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.”

The police have been closely monitoring CPS activity against the elections. For days they had shadowed Dube and a fellow activist, who was with him, before moving in. His fellow comrade managed to escape. Dube allegedly had a PUDEMO (People’s United Democratic Movement) t-shirt in his possession at the time of his arrest.

The intimidation of activists campaigning for a boycott of the elections increased following a go-ahead recently by police commissioner Issac Magagula, who opined about the “threat” to the elections by “groups and individuals”.

The Mswati regime has been buoyed in its elections sham by the generally uncritical and permissive attitude to them by most African states, the Southern African Development Community, and the international community. Only a week ago, the British “think tank” Chatham House timed a visit to Swaziland to voice general approval for the elections and against the pro-democracy movement’s opposition to them.

“Despite this, most Swazis are aware that the elections are a silly game of Mswati’s”, said Kunene. “No one believes that they are about improving anything in the country.”

“Maybe if Swaziland was strategically important and a larger country, you would see heavyweight nations and others, and even some supposedly progressive forces, gushing about the aching need for democracy. But since it isn’t they are not really interested, and they’re happy to see things remain more or less as they are.”

Kunene said that the arrest of Musa Dube must be condemned as a human-rights violation.

“We urge progressive organizations and individuals everywhere to slam this act of intimidation. And they must be vigilant in the days leading up to the elections. We are bound to see more police harassment of people who protest against the elections.”

Swaziland Solidarity Network condemns arrest of CPS leader

By Lucky Lukhele, Swaziland Solidarity Network

September 16, 2013 -- In the midst of a so-called democratic election, King Mswati has arrested a top-ranking member of the Communist Party of Swaziland for exercising his inalienable right to express his views.

Musa Dube, who is also the deputy general secretary of the party, appeared today at the Manzini magistrate court before a magistrate. He is charged with two counts: One being that he contravened section 4(c) of the sedition act in that, at Kakhoza in Manzini, on September 24, 2013, he unlawfully distributed material containing seditious statements to numerous people unknown to the crown. On the second he was charged under section 4(e) of the same act that on the same day at the same place he was found in possession of the same pamphlets. He will appear again on September 25, 2013, pending his committal to high court.

He is currently at the Zakhele Remand Centre, where he will for the duration of his remand period.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) reiterates the calls by the "Break the Chains Campaign" that more action against the Mswati regime is needed on the ground. This is yet another instance which contradicts the spirit of free and fair elections, yet the SADC observer mission will not even record it in its report to the regional body.

We condemn this outright violation of basic human rights and call upon all our solidarity partners to join us on September 20 when we will be blocking all borders leading to the country. We demand that Musa Dube, and all other political prisoners, be set free immediately.