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Swaziland

The ticking time bomb of Swaziland

South Africa's ANC President Jacob Zuma gives Swaziland tyrant Mswati III the red-carpet treatment.

For more on Swaziland, click HERE.

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

April 19, 2015 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), campaigning groups and labour-supporting members of the European parliament this month launched protests about the continued harassment and jailing of trade unionists and democracy campaigners in Swaziland. ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow has noted that, in Swaziland, “Violations against the fundamental rights of workers have become systemic.”

But apart from a few verbal sallies from non-governmental groups, there has been silence from South Africa. And this should be deeply worrying to those who are concerned about deepening democracy on the continent and in ensuring that a wealthy, often corrupt — if not entirely melanin deficient — elite do not continue to dominate.

Defend Swaziland unions! Free Mario Masuku!

Mario Masuku, jailed president of the People's United Democratic Movement.

For more on Swaziland, click HERE.

By Patrick Craven

March 17, 2015 -- Congress of South African Trade Unions, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions strongly condemns recent violent attacks by Swaziland police on trade union meetings and sends a message of solidarity and support to the Swazi workers struggling for democracy and the right to organise in free and independent trade unions.

On March 14, 2015, King Mswati’s police broke up a meeting of the executive board of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), and injured a union leader who was taking part. According to TUCOSWA leaders and the Swazi Observer, more than 300 plainclothed police forced participants to end the meeting in the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Centre and blocked the gates to the building. TUCOSWA has reported that Muzi Mhlanga, SNAT secretary general, was assaulted and had to seek medical care.

Swaziland: (Updated May 6) More arrests as monarchy targets democracy activists

For more on Swaziland, click HERE.

Update, May 6, 2014: The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) is pleased to hear that the seven PUDEMO members who were arrested for wearing PUDEMO t-shirts have been released on E15,000 bail each. It is unfortunate, however that the president of the organisation, Mario Masuku and student activist and secretary general of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), Maxwell Dlamini, were denied bail.

Maxwell and Masuku have both been charged with four counts of terrorism. On the first count, they are charged with contravening Section 11 (1)(a) of the Suppression of Terrorism Act No.3 of 2008. On the second charge they contravened Section 11 (1)(b) of the same Act. It is alleged that they unlawfully solicited support for and or gave support to a terrorist entity, PUDEMO. The state, as usual, is opposing their bail application on the grounds that they are a flight risks, this despite the fact that they have been admitted to bail in two other trials and never fled the country.

This indicates that the state simply wishes to see them behind bars for as long as possible, knowing that this will be punishment enough as it would take the case years before it comes before a judge who will most likely dismiss it. We wish to condemn this behavior by the Swazi authorities and demand the immediate release of the two political figures all political prisoner.

Swaziland: COSATU condemns arrest of PUDEMO secretary general

People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) general secretary Mlungisi Makhanya in jail for wearing his party's T-shirt.

For more on Swaziland, click HERE.

Statement by the Congress of South African Trade Unions

April 25, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- King Mswati’s jails are littered with well-meaning men and women of conscience, those who have refused to be cowed into submission by royal terror.

The recent arrest of the secretary general of the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Mlungisi Makhanya, and seven other members of PUDEMO and Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) is testimony to the reality of a country that has become a big national prison against its own people.

PUDEMO leaders were jailed for defying the Suppression of Terrorism Act and its predecessor, the 1973 decree that criminalises all forms of political activity and imprisons the rights of the people.

The crime of wearing the wrong colours, PUDEMO paraphernalia is a serious one under Swazi law as designed by the tinkhundla system, hence the legalised murder of Sipho Jele a few years back for wearing these banned colours.

Mike Marqusee: Further on BDS and 'singling out' Israel

“We in Swaziland are not doing enough for Palestine”, he said sternly. I replied that I thought they had their hands full already. And I couldn’t help but smile. But the comrade was not amused. He shook his head impatiently. “That’s not how it works. We ask for solidarity so we must give solidarity.”

By Mike Marqusee

January 17, 2014 -- http://www.mikemarqusee.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Further to “If not now, when?” On BDS and ‘singling out’ Israel", opponents of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid Israel accuse its supporters of unfairly “singling out” Israel while neglecting a host of other deplorable regimes. It seems that until we simultaneously campaign against all outstanding injustices, any campaign against a particular injustice will remain illegitimate.

Presumably, however, the liberal critics of BDS have no objection to the Palestinians themselves “singling out” Israel and campaigning against the particular injustice that affects them. So they’re permitted to call for international support but we are not permitted to answer that call.

Swaziland’s rotten elections: pro-democracy forces vindicated

For more on Swaziland's democracy movement, click HERE.

Statement by the Communist Party of Swaziland

October 1, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Information received by the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) indicate that the party and all other pro-democracy forces that wholly opposed the September 20 elections of the King Mswati regime did the right thing by calling on people not to be fooled by the sham poll.

Only just over 100,000 people voted in the primary elections. There was less than that voting in the second round. This is about 500,000 fewer voters than the Mswati regime trumpeted as likely to pack the voting stations. This is much less than in the previous elections, suggesting that popular dissatisfaction with the regime is increasing.

Mswati has no mandate to govern. This much is certain from the ban on political parties and organisations working for democracy. But skewed, closed and unfair elections with no other aim than to renew Mswati’s support base wholly failed to deliver. Mswati cannot even get enough people behind him when he rigs his own polls.

Among other things the CPS has information through its own election boycott campaign that:

Swaziland: Communist Party leader arrested during 'election' boycott campaign

Statement by the Communist Party of Swaziland

September 15, 2013 -- On September 14, Swaziland’s police special unit Lukhozi arrested Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) deputy general secretary Musa Dube while he was campaigning for a boycott of the “elections” being staged by the regime of King Mswati on September 20.

Comrade Dube has been confined at the notorious Manzini police station, and is due to appear in court this week on a charge of sedition.

The CPS has called for his immediate release, and for all progressive organisations and parties to condemn Dube’s arrest and detention.

“Sedition is the term Mswati uses to describe pro-democracy work”, said CPS general secretary in response to news of the arrest. “Our comrade was conducting campaign work to promote the message that the only elections that should be held in Swaziland are free and fair ones, where all political are able to take part on whatever platform they want. Mswati’s elections are the exact opposite of that. They are merely a way of selecting who will serve him best.”

Swaziland: South Africa's high commissioner rejects democratic transformation

The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) is banned and its leaders were arrested and prevented from celebrating Workers' Day (May 1) this year.

For more on Swaziland's democracy movement, click HERE.

Joint statement

May 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When the new South African High Commissioner to Swaziland, His Excellency Happy Mahlangu, presented his credentials to King Mswati, the Swazi Observer on May 3 reported him as saying:

I further wish to make use of this opportunity to express South Africa's best wishes to Your Majesty and the people of Swaziland for success during the forthcoming elections. I also want to assure you of South Africa's support regarding the Swaziland elections.

To make matters worse, here is what "His Excellency" had to say in the May 13 Swazi Times:

Swaziland: Liberation movement proposes path to democracy

By Skhumbuzo Phakat, PUDEMO secretary general

November 15, 2011 -- The only solution to the current crisis is a transition to democratic governance. The financial crisis, judicial crisis, education crisis, health crisis and the entire deep-seated structural crisis the Swazi regime is under can only be solved by democratisation.

The time has come for King Mswati to swallow his pride and succumb to the demands of the people. The king must unban political parties as a matter of urgency, to pave way for a democratic dispensation. A genuine political dialogue must begin that involves all political parties and other major stake holders. The problems in Swaziland are political and require a political solution.

The People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) believes that a genuine political dialogue process must be preceded by the unbanning of political parties, release of all political prisoners, return of all exiles. We reaffirm our profound conviction that real solutions to the challenges facing our country will come from a peaceful, genuine negotiation process based on real and effective participation by the people.

Democracy is not the preserve of a selected few; it is by its very nature a process guided by the principles of freedom, co-determination and shared responsibility. Essentially, therefore, we must engage all the various interests in our country in a process that will sufficiently address the political, economic and socio-cultural dynamics at play in Swaziland.

Eyewitness Swaziland: The birth of ‘Liberation Friday!’; 'The struggle for a democratic Swaziland continues'

By the Swaziland Democracy Campaign

September 10, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Friday,  September 9, marked the last day in the second Global Week of Action on Swaziland, culminating in a large protest march in Mbabane that resulted in pitched battles between a heavily armed and aggressive security detachment, and mostly poor workers, students and the unemployed, who gathered legally and peacefully as they have done all week.

On September 5 and 6 (Monday and Tuesday) only minor skirmishes took place, and the security services were restrained and largely non-provocative. This is as it should be. The marches were legal, and the organisers made it clear that they wanted to exercise the few rights that they have.

There have been more than 20 protests across the world, and seven inside South Africa. These took place outside of the various offices of the Reserve Bank of South Africa in order to draw attention to the ill-advised bailout of R2.4 billion that is being offered to the Swazi regime through the Reserve Bank, "facilitated" by the South African African National Congress (ANC) government. The protests were also about the need for solidarity with the democratic forces inside Swaziland.

Swaziland liberation movement leader: 'Build an unstoppable tsunami for freedom!'

Mario Masuku, president of the People's United Democratic Movement.

By Mario Masuku, president of the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) of Swaziland

September 9, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Over the past few days, the mass of the people of Swaziland: workers, students, women, rural and landless masses, churches and other faith-based organisations, social movements, NGOs and the rest of civil society networks have confronted the tinkhundla system on a scale unheard of before.

This week alone has seen an unprecedented 30,000-40,000 people fill the streets of our country to demand freedom. This must be the beginning of intensified action. As we regroup and organise for April next year and the third global week of protest in September 2012, let us mobilise even more. Let us build the profile of the global week to reach an unprecedented 100 cities around the world. Let our allies across the world build more chapters of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) to intensify the global offensive.

Swaziland: Thousands defy monarchy in second global week of protest


On September 6, 2011, the king's portrait is burned during a pro-democracy demonstration in Swaziland's biggest town, Manzini.

By Mike Marqusee

September 7, 2011 -- Red Pepper, via MikeMarqusee.com -- The second Global Week of Action in Swaziland, organised by the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, which concludes September 9, has already scored remarkable successes amid terrible sacrifices. The week marks a new highpoint in the ongoing confrontation between an absolute monarchy that for decades has plundered the country and an increasingly emboldened democracy movement.

Events kicked off on September 5 with a mass demonstration through the heart of the capital city, Mbabane. One of the COSATU delegates who joined the protest reported: “The streets of Mbabane have been occupied by a range of different people, including workers, students, the legal profession, community and church activists, and all marching in unison and toyi-toying for freedom. They are united in one purpose, to challenge the continuing rule of Africa’s last absolute monarchy. There is an almost carnival atmosphere in the air!”

South Africa: ANC government shuts door on Swaziland democracy movement

King Mswati III: sitting pretty after ANC "bail out".

August 5, 2011 -- South Africa's African National Congress government has defied supporters of democracy in Swaziland and granted the repressive absolute monarchy a five-year, R2.4 billion loan. The bailout, which was announceded by King Mswati III on August 3, has been condemned by the Swazi democracy movement and its supporters in South Africa. While its conditions do not require democratic reforms, the Swazi people will be subject to harsh austerity in order for the regime to repay the loan.

* * *

August 4, 2011 -- The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) is calling upon the South African government to stop dilly dallying at a time when it has a genuine opportunity to exert pressure on Swazi authorities to stop human rights abuses and end the Tinkhundla dictatorship.

June 2011: Swaziland United Democratic Front first-ever newsletter published

SUDF Newsletter June 2011

The Coca-colonisation of Swaziland

King Mswati III tours Coca Cola Africa Foundation projects in 2010.

By Peter Kenworthy

June 22, 2011 -- Pambazuka News -- Next time you crack open a Coke to quench your thirst, spare a thought for the sugarcane workers in Swaziland. Coca-Cola is one of the largest and wealthiest companies in the world, as well as being one of the world’s best-known brands. The desperate situation of the poverty-stricken workers in the sugarcane fields in Swaziland, who harvest the sugarcane that is the most important ingredient of African Coke, on the other hand, is a well kept secret. Their plight is not deemed newsworthy. They live their lives in a brutal and repressive absolute monarchy where King Mswati III and a small elite live in luxury while the majority of Swazis live in abject poverty.

More than 1 billion cans or bottles of Coca-Cola are consumed every day and the Coca-Cola Company makes huge profits every year, over US$15 billion in 2005.

Swaziland: Urgent action needed: Trade unionists arrested; COSATU condemns arrests

Urgent action needed: Trade unionists arrested in Swaziland: Repression continues!

May 14, 2011 -- The Swaziland Democracy Campaign has just received urgent news that a group of leading trade unionists have been arrested by the security police in the Lubombo Region of Swaziland. The comrades were attending a meeting to discuss the establishment of a regional division of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) the new democratic trade union federation that was launched on May Day this year, and which brings together all the trade unions in Swaziland into a historic single organisation.

Those arrested include the following:

Communist Party of Swaziland launched

For an end to poverty and oppression

Kick out the monarchy, kick out capitalism

For working class power and socialism in Swaziland

Statement of the central committee of the Communist Party of Swaziland on the occasion of its inaugural conference, KaMhlushwa, South Africa, April 9-10, 2011

April 10, 2011 -- Swazi men and women from inside Swaziland and in exile convened in Kamhlushwa, close to the Swazi border, over the weekend of April 9-10 for the inaugural conference of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS).

The formation of the CPS comes at a decisive point in the freedom struggle in Swaziland. Time is running out for the Mswati regime, which is directly responsible for the impoverishment, low life expectancy and heavy exploitation of the majority of Swazi people.

Swaziland: (Updated April 15) Monarchy cracks down on pro-democracy protests

Swazi regime’s 'victory' is a pyrrhic one

By Peter Kenworthy

(Earlier reports and statements below.)

April 14, 2011 -- Pambazuka News -- Swaziland’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Lutfo Dlamini, called the brutally crushed peaceful protest or uprising against Swaziland’s absolute monarchy, that lets a small elite live in luxury while two thirds of the population live below the poverty line, a “failure” yesterday.

I beg to differ. In fact, the so-called “victory” of the regime against the demonstrators, whose call for democracy and rule of law in the absolute monarchy that is Swaziland, may turn out to be a pyrrhic one,  making Swazi’s less likely to accept reformist measures once the inevitable change that most people want comes.

Because while the demonstrators didn’t manage to amass the numbers they had hoped for, this was mainly due to the intimidation, blocking tactics and violence of the police and security forces that did everything they could to stop people from assembling in Manzini.

COSATU salutes Egyptian and Tunisian working classes

From the album Women of Egypt by Leil-Zahra Mortada.

By Bongani Masuku, Congress of South African Trade Unions international relations secretary

January 31, 2011 -- The African working class has come of age. With the massive revolutionary struggles underway in both Tunisia and Egypt against despots, the history of the continent has been rewritten.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the developments that have dramatically changed the political and class landscape on the continent, particularly in a region known for a false sense of stability and peace, yet brutally repressive against workers and the poor.

We also note that the big powers, particularly the US, invested a lot of resources into both countries, particularly Egypt, as the pioneer agent of their interests in that part of the world and the second-biggest recipient of US aid after Israel. The repressive machinery of Egypt has been built through the resources provided by the US, while that of Tunisia has been primarily through France.

Swaziland: Historic unity and merger of trade union federations

By Bheki Ntshalintshali, COSATU deputy general secretary

October 2010 -- COSATU has welcomed the great leap forward and giant step taken by workers of Swaziland in resolving to unite by merging the two federations; Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL), together with the independent Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) to form a new giant federation. It marks the deepening and strengthening of the most progressive, militant and revolutionary traditions constantly being evolved by the working class movement the world over.

This breakthrough comes after years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice behind the scenes to diagnose, confront and clear all obstacles in the way of unity. Frank and brutally honest engagements, painful and demanding persuasions, as well as engaging feedbacks to members are all the hallmarks of a transparent, democratic and accountable process characterised by traditions of worker control. Once this part of the journey has been travelled with success, the nearing horizons only serve to inspire the march on.

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