the hope that there would be various observers who would declare, at the end, that the elections were free and fair since there was no violence. In this case we ask ourselves if it is indeed worth the trouble of going to watch a basically undemocratic election process –- would these observers be (actually) legitimising an illegitimate process.

As mentioned earlier in my presentation, we believe that for the process to be worth its salt it must embrace broader democratic participation, clear constitutional safeguards and the respect of all the international human rights principles and conventions, including the Declaration on Human Rights, the African Charter on People's and Human Rights, the Harare Declaration of the Commonwealth of Nations and the SADC Principles on National Elections.

The Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) is the way forward to a new and democratic Swaziland

We are proud to be members of the newly formed Swaziland United Democratic Front, an initiative of the struggling people of Swaziland collectively. It is their united voice against the tinkhundla system, in their quest to establish a truly united and democratic Swaziland.

Workers protest in the Swazi capital, Mbabane.

Indeed the history of the struggle for democracy all over the world provides one key lesson, and that is it matters not how deep the oppression may be or whether the captain of the oppressive rule is a military junta or a traditional despot, foreign or local. That lesson is that unity is a fundamental precondition for democratic victory!

It has always been the collective and individual desire of the struggling forces of Swaziland to act in unity against a divisive system that always plays one against the other, sometimes infiltrating forces of progress to drive even deeper wedges between the people and their organisations and between organisations themselves. In our address to the workers in May 2005, PUDEMO clearly and articulately called for the forces of change to unite and speak in one cohesive voice, and we are, therefore, proud that this call has been achieved.

It has been our constant call for the unification of the labour movement in the country under the call for “One country, one federation'' and ``One industry, one union”. This year, the workers commemorated their day [May Day] together as one, and not as a fragmented movement. This is a positive step towards a united mass democratic movement.

We are proud to be among those who have refused to be bullied by the system into the sham elections or any of its fraudulent constitutional schemes, despite massive pressures, patronage and corrupt material temptations. We have refused to be second-class citizens in our own country, but continue to demand our rightful place as full citizens and not objects of royal pity and subjugation. We stand tall, in the midst of a cold world that conveniently pretends not to see what our people are going through daily, with all the indicators of a terrifying political and socioeconomic crisis.

Tasks of the Swazi revolution in the current phase

We are called upon to act with renewed urgency, to arrest a deepening feeling of hopelessness, in which both local and international organisations are beginning to feel that nothing can be done to change things in Swaziland. It is a country ``cursed by the gods'', with a monarchy that is determined to go to any lengths to destroy every element of democracy and decency in our society.

The following tasks are central to what must be done:

• Strengthening of the mass democratic forces to root themselves among the masses of our people, which is the core anchor of any claim to being progressive and democratic.

• Deepening of strategic thinking and deeper ideas backed by solid and scientific facts around all the issues affecting our people in order to develop popular, workable and viable alternatives to the crisis of the system. In our ``Road Map'' wocument, PUDEMO was beginning to do just that.

• Restructuring and broadening of the international solidarity movement, as well as strengthening all solidarity efforts in order to enhance, deepen and unite all attempts to expose the tinkhundla system, raise the profile of the Swazi people's struggle and mobilise resources for the struggle of the people. In this case, we must ensure that structures of this nature are led by our international friends as we Swazis are actively involved in the frontline trenches of our struggle, which they are acting in solidarity with.

• We need to deepen political education for all-round ideological and political development of the forces of struggle, in which case, clarity around core perspectives of the struggle and its evolving line of march shall be better enhanced. In this case, we know that our South African comrades are very much advanced here, and their expertise would be useful for us.

• Uniting all the forces under the banner of the SUDF around the issue of multiparty constitutional elections, which should be able to offer a decisive way forward, though this does not mean undermining the individual programs of different organisations within the front, but as a means to build cohesion and unity in action.

Finally, we would not have done justice if we do not also add our voice, once again, to the call for speedy democratisation, stability and success in the negotiations process in Zimbabwe, which is a factor the region has felt so heavily these past days. We are encouraged by the democratic breeze seemingly emerging from the negotiation table lately, and it is proof that Africa is indeed capable of resolving her own challenges amicably, for we are our ``brother’s keeper''.

Our call for democracy in Swaziland is a call for democracy all over the region and continent. We believe that without a firm and revolutionary movement for the deepening of democracy all over Africa, there will be no democracy or at least, sustainable democracy in Swaziland.

``Let all who love our country join the march to a new and democratic Swaziland! All life has no meaning outside the life-affirming struggle for human dignity” -- from ``The Road Map to A New and Democratic Swaziland''.

I thank you.

[Abridged from a paper presented at the Zimbabwe-Swaziland Solidarity Conference, organised by COSATU, at the St. George Hotel, South Africa, August 10–11, 2008.]

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Intensify the march to a new and democratic Southern Africa through a new and democratic Swaziland and Zimbabwe!

By Bongani Masuku

August 15, 2008 -- Swaziland is a neo-colonial and semi-feudal enclave ruled by an absolute monarchy together with his family. It is a country that is naturally endowed with abundant resources, but is suffering from the crisis of a royal kwashiorkor, called the tinkhundla system.

This system by definition is about the entrenchment of royal hegemony in all spheres of Swazi society, thus turning the people into objects of royal pity and plunder. You go to security, you find: Royal Swaziland Police (RSP); finance, you find: Swaziland Royal Insurance Corporation (SRIC) and Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (RSSC); sports, you find: Sihlangu Semnikati (the shield of the owner, literally translated and the owner is the king) and Sitsebe Samhlekazi (Mhlekazi being the Queen Mother), etc.

This is the essence of royal rule, through imposed hegemony, where the king is everything. He is the chancellor of the University, he is the commander-in-chief of the army, he is the patron of thousands of NGOs that front for his hegemony in the name of serving the poor, he is a head of state and more than anything else, a very key businessman, with huge economic interests in every sector of Swazi society. His hands are full of activity that reinforces his greed and entrenches his monopoly over every sphere of our society, not least the economy.

This basic truth, which you know by now, is important to always remember and recite in order to capture the real essence and structure of Swaziland, and why it is not performing. It is obviously suffering from the heavy weight of royal plunder, lack of innovation and creativity, and more than anything else, greed and cancerous corruption, which has permeated every sector of our society and has destroyed the moral fibre of our society.

It is in this sense that we must also locate the critical debate about what has become known as Swazi culture and tradition. The little of what remains from the rich heritage and tapestry of Swazi being, has been eroded in favour of royal interests, which is the core of what remains in the idea of Swazi culture and tradition today.

Certainly, the decent Swazi culture that our forebears cherished so much would never tolerate legalised rape or even abuse of children and women, it would never promote slavery, where the poor people are forced to work in the private farms of the chief and the king, it would never tolerate that an individual could amass so much wealth while our people languish in desperate poverty, as it would never allow decision making and participation in matters of public interest to be a monopoly of the royal family and their friends. We must expose evil practices disguised as our culture and call them what they really are, we must call things by their name.

The Swaziland that always changes in order to remain the same

The country has undergone so many changes, but fundamentally, all the changes are about how best to preserve royal rule, at all costs. These artificial and cosmetic changes create a false illusion and gives an impression that something dramatic is happening in the country, yet daily we are drifting further and further away from where we should be going, towards a new and democratic Swaziland, free from royal plunder and oppression.

The more the changes happen, the more things remain the same and the more royal oppression becomes deeply institutionalised in our society. Our people have even begun to lose some hope that things will ever really change.

When comrades Mandla Hlatshwako and Mario Masuku of the Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO -- Swaziland's liberation movement) were seduced by the system to flirt with it and join the royal bandwagon, the monarchy thought it had landed a huge deal and would decisively weaken the forces of struggle. Alas, to the monarchy's dismay, the opposite was to happen. Principled as they are, these comrades, products of a principled movement and disciplined cadre that they are, openly refused and chose to remain on the side of the poor and oppressed. This happened, even against some elements beginning to think we must allow the comrades to ``infiltrate'' the system, without realising that the system would, in fact have infiltrated us, instead.

We stand tall and proud that we belong to an organisation that has refused to be associated, in any way, with an evil system, tinkhundla. That organisation is called PUDEMO, the proven and trusted movement of the oppressed and struggling masses of Swaziland, which has, over the years, proven that whatever, ranged against you, the odds may be, principles remains high. We also applaud that we work together with our allies in the labour movement and other social forces, who now together constitute what is the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF).

We are proud to have been part of the forebears of the SUDF initiative, the commitment to work together and bring under one umbrella all progressive forces in order to isolate the enemy. The enemy is one and that is the tinkhundla royal system that has subjected our people to years of suffering and oppression.

Where are we today

The regime remains stubborn that only tinkhundla non-party elections shall take place and that the tight hold of the royal state on the levers of power is not about to be eased. This means we must prepare ourselves for a deep, protracted and painful struggle. Any illusion that we are about to be freed or that we are on the horizon of the promised land is too romantic to be true.

On the September 19, the system shall be conducting daylight fraud called elections, legally fooling the world that things are happening, or about to happen, in Swaziland.

In a world of double standards, who cares! We live in a world where the interests of the powerful countries determine where cameras should focus, no matter what the issues and their depth.

Who can dare explain to me the logic of a country that has never seen anything close to democratic elections multiparty elections since 1973, yet no one, including civil society, has raised this issue. All of us prefer to remain quiet or, at best, passively lament this situation.

While we welcome Botswana's stand on Zimbabwe, we would have more reason to believe it is honest and principled, if it had done the same with Swaziland all these years, or at least once. For now, all we can see is hypocrisy and selective morality or double standards in the application and defence of democratic principles and traditions.

Dear comrades, the struggle for the affirmation of human dignity will not be televised, but it will unfold in the humble surroundings of our communities and places.

The revolutionary tempo has and must change!

Unless we resort to new and more effectively decisive methods of struggle, tinkhundla will continue to laugh at us as a bunch of desperate fellows, without any firm resort. In all our sites of struggle, we must and have resolved that things in Swaziland must change. You may have seen in the past few days that the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has engaged a new gear on the issues of democracy in Zimbabwe and Swaziland. Things are about to happen, wait and see.

The new resolve of the democratic forces inside Swaziland is inspiring and encouraging, it allows the solidarity momentum generated elsewhere to be nurtured by the fertility of the political moisture on the ground. The formation of the SUDF is the apex and climax of that resolve. Added to this is the fact that, for the first time, trade unions in Swaziland held a joint May Day event this year. All these pointers make one clear statement, which is that the time of disunity and divisiveness are over and we should not allow the enemy to weaken and divide us any further.

We must force the world to realise that unless they act and act decisively on Swaziland, there shall be no peace in the whole region and beyond. We have heard enough excuses about not knowing what is happening and pretending not to be affected by what is happening. The geopolitical size and strategic significance of Swaziland is no reason for the people to continue suffering for so long, while new terrains of struggle are making decisive headway towards some form of political resolution.

We have a march tomorrow in which we are glad that you shall be part, true to the traditions of militant struggle and activism that this movement is known for. We are glad to welcome you and to work with you in consolidating the forward momentum of this new tide. We are also glad to indicate that on top of the 20 Swazis already in this conference, there are about three or more buses coming for tomorrow's march, indeed an indication that things have and must change. We are building a solid force starting from inside the country and firmly reaching out to all genuine patriots the world over, as part of this renewed momentum, and you are definitely a key part of it.

All this should be critical, but wait until we finalise the coming thunderstorm, involving the non-handling of goods and services to both Zimbabwe and Swaziland, to be launched soon and see if things will not change in Swaziland. We must be ready for the release of a new CD by Mswati sometime soon, singing an entirely new and different song and not a different tune of the same song, but an entirely new song. New times require new methods and this is the time!

Once again, dear comrade chairperson, please accept my gratitude for your sterling work and your invitation for me to share ideas on these issues, as we intensify the march to a new and democratic Southern Africa through a new and democratic Swaziland and Zimbabwe!

Amandla!

[Bongani Masuku is a PUDEMO member based in South Africa, a former secretary general of the Swaziland Solidarity Network. He is also COSATU's international secretary of COSATU. This is an abridged version of Masuku's address to the fourth Conference of the Southern African Peoples Solidarity Network, held in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, on August 15, 2008.]

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Swazi women protest against shopping queens

Swazi women protest against shopping queens

August 21, 2008 Edition 1

MBABANE: Swazi women plan to march today in protest against a shopping tour undertaken by eight of the ruling monarch's 13 wives after they chartered a flight to Europe and the Middle East.

The eight wives, children, maids and bodyguards left the impoverished kingdom last week to shop for the "40-40" double celebrations to mark independence from Britain and King Mswati III's birthday on September 6. "The queens have to look radiant and that is why they have to go and buy quality (items) for the big day. They were being spoiled," a source in the royal family said.

Angered by what they consider excess largesse, the protest march to the Swazi government offices in Mbabane is being planned by the Women's Coalition of Swaziland and Swaziland Positive Living.

The coalition's Ntombi Nkosi asked how funds could be spent on a shopping trip when Swaziland, which has the world's highest HIV prevalence rate, faced shortages of medicines including anti-Aids drugs.

"We are against the idea of public funds being used in a questionable way by people who are not employed and (who) do not bring any revenue to the country's coffers," Siphiwe Hlophe of Swaziland Positive Living said.

Jim Gama, the governor of Ludzidzini, the Swazi traditional capital, said a march by women was "un-Swazi".

"I have never heard of women marching.

"All I know is that a woman has to seek permission from her husband to register her disagreement with whatever was happening in society but not for her to march. That is un-Swazi." - Sapa-AFP

Swazi police harass and detain Swazt unionist

SFTU Media Release, 21 August 2008

Swazi police harassment and detention, following Johannesburg march

Jan J. Sithole, General Secretary, Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, 21 August 2008

On the 21st of August 2008, 10 Police officers came to my place of residence at 0700 hrs, 3 of them were senior Regional Crime investigators and their leader was one Joseph Bhembe and the other 2 were both carried Dlamini surname and cannot recall their first names.

Bhembe said they want to engage with me on matters of state security emanating from our March on August 16th 2008 in Sandton at the SADC Heads of State Summit.

They asked if I could come with them or follow them to Luve Police Station just outside Manzini, since that station had good conference facilities, and is very quiet, I refused and said I will come to my office first, to deal with my days appointments which were going to be affected by their invitation and immediately after that I would come by myself to their Regional Police Head quarters in Manzini at 0900hrs.

The questions that were asked around were the following:

· Inquired on Organizers of the March

· Inquired on the capacity in which I went to this march

· Inquired on purpose of the March

· Inquired on Solidarity partners to the March

· Inquired on the Petition and its contents

· Inquired on our position towards the petition

· Inquired on contents of the petition

· Inquired on placards

· Wanted to know the meaning of slogan that says “The Struggle continues”

And my responses were as follows;

· The organizer is SATUCC, her affiliates and SADC Civil Society including those from Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa.

· I went there on the mandate of SFTU and on my capacity as the Secretary General of SFTU.

· I told them that the purpose of the march was SADC Civil Society Solidarity march on concerns of Swaziland and Zimbabwe bordering on

· Demand for democratic changes,

o Respect for fundamental human rights

o Respect for the rule of law

o Respect for Social & Economic Justice

Though a petition at the SADC Heads of States Summit as both countries are members of SADC and signatory to the electoral protocol which both countries have violated.

· I mentioned that our Solidarity partners are the entire regional Civil Society from SADC drawn from all walks of life.

· They asked what role COSATU was playing at SATUCC, I informed them that COSATU is a member of SATUCC the same way that all organized Labour federations are members;

· In the petition they were interested if we knew it and are party to it which was agreed.

· They wanted to know if we support the petition and its concerns with regards to the illegitimacy of the constitution making process, in Swaziland. I agreed, stating that the process was exclusionary through decrees No.2 of 1996, formerly excluding the right to submit of organized formations as such cannot claim ownership by the entire population of Swaziland particularly the organized formations.

I also brought to their attention that the issue regional and enjoyed regional support from SADC Civil Society and organized Labour and was duly received by SADC Executive Secretary as the appropriate forum which Swaziland joined voluntarily and currently chairing the Troika organ.

On the issue of “The Struggle continues,” I told them that it means we will continue demanding and putting pressure on government for democratic changes respect for human rights respect for the rule of law and social and economic justice without relenting until those concerns are positively addressed.

They asked what we believed would be the immediate solution to this long drawn struggle and my response was “Genuine, Result oriented all inclusive social dialogue, not the fake dialogues that do not have mandate as the recent past one.

I also raised that it should be noted that we have continued to be constant in our demands on the constitution, fiscal indiscipline, rule of law social and economic justice and good governance both inside and outside the country for time in memoria.

The meeting lasted for an hour and a half.

Issued by Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, +268 505 6575, sftu1@swazi.net

Jan J. Sithole, General Secretary, 21 August 2008

Zimbabwe

I understand the confusion that many of us have regarding Zimbabwe. This is especially true of those who would impose foreign idelologies such as liberalism on Africans. So, let me say that ZANU-PF led the Struggle against white supremacy. On the other hand, many who support white supreamcy back MDC. What are we to make of this reality?

PUDEMO declares war, endorses umbane

PUDEMO declares war, endorses umbane

By [Swazi] Times Sunday on August 31,2008
Link: http://www.times.co.sz/News/1070.html
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*M**BABANE—Just a few days before the coveted double celebrations, the
People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) has come out to declare war*.

PUDEMO's declaration comes at a time when Swaziland will be celebrating 40
years of Independence, combined with the king's 40th birthday next Saturday,
September 6, 2008.

This event will host renowned statesmen from other countries as well as
dignitaries from across the globe. While PUDEMO has not come out explicitly
to say it will disturb the celebrations, the police and army have already
used millions of Emalangeni buying arms and weapons, presumably in
preparation against possible threats of sabotage against the event.

PUDEMO's extraordinary congress held last week resolved that the
organisation will now engage in a military offensive against government.

*Endorsed*

PUDEMO also endorsed the existence of its underground military wing, the
Swaziland People's Liberation Army (SWAPLA), an organisation that calls
itself Umbane (lightning).

The Congress was held in Nelspruit in the Republic of South Africa and was
attended by over 100 delegates from both inside Swaziland and those in
exile.

Information gathered by this newspaper is that some of the Commanders of
Umbane were present at the Congress when the declaration was taken.

*Declaration*

Reads the declaration: "We declare to the world that the regime will not be
allowed to monopolise violence against the people's movement, its
leadership, cadres and their families. The people's movement has also noted
that our people and comrades are no longer safe both inside and outside the
country's borders. We, therefore, declare that we are taking a decisive
action to protect our people and comrades. We declare that PUDEMO is
embarking on the highest form of struggle and sacrifice of military and
combat action against the regime, all its structures and extensions."

The declaration acknowledges the existence of Umbane and says the military
wing's responsibility will be to protect the people of Swaziland, the
organisation's leadership as well as their members.

"The struggle will be advanced through the political, military and combat
action, the action will be a military strategy for the attainment of the
people's power for the poor and the oppressed and specific responses to
enemy attacks,"

*Sabotage*

This declaration comes at the height of bombings and sabotage threats
directed at government establishments and structures.

PUDEMO uses four pillars in its struggle; mass mobilisation, underground
work, international solidarity and military combat.

"We declare to the world that we will not rest until there is freedom and
democracy in the country, which will be a product of free and democratic
elections.," reads the declaration in part.
The declaration says PUDEMO met and reflected on the political situation in
Swaziland so that they could accordingly position themselves to meet the
challenges of the time, adopt a correct mode of doing work and usher in
freedom.

Rumours that PUDEMO was preparing a military offensive against government
started circulating as early as 1998 but the organisation has always denied
this.

*Strategy*

It was only in 2003 that the then Secretary General of the organisation,
Bonginkhosi 'IB' Dlamini told throngs of workers during the annual Workers
Day celebration that PUDEMO had officially adopted the military strategy.

Activities, supported by PUDEMO that will be staged to protests against the
double celebrations include week-long boycotting of goods coming to
Swaziland by COSATU, protest marches by the Swaziland United Democratic
Front (SUDF), as well marches in the Swazi Embassies in South Africa by the
Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) on the day of the celebrations.

*'We are still to meet'—Sphasha*

*MBABANE—PUDEMO's Secretary General Sphasha Dlamini has come out to say
that it was a responsibility of every individual to fight for human dignity
and justice.*

"We have a responsibility to defend life and human dignity. We can't be
bullied around and keep saying yes, yes, yes. We resolved to apply all the
pillars of the struggle towards the liberation of the people. Ours is about
the defence of life and human dignity," said Dlamini, when asked about the
congress declaration.

While Dlamini did not want to respond directly to the specific question of
using military as a tactic of struggle she did, however, acknowledge that
they had a responsibility to defend their members against the use of force
by the police and army.

*Disassociated*

She repeatedly said her organisation did not have a military wing and
disassociated themselves from Umbane, something that was contrary to the
declaration.

"The National Executive Committee of PUDEMO will meet over the week to look
at the resolutions, declarations and programme of action from the congress.
What we must state for the record is that we have no military wing and that
we get equally shocked at the military response of the people against the
regime," Dlamini said.

She said they had always taken resolutions over the years and the task at
hand was implementing them.

She said they would continue to oppose all initiatives of the government by
peacefully staging protest actions and demonstrations.

*Evasive*

Dlamini became evasive when asked about the declaration, preferring to say
she could neither confirm nor deny the declaration.

*Dialogue is still key, says NLC*
*M**BABANE—The Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) still believes
that doors have not been totally closed for peaceful change in the country.*

The organisation's Secretary General, Thami Hlatshwayo, said they respected
PUDEMO's views and policies but they still believed that mass action and
other peaceful means of struggle can still be given a chance. Hlatshwayo
said the NNLC, as an affiliate to the Swaziland United Democratic Front
(SUDF), did not interfere, with individual organis-ations rights to pursue
their programmes but they believed that to them the time for military action
has not come and that mass action could still be given a chance "We believe
that there is still room for peaceful change of the system and that mass
action could be used to force the government into negotiations. Our view is
that the doors have not all been closed for peaceful change," Hlatshwayo
said.

Secretary General of the newly formed African United Democratic Party
(AUDP), Sibusiso Dlamini, said they also believed that avenues for peaceful
change have not been closed. He said when his party was formed they went to
court to ask to be registered in 'operation *vulindlela* (open the doors)
and when they declared that they would contest the elections they engaged
'operation *hlomasikhonkwane* (root your presence)' and that when they get
to Parliament and nothing changes they will then engage in
'operation*tsanyela umgcilati
* (wipe out the enemy)'.

He said this last operation was a military offensive which to them was a
last resort. Sibahle Sinje publicist Zibuse Simelane said his organisation
was against any form of violence but was quick to add that they would not
comment further because they have not seen the declaration.

Swazi King Mswati is 15th richest monarch in the world

*Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]* *PRESS RELEASE*

*RE:* 1.King Mswati is 15th richest monarchy in the world

2.Mswati hires international public relations firms/ lobbyists.

3.Zolani Mkiva, Benjamin Dube, Joyous Celebration goes to Swaziland - an
embarassment to South Africa

* *

*1.King Mswati is 15th richest monarchy in the world*

Check the following website:

It has been reported in Forbes Magazine that Mswati is the 15th richest
monarchy in the world. We are not surprised because we have been trying to
get everyone's attention to the fact that MSwati has been stealing Swazi
taxpayers money since he became King. His personal Swiss bank account under
this first name Makosetive is proof of this thug ownership of Swazi
government finances. All this while half the population lives with AIDS/
HIV. 75% live below the poverty line on International food aid. While this
suffering continues, Mswati is spending over R100melion celebrating the 40
years of independence together with his birthday on the 6 September 2008. It
is a travesty of justice.

To add insult to injury his regime is a having an undemocratic sham
elections on September 19, while the democratic political parties remained
banned, free speech/association remains suppressed, the media is controlled,
comrades remain harassed, arrested and exiled.

*2.Mswati hires international public relations firms/ lobbyists.*

Given the above unjust conditions the only way that MSwati can stay in power
is try to fool the minds and hearts of the majority of Swazis and the
international community that all is well in Swaziland and that "he is a
great guy". Hence we not surprised again, that he hires lobbyists and Public
Relations firms with poor Swazi's tax money, to help him gain a better
image. This is the terrorism that Swazis are faced with daily. Yet the
Mswati regime calls the democratic movement led by PUDEMO terrorists. It is
us who fight for justice and true democracy. It is the unelected Mswati and
the undemocratically elected regime that terrorizes Swazis daily.

Here is the proof from the Swazi media commentary:

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2008/08/us-firm-bats-for-swazi-king.html

*"My post earlier this month (August 2008) about how Swaziland's King Mswati
III had hired a public relations (PR) firm in London to improve his image in
the international community prompted a reader to point out this recent
article in a US magazine.*

*It seems that King Mswati III has also been paying a PR lobbyist E140,000
(20,000 US dollars) a month in the United States to work for him. The PR
firm told the magazine the king was 'real green behind the ears'. The PR
firm told the king to stop holding the annual Reed Dance because important
people in the United States didn't like the idea of 40,000 maidens dancing
with bare breasts because there was a 'sexual undertone' to it."*

*3. Zolani Mkiva, Benjamin Dube, Joyous Celebration goes to Swaziland - an
embarassment to South Africa*

It has come to our attention that all this artist, have been invited by the
king to Swaziland to entertain Mswati and this cronies. The lack of social
and political consciousness of some of our artists is appalling. They are
willing to sell their souls to the devil for money. This is an embarrassment
to the proud history of South African artists who fought against Apartheid
South Africa. We want to warn them that if they go, we will begin a boycott
campaign of their music.

What is most appalling is that two of these are Gospel singers willing to
taint the name of God by using His Name to praise the devil and his unjust
Swazi Regime. We condemn these fake prophets ! We condemn them in the name
of Jesus who lives, fought and died for justice. May they repent and be
truly saved.

*Conclusion*

All of the above only bolsters our resolved to free Swaziland from this
tinpot dictator. We will hold hands with our harassed and suppressed
comrades from PUDEM, SFTU and SUDF to free Swaziland. Do not be surprised as
the struggle intensifies and we create serious crisis for the evil regime of
Swaziland.

Issued by the SSN.

For more information contact

*Lucky Lukhele- SSN spokesperson*

*Cell:072 502 4141*

*Tell: 011 339 3621*

Africa Contact: Open Letter on the situation in Swaziland

To:

African Union (AU)

Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Commonwealth of Nations

European Union

Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF)

International press and media

 

August 31, 2008

 

Internationally, the royal disregard for fundamental democratic rights has been ignored. The election of King Mswati as the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on politics, defence and security, which is responsible for the defence of democracy in the region, is absolutely unacceptable.

Royal governance has been no less than a catastrophe for its people.

The Swazi regime is spending an extreme level of resources on the coming 40/40 celebrations, the royal birthday and so-called

independence day. Royal independence has created a state of

oppression and inequality that is unacceptable, a state of hunger and a mortality of the people that is deeply tragic.

Women have marched to government offices in Mbabane, angered by the abuse and corruption of the royal regime. Again and again, theSwaziland rulers have harassed the democratic movement, trade unions leaders and representatives of the democratic movement.

There is no other way than to demand:

- Lifting of the royal ban on multiparty politics and the right to

participate in public institutions. A ban created by royal

proclamation to the nation in 1973 and continuing in the constitution introduced in 2005.

- The right to return of all political fugitives. There are many who

remain in exile for fear of persecution by the state.

- A representative national convention creating a democratic

constitution which will be a true representation of the people of

Swaziland, of their needs and their future.

- An end to the corruption and greed of a royal family and a ruling minority that is a deep threat to the future of Swazi society.

There is no other way. Africa Contact (Denmark) has for years

supported the democratic movement in Swaziland. Also with the hope that it could achieve its goal through peaceful means, but such a hopeseems deeply threatened now in a time of permanent crisis.

Executive Committee

Africa Contact

Copenhagen / Denmark

10,000 protest in Swaziland, September 3, 2008

Manzini grounded
Musa Nhleko, Mbongiseni Nhlek, Times of Swaziland, 4 September 2008

MANZINI – An overwhelming crowd of over 10 000 marchers took to the
streets yesterday, in protest over a number of socio-economic challenges
facing the country, bringing the city to a standstill.

With such a big turnout, it was almost impossible that the march would
be peaceful and despite every measure taken to ensure that it was, some
marchers provoked the wrath of the riot police by stoning them.

This resulted in the police responding by firing teargas canisters and
arresting two marchers for destroying property.

Some police officers were also overwhelmed by the turnout but manned
their ground.

The march itself had started peacefully but it was only a matter of time
before some marchers from two progressive groups pelted the police with
stones. The workers had assembled for speeches at the Jubilee Park
during lunch time.

The group that pelted stones had caused trouble from the onset as they
would march in different routes much against the peaceful workers around
the city.

Not even Jan Sithole of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU)
or People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) President Mario Masuku
could stop the rowdy crowd of about 30 people.

Most of the rowdy people in this group were reported to be members of
Pudemo and the Swaziland Youth Congress (Swayoco) and they were joined
by women from the textile industry while toyi-toying.

Confronted

It all started when the police while standing between Nedbank and
Swazibank were confronted by the rowdy marchers by throwing stones.

The riot officers were in a van.

One of the officers responded by firing teargas canisters towards the
rowdy group, which had then joined the marchers who were seated and
listening to speeches at the Jubilee Park.

Workers and bystanders were forced to take cover from the teargas as the
police also came towards them.

The situation got worse when a group of police officers who were
standing opposite the Jubilee Park seemingly offended the workers with
their presence.

The rowdy group pelted the officers with stones and luckily no one was hurt.

A white Audi had one of its windows smashed after they missed the police
officers.

After the situation was brought to normal and the workers dispersed, the
police spotted two of the suspects who vandalised property and they were
all taken from two kombis on their way back home.

They were both charged with causing malicious damage to property and
this was confirmed by police Public Relations Officer Superintendent
Vusi Masuku.

Masuku appealed to the organisers to ensure that marches are peaceful as
when there are elements of breach of peace, the law will be effected by
the police.

He noted that provocation of the police by marchers throwing stones was
not a good thing during the marches.

While the media estimated the marchers to be over 10 000, the labour
movement claimed that the marchers were up to 15 000.

This was different from last year as figures were estimated to be 3 000.

10 000 marchers shock police

MANZINI – Police randomly interviewed yesterday said they were shocked
at the turnout of the marchers.

The police, when speaking to the Times, said it was good that only a small number of marchers were violent, while the multitudes were
marching peacefully. "If you see these marchers, we are nothing compared
to them, if they could all turn violent we would have to call for
back-up," said some of the officers.

When asked about the numbers as compared to last year, those who were
randomly interviewed, said they were shocked with the numbers and felt
the people were well over 10 000.

One officer even suggested that soldiers would have to be called to help
them just in case the situation got out of control. However, other
officers rebuked him said he must go join the army if he thought they
could not contain the march.
\
Marchers clash with police
Swazi Observer, 4 September 2008

JUST when everyone, including the police, thought the over 10 000
protesters' march in Manzini yesterday was peaceful, police clashed with
a handful of demonstrators minutes after lunch.

It all started when a group of about 20 demonstrators broke away from
the main group and started throwing missiles at the police. They also
insulted and mocked the police officers.

What further provoked the brief confrontation was when the marchers
dragged a full waste bin into the road on Nkoseluhlaza Street.

The main group of marchers was already seated at the Jubilee Park where
they were to be addressed on the next move, having covered the first
round of the march set to end at 3:00pm.

A vehicle carrying the riot squad, under the instruction of Manzini
Station Commander Richard Mngometulu, chased after members of the
deviant group. The police also fired teargas into the air sending
marchers running for cover.

During an earlier episode the same group attempted to disturb the peace
at the bus rank only to find that the police were in full alert and
defused their tricks.

No injuries were reported except for the brief encounter.

Swaziland Federation of Trade Union (SFTU) Secretary General Jan Sithole
said though he was not sure what sparked the violence, he was informed
that some form of intimidation was experienced.

He was reluctant to say whether the intimidation was by the police or
the demonstrators.

“Though I have not been fully briefed about the main cause, it is wise
for the police to bear in mind that the riot squads are not supposed to
be near demonstrators because they are an intimidation. So, chances are,
the people were intimidated by their presence and decided to be
violent,” said Sithole.

Meanwhile, the march will today continue in Mbabane where Sithole said
they were expecting more people.

Young Communist League of South Africa: Boycott Swazi 40/40

YCL Letter of Request to Benjamin Dube, Zolani Mkiva, Joyous Celebrations and SAFA to boycott the 40/40 Celebrations in Swaziland!

Thursday 04 September 2008

On behalf of the National Committee of the Young Communist League [YCL], kindly receive our warm and fraternal greetings.

We have learnt with great shock through media reports that you as South African artists, including the South African Football Association developmental team will be participating in the 40/40 celebrations in Swaziland over the weekend 5 – 7 September 2008.

The purposes of these music performances and friendly games we are told according to the media reports are to "form part of Swaziland's 40th Independence celebrations". This celebration also marks the 40th birthday of King Mswati III, Africa's last absolute monarchy.

Swaziland is to spend more than R 100 million for these celebrations in a country where more than half the population lives on foreign food aid and almost 40% of the population is confronted with the reality of HIV/AIDS without government support and supply of medication.

After independence from Britain in 1968, the then King Sobhuza II banned political parties and activities in a unilateral declaration of the state of emergency through the 12 April 1973 Royal Decree which abrogated all the executive, judicial and legislative powers unto himself making him an absolute monarchy. To date Swaziland is still ruled through this draconian legislation and no political activity is allowed.

For many years now, thousands of young South Africans have been engaged in Solidarity activities led by the Progressive Youth Alliance under the banner of the Swaziland Solidarity Network in support of the struggle of the Swazi people.

We are calling on you as South African artists and developmental team not form part these celebrations within the context of our solidarity with the oppressed and struggling people of Swaziland, especially the working class and the poor youth.

These celebrations are meant to squander public funds and resources, and further give legitimacy to the illegitimate Mswati's regime. For you as South African ambassadors to wine and dine with the evil and barbaric oppressors will be tantamount to a serious betrayal of the people of Swaziland to freedom and democratic equality to pursue a dignified life in conditions of total decolonization and freedom.

We therefore call on you given the social power and influence you posses to boycott these celebrations in solidarity with the plight of the ordinary Swazi people.

The national leadership of the YCL is prepared to meet with you and discuss the rationale behind our call for the boycott of these celebrations.

Communist Regards,

BUTI MANAMELA, NATIONAL SECRETARY

For more information contact:

Castro Ngobese

National Spokesperson – 082 567 3557

Bombs explode on eve of Mswati’s bash

Bombs explode on eve of Mswati’s bash
Sapa-AFP Published:Sep 05, 2008

TWO explosions went off in Swaziland’s capital, Mbabane, yesterday, on the second day of demonstrations to persuade the government to introduce democratic reforms and improve workers’ welfare.

A bus and a concrete rubbish bin were damaged in the separate blasts, two days ahead of Swaziland’s “40-40” double celebrations to mark independence from Britain and King Mswati III’s birthday.

About 10000 protesters marched in Mbabane, a day after demonstrators took to the streets in Manzini, the industrial centre of the landlocked state, which is Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

A witness who runs a hawker stand at the bus station said smoke billowed out of the bus’s windows.

“A loud bang was heard and it was at this stage that we called the police,” she told AFP.

Police spokesman Superintendent Vusi Masuku confirmed the bus blast, but declined to give further details.

“The marchers were responsible for the blast and we will not rest until we get the culprits. For now we can confirm the blast, but we do not know whether it was a bomb or another form of explosive,” Masuku said.

March organiser Vincent Ncongwane, of the Swaziland Federation of Labour trade union, condemned the use of explosives and bombs.

“None of our members could be associated with these acts and we would like to challenge anyone who claims that our members engaged in such acts to come and name such a person or people,” Ncongwane said.

A group calling itself Umbane, meaning lightning, has reportedly threatened to use force to spoil Saturday’s celebrations.

Local newspaper The Times reported at the weekend that the group — which claimed responsibility for two blasts last month — would make sure they did not give the ruling elite a chance to celebrate.

The Swaziland government issued a statement yesterday saying that the Swazi people would decide on the need for a multi-party system.

SACP (western Cape) rejects Swazi 40/40 farce

7.2 Swaziland

7.2.1 The SACP has learnt with displeasure that today this country is holding what is referred to as “40/40” celebrations, meaning the 40th Anniversary of Swazi independence from Britain and Mswati’s 40th Birthday. This was preceded by the King’s 13 wives going on a spending spree of millions of rands in overseas countries to buy clothes in preparation of the “40/40” celebrations.

7.2.2 This is done against the background of rampant poverty that continues to reign the working class and the poor in Swaziland, unemployment and HIV and AIDS are recorded to be at the highest peak. This is a country that bans and suppresses activities of other political parties who speak against the corruption that is entrenched within the Monarchy and in government. Internationally Swaziland is recognized in comparative terms as against Zimbabwe, because according to the imperialist in Zimbabwe their interests are threatened.

7.2.3 The SACP in the Western Cape rejects these celebrations which are meant to benefit the elites whilst the plight of the working class and the poor in Swaziland is deteriorating and calls upon the Alliance structures to embark in solidarity campaigns with the people of Swaziland. The SACP also calls upon the resignation of Mswati as the head of the most important organ of SADC in Politics, Defense and Security, which is currently also involved in dealing with the political deadlock in Zimbabwe.

For further information or clarification please call Khaya Magaxa, SACP Provincial Secretary, on

083 7210221 or Karl Cloete, SACP Provincial Chairperson, on 083 2978757

Swaziland police block pre-election protest

Swaziland police block pre-election protest
September 18, 2008, 14:30

Police in Swaziland, one of the world's last absolute monarchies, have detained several union leaders and blocked others from a pre-election protest to demand democratic reform.

Swazi authorities say the protest would cause anarchy in the country the day before a parliamentary election. Armed police pulled labour activists from buses and cars at a roadblock en route to a border crossing with South Africa, taking union leaders into vans and sending others back to the capital Mbabane.

Meanwhile, commenting on the arrest of various Swazi protesters, SA Communist Party spokesperson, Malesela Maleka, says the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union should ensure that Swaziland adheres to democratic principles.

Maleka added that it was shameful that the arrests took place when King Mswati III was the head of the SADC organ on politics, safety and defence. – Additional reporting by Sapa

************
http://www.thestar.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=4618210

Voters promised heaven and earth in flawed Swazi election
But it's just wild talk as parties can't form government

September 19, 2008 Edition 1

Hans Pienaar

Candidates in Swaziland's election were making promises "off the top of their heads" to get votes in today's parliamentary elections, widely derided as a joke and meaningless as political parties are not allowed to form a government.

Police were on tenterhooks and have been arresting opposition members, fearing a repeat in recent weeks of demonstrations against King Mswati III's autocratic rule.

The South African Communist Party called "shameful" the arrests and brief detention of unionists and activists who were on their way to blockade the border posts on the South African border.

SACP spokesperson Malesela Maleka was scathing over the silence of the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, which, he said, should ensure that Swaziland applies democratic principles. Swaziland is the chair of SADC's organ on politics, security and defence.

"How opportunistic that the rest of the region and the continent has chosen to keep quiet while thousands of people in Swaziland are subjected to poverty and the brutal dictatorship of the king," he said.

"South African government's deafening silence speaks volumes about the cornerstone of our foreign policy, more so because many Swazis died in the struggle against apartheid," Maleka said. SA is the current chair of SADC.

A civil-society advocate, who preferred not to be identified for fear of victimisation, said wild promises were being made by the about 350 candidates. Candidates stand as individuals, and are nominated by 55 "nkundlas", or groups of chiefs, who can each nominate one person.

Some candidates were promising communities buses and all manner of other goods that they will never be able to provide, unless they pay for them from their meagre parliamentary salaries.

The electioneering is fierce, but only because candidates are trying to outdo each other.
Click here

Nevertheless, a high turn-out was expected, as chiefs would act against people not voting, Maleka said.

Voter registration cards were routinely demanded when social security, food aid and other largesse were dealt out.

A new constitution adopted in 2006 guarantees freedom of association, and the country's attorney-general claims political parties can be registered. But as they are not allowed to form a government, and have to work within tight restrictions, few care to operate.

Opposition politics have been dominated by unionists and activists.

On September 3, on the eve of Mswati's "40-40" celebrations of Swaziland's independence and his birthday, about 10 000 people gathered in the commercial capital Manzini, and reassembled the next day. Their prime target was the cost of the celebrations, estimated at 100-million emlangeni ( R100-million).

"We are elated by the historic outpouring of ordinary people to say to the royal government 'Enough!'," said the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions' Andrew Simelane.

Recently, a thousand HIV-positive women, galled by reports that Mswati's 13 wives had been sent on shopping trips to the Middle East and Asia, led a march in Mbabane.

Local newspapers widely reprinted a recent list published by Forbes magazine, in which Mswati was named one of the 15 richest royals in the world.

Swazi freedom fighters killed

Cdes Musa Dlamini & Jack Govender
By Lucky Lukhele, 23 September 2008

It is with great sadness and anger that we learnt of the tragic passing away of two prominent internationalists, revolutionaries and members of the freedom struggle in Swaziland, comrades Musa "MJ" Dlamini and Jack Govender aka Sipho Khumalo. The humblest and the bravest servants of humanity have fallen – pick up their spears and carry on the fight for freedom.

According to the information, at our disposal, disseminated by the royal news cables and cohorts, the two comrades passed on between Mbabane and Manzini in what appeared to have been an explosion and their remains were scattered around the scene of the accident.

The SSN is deeply saddened by the untimely departure of the two most dedicated revolutionaries and of its founder members. We dip our revolutionary banners in their living memory as we pay tribute to their contribution to the struggle for freedom, peace, justice and democracy in Swaziland.

SSN does not believe the royally edited information and blatant lies about what happened on the fateful night of September 20, 2008, the day that swallowed two giant revolutionaries. The tinkundla free Swaziland will cherish this day as having contributed immensely to their freedom and a befitting monument of freedom will be erected in their honour, for their selfless service to a democratic and free Swaziland where all will live together harmoniously and with peaceful neighbourliness without the oppression by the other.

Comrade Jack Govender, on the insistence of Prince Musa who introduced him to PUDEMO, was the founder member of Swaziland Solidarity Network, in fact he was the main drive for its establishment, and was the first one to establish contact with the progressive liberation movement in Swaziland post South African democratic breakthrough in 1994, People's United Democratic Movement [PUDEMO], Swaziland Federation Of Trade Unions [SFTU], Swaziland Youth Congress [SWAYOCO], Swaziland Association Of Students [SAS] where he met MJ and the then Swaziland Democratic Alliance.

He left South Africa in December 1998 to pursue studies and work in the USA and later would travel the world. He came back to South Africa in February 2008 and continued his work for the liberation of Swaziland through the solidarity network. It is only befitting that he fell in Swaziland the land he fought so much to liberate from royal dictatorship, his internationalist blood and that of his friend and comrade Musa will nourish the germinating seed of freedom that will soon bear the Swazi tree of freedom which one day even the royal oppressors will bask under its protection of comfortable shade of freedoms.

As we pay tribute to these gallant heroes of our freedom struggle, ardent internationalists, we reject with all contempt the insinuations by the autocratic Swazi regime police that theirs was an evil act of terror. They were forced to those conditions, to confront the enemy head on, by the autocratic regime and undemocratic government of King Mswati III, who abrogated all national powers -judicial, legislative and executive unto himself through the unfortunate and the sad decree of April 12, 1973. Until today Swaziland remains a dictatorship under King Mswati III and his royal cohorts. Theirs was a just struggle from which all and what is necessary remain justified to use against human oppression and for the cause of justice and the liberation of their fellow countrymen and women.

We have also noted with disgust the manner in which the royally influenced media has attacked the integrity of comrade MJ. This is expected from their quarters who serve their masters. MJ was a hero of the Swaziland struggle for freedom and was not a coward. He did not allow his law studies to blind and limit him from freeing his people and for that we will always remember him both as a great legal mind and great patriot who loved his country for which he gave his blood, the greatest honour any revolutionary can attest for his country. The sacrifice of his thriving law practice to concentrate on the freedom of his people is greatly appreciated and acknowledged by all of us who worked with him.

To all peace loving Swazis, patriots and democrats across all the sectors we call upon you to remain focused and steady in the just struggle for a free, peaceful and democratic Swaziland and we call on you to unite during this time of pain in Swaziland, to join hands and face the common social and political challenges facing you, to work together and confront the tinkundla system to totally destroy it and usher in a democratic dispensation.

We call on to strengthen the revolutionary foundation of the Swaziland United Democratic Front to take the final challenge for your country's liberation for which MJ was a prime architect from its initial conception. We remain available for any support that is possible and within our capacity towards a free and democratic Swaziland. We can only remind you that for your liberation arise the consciousness of the masses who are the ultimate arbiter of their fate and social condition, deepen your roots in them and observe the spectacle of a people's revolution in motion.

To their respective families we sincerely pass our deepest condolences and regrets for these untimely deaths. May they know that we all share their pain and grief and thus help to lessen their pain. We also loved them, they were our comrades and brothers but we know your pain is immeasurable.

To our beloved comrades as we bid them our final farewell, may their undying revolutionary spirit live on and help to inspire many young revolutionaries to take up their spears and soldier on until Swaziland is free and indeed until humanity is totally free from hunger, illiteracy, disease and dictators. Lalani ngoxolo maqhawe a maqwawe, so hlala si ni khumbula nge zenzo zeno! Yours was an heroic action, not an act of cowardice, and accordingly will spur us on until Swaziland is finally free from the unjust system of tinkundla oppression. Our banners are flying half mast for you comrades – rest in peace!

Issued by the Swaziland Solidarity Network-South Africa Chapter

For more information contact Lucky Lukhele, 072 502 4141, lucky.lukhele@gmail.com

Swaziland --Jack Govender: A Che Guevara of our time

Jack Govender: A Che Guevara of our time

Jack Govender, aka Sipho Khumalo, has made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. An internationalist in every sense, he laid down his life not for 'his people' in any narrow sense, but for his people in the broader sense that he took oppression and suffering anywhere as his own.

Jack's commitment to liberation did not start with his role in founding SSN. He was a community and political activist in his hometown of Durban. He was a student activist in SANSCO and SASCO during his days at the University of Durban-Westville. Jack left the country during the early 1990's for military training with Umkhonto we Sizwe. This was not the ordinary path for someone coming from his background. Other people could have just focussed on their studies, stayed as a student activist, or started working – but Jack was not somebody ordinary. On returning from military training he was integrated as an MK into the SANDF. But soon he was looking for other avenues for making a contribution. Jack was also a trade unionist, working for POPCRU and spearheading their political education. He was active in the ANC, ANCYL, and SACP.

Meanwhile, South Africa had gained freedom from apartheid but just next door Swaziland was still under the yoke of royal oppression. Jack threw himself into the Swazi struggle for freedom, democracy, and socialism. He could have just settled for a government job, or got some tenders, enjoying the fruits of a free South Africa that he had himself struggled for. But he could not relax in that freedom while just a few hundred kilometres away people could not enjoy the same freedom.

At that time the Swaziland struggle was not fashionable in South Africa: there was no SSN, no marches or meetings. Jack's commitment to that struggle was in a pure spirit of selfless internationalism and he did not seek any limelight.

He is the first South African to lay down his life for the Swaziland struggle, but there is a long and proud history of Swazi participation in the South African struggle for freedom, even in the face of collaboration between the Swaziland and apartheid regimes. Swazi revolutionaries such as Keith MacFadden fought and died for South African freedom. This was not interference, but internationalism; and it is fitting that the spirit of internationalism continues today.

Jack did not define himself as Indian, or even just as a South African; rather as a human who felt other people's suffering as his own. He was really someone special. And he did take pleasure in life: he was free with people and enjoyed music, playing guitar, and dancing.

Jack was one of very few people that actually lived his life in the spirit of Che Guevara. And indeed like Che, he died suddenly in another country fighting for freedom. Jack is the embodiment of the internationalist spirit, something so rare in this century.

It is still difficult to believe that Jack is no more. He had a full life, but still had so much to live for. We can only be comforted by knowing that he had long ago made a commitment of being willing to die for his beliefs, took a course that did indeed put his own life at risk for a noble cause, and died fighting for freedom. Jack and his comrade MJ will be remembered in history as the first revolutionary martyrs of the Swaziland struggle.

By comrade Fiona SACP, ANC, SSN member

Mswati

I am a very worried Swazi studying outside Swaziland,reason being government claimed there is no money for my education. I am very suprised a double celebration was stage. I hope Swazis wake up and smell the coffee. The king is the source of our troubles. My mother is a teacher, she lives her life to see me get my degree. The king claims Swaziland is fine. If Swaziland is fine why are his children studying abroad and not at UNISWA? Why dont they use public government schools? Why is he not driven in one car with few escorts? I have been paying tax since the day I turned 18 years, but I dont have a scholarship. I wonder if mswatis USA and British based kids pay tax, I doubt it. Why are we made to suffer like this? Other countries are moving forward whilst our country is moving backwards just because of one mans big ego. King Mswati should just do everyone a favour and step down. Swazis are dying of hunger and HIV/AIDS and the govrnment does not care, they just want to organise birthday parties for a evil man at our expense. I dont blame them, the fools have to eat too. How long are we going to watch this happen? and am wondering why the swazi people are not standing up. Things are not going well. There are no jobs for skilled labour. Government is ran by uneducated criminals looting our taxea dry. How does king mswati sleep at night. Sometimes i wish i Could wake up to news of his death. That would the the greatest day for Swaziland, the devil would have died. People are watching and helping him oppress the us. I hate the monarchy. Their lives are improving whilst ours detoriate yet we are the tax payers. The king has lots of shares in the big companies, what are we supposed to own. I humbly appeal the world to please help Swaziland. This is a serious case. DOWN WITH THE MONARCHY!

SWAZILAND: Govt fails to stop "terrorist" meeting

MBABANE, 20 October 2008 (IRIN) - An international conference of NGOs dedicated to social change took place in Swaziland despite the government banning the meeting on grounds of public safety; it had alleged some of the delegates were supporters of terrorism.

The Southern African Social Forum (SASF) holds its annual meeting in a different country each year. The greatest attendance was achieved in 2005, when the forum convened in Zimbabwe and 4,000 people participated.

This year only about 200 delegates convened in Manzini, Swaziland's commercial hub, from 16 to 19 October, after a High Court ruling overturned the government's ban.

The low attendance was attributed to confusion by foreign delegates over the government's original restriction, announced by Acting Prime Minister Bheki Dlamini, and the reluctance of local groups to attend a function officially disallowed by their political leaders.

The first day of the forum also conflicted with King Mswati's summoning of Swazis to a meeting at the traditional royal village at Ludzidzini, where he angrily denounced political radicals, alleging that they had vowed a campaign of bombings to press for democratic reform. He said such elements would be "strangled". Mswati is sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch.

No political group has claimed responsibility for a bomb blast last month at a road bridge close to King Mswati's Lozitha palace, in which two of the bombers died and one was wounded in the premature explosion.

One of the deceased was a member of the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), one of the country's banned political parties, but PUDEMO denied any organisational involvement. At least two South African nationals were among the bombers.

Acting Prime Minister Dlamini, a member of the royal clan and regarded as a hardliner, ordered the SASF meeting to be banned on the grounds that participating labour groups - South Africa's Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) - had approved of the 21 September explosion.

Bombing campaign

Dlamini alleged that a campaign of bombings was sanctioned to press for political reform at an August 2008 meeting of labour groups in South Africa. "Soon after the [highway bombing] incident, supporters of the bombers came out, congratulating the bombers for their so-called 'heroic' act. Some of the formations are the very ones that will be participating in the Southern African Social Forum," he told a press conference.

"The Swaziland government is not aware of any government in the world that would sit and fold its arms, and allow strategies that would negatively affect the peace and security of the country concerned to be developed within its own borders."

Dlamini told the forum's Swaziland sponsor, the Coordinating Assembly of Non-Government Organisations (CANGO), an umbrella body of the country's NGOs, to inform SASF delegates that the conference was cancelled.

Instead, CANGO's director, Emmanuel Ndlangamandla, along with the SFTU and the Swaziland Federation of Labour, successfully petitioned the High Court to overturn the prohibition. The court declared that the government had acted beyond its power by imposing the ban, which was unconstitutional.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revoked an agreement with CANGO allowing them to use Manzini's International Trade Fair, which the ministry runs, for the SASF meeting. The delegates convened in marquees on the sports ground of a Manzini high school, where they discussed poverty alleviation strategies, HIV/AIDS issues and other humanitarian matters.

The forum's historic anti-capitalism thrust, established at its outset, was fuelled by the current global economic crisis, which delegates said would negatively impact on the poor in African nations.

"We were told that your coming would cause anarchy in the Kingdom of Swaziland," Comfort Mabuza, chairman of the CANGO board of directors, said in his address to the delegates. "We were told that bombs would explode, but no bombs exploded and there was no anarchy."

However, the police reported that a bomb was discovered and removed on Friday beneath a highway bridge in Ezulwini, five kilometres east of the capital, Mbabane. SASF officials said they had no knowledge of the incident.

jh/oa/he

Themes: (IRIN) Governance, (IRIN) Human Rights

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