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Swaziland: Crackdown on eve of protests, PUDEMO leader arrested

Protest march in Manzini, September 7, 2010.

[See also "Swaziland: Small country, big struggle -- global day of action for democracy".]

By Lucky Lukhele and Norm Dixon

September 8, 2010 -- The deputy president of Swaziland's People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) Sikhumbuzo Phakathi was arrested on September 6 at the Phongola border post as the Swazi police and army were deporting a delegation of South African activists from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). PUDEMO president Mario Masuku was detained before the start a protest march on September 7 to mark the global day for democracy in Swaziland. He was "escorted home" by police to prevent his participation.

Swaziland: Small country, big struggle -- global day of action for democracy

In Swaziland you can get locked up for wearing this T-shirt.

[The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC), formed by trade unions, political parties, civil society groups and churches, has called for a global day of action on September 7, 2010. It will include a mass protest and show of “defiance” in Swaziland. Delegates from the international labour movement will join the action in Swaziland and messages of support for the SDC are to be delivered to Swazi embassies worldwide. Click HERE to download the international call, or read the document below the article.]

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By Mike Marqusee

August 23, 2010 -- -- Swaziland is a small country with a big problem. The 1.3 million inhabitants of the land-locked southern African kingdom live under the thumb of one of the world’s last absolute monarchies, a venal and repressive regime whose plunder of the country is systematic and comprehensive.

Swaziland Democracy Campaign launched: `Justice denied anywhere is justice denied everywhere'

Swaziland's absolute monarch and tyrant, King Mswati III.

By the Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Campaigning for democracy in Swaziland NOW!

February 25, 2010 -- Johannesburg, South Africa --  On February 21, 2010, the world witnessed the launch of a global initiative to support pro-democracy forces in Swaziland: the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). This is a product of many years of working together between South African and Swaziland organisations, which includes political parties, trade unions, churches, youth and students organisations.

The SDC is an expression of the just and legitimate struggles waged by the Swazi people in their quest for human dignity, justice, democracy and human rights. It endorses the principle of justice denied anywhere is justice denied everywhere. Further, that the freedom of all the peoples of the world remains incomplete without the freedom of the people of Swaziland.

Our program

In this regard we wish to state that immediate campaigning priorities will be:

Swaziland: `The people are getting angrier and angrier'; Swaziland Democracy Campaign to be launched

February 13, 2010 -- B.V. Dlamini, deputy secretary general of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, spoke to London Student's Ingrida Kerusauskaite about the way forward for Swaziland. London Student is Europe's largest independent student newspaper. This interview is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

What is the political situation in Swaziland? What does that mean to the citizens?

The country is ruled under a dictatorship, where there is no separation of power: the judiciary, legislative and executive powers are all invested in the king, to the extent that the government cannot properly advise the monarch. First they have to know what he wants to hear, and then they tell him what he wants to hear, not what he has to hear. The distribution of resources in the country is very uneven: 69 per cent of the population live under the poverty line, despite the fact that Swaziland is regarded as a middle-income country by the international financial institutions. There are also serious violations of human rights.

Swaziland has an international reputation of being an “ideal tourist destination”. What effect does that have on the country?

Swaziland: Democracy leader released after 340 days, struggle continues

September 22, 2009 -- Morning Star -- Democracy activists in Swaziland celebrated on September 22 after the leader of the country's opposition was acquitted of terrorism charges and freed from prison after 340 days. Banned People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) leader Mario Masuku (pictured above) was arrested and charged with terrorism on November 15, 2008. The charge centred on seditious statements he had allegedly made during the funeral of a militant.

Judge Mbutfo Mamba acquitted Mr Masuku because the evidence was too weak to link him to the charge.

As Mr Masuku left the court amid scenes of jubilation, he told his comrades that the struggle for democracy and human rights in Africa's last absolute monarchy had only just begun.

Hillary Clinton in Africa: Promoting US corporate and military interests

Hillary Clinton and South African President Jacob Zuma.

By Firoze Manji

August 6, 2009 -- International media attention is focused on the August 3-14 visit of the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to seven countries in Africa. Judging by the behaviour of representatives of many African governments, there are great expectations that this visit –- following so closely after US President Barack Obama's two earlier visits to Egypt and Ghana this year -– holds out vast hope for Africa.

But what is the significance of Clinton’s visit? Does it really hold out hope for Africa? There are three dimensions to this visit: The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); oil and natural resource exploitation; and security.

Swazis claim their democratic space

By Jan Sithole, general secretary of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions

July 16, 2009 -- Ask most people around the world who are not from Swaziland what they know about the country, the most likely response will be a blank stare. Those who have heard of Swaziland are mired in stereotypes about an exotic mountain kingdom.

As a Swazi citizen who was born, brought up and lives in Swaziland, these conjured images bring weary smiles every time I am confronted with them, especially when I am abroad on an assignment representing the trade union movement.

Yes, Swaziland is a beautiful kingdom at the southern tip of the African continent, dotted with mountains and full of exciting flora and fauna and other natural scenery. Yes, Swaziland is very proud of its rich cultural heritage, which includes the famous annual reed dance. And yes our country is so small that it is often barely visible on the African map.

But we are all that and more.

Swaziland, just like the rest of Africa and the global South, is a country grappling with all the contradictions and challenges thrown up by history, globalisation and internal power politics.

COSATU: Working-class internationalism in the era of deepening global economic crisis

COSATU-supported protest in solidarity with the people of Swaziland.

Declaration of the Congress of South African Trade Unions International Solidarity Conference, Johannesburg, June 24-26, 2009.

COSATU -- Gathered at this historic International Solidarity Conference of COSATU are workers, activists and internationalists committed to a new and just world order, free from poverty, hunger and injustice. We have concluded two days of intensive engagements, critical reflections and dedicated work to assess and ascertain the revolutionary mood of workers and the poor masses of the world, the ebbs and flows of the global class struggle and the state of readiness by working-class forces and their organisations to wage a decisive battle for the new and just global economic system.

Swaziland: Jailed liberation fighter Mario Masuku: `A brief autobiography'

PUDEMO President Mario Masuku.

Mario Masuku is the president of the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) -- Insika Yenkhululeko YeMaswati -- of Swaziland. Since 1983 this organisation has been banned in Swaziland because political parties are illegal. PUDEMO has called for multi-party democracy since its formation and believes the people shall govern. In November 2008, Mario Masuku was again arrested and put in prison by the repressive regime of King Mswati III, where he remains. The Swaziland government has no case and continues to delay his trial. Most recently, Masuku has been subjected to humilating and degrading treatment in prison. Meanwhile, on May 9, Mswati was feted in Pretoria at the inauguration of South African President Jacob Zuma of the African National Congress.

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By Mario Masuku

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.

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