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Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) Press Statement
12 April 2012
Mswati Regime goes Berserk! Joburg Protesters Experience Swazification!
At lunchtime today, representatives of more than 20 organisations gathered outside of the Swaziland Consular Office in Braamfontein Johannesburg. They were there to deliver a stinging memorandum in support of all those who are campaigning for a democratic Swaziland. On this day, April 12th, 39 years ago, all semblance of democratic rule in Swaziland was abandoned in favour of rule by decree by the Swazi Royal Elite, who shamefully continue to this day. It is nothing short of a crime against humanity that the Royal Elite squander the resources of the country on their billionaire lifestyles, while paying off a fake and chronically sycophantic 'government' and maintain a brutal and ill disciplined security cluster that is prepared to do their dirty work of crushing dissent.
What the many protesters in Johannesburg experienced today was what the Swazi people experience whenever they want to exercise their democratic rights, in other words what is now known as Swazification, a brutal denial of basic human and civil rights. Before the peaceful protest in Johannesburg could start today, the Swazi consul had mobilised an aggressive and completely inappropriate array of police and security personal to disrupt and prevent the protest. Coordinators were manhandled and insulted, and illegally prevented from moving in public areas. However, the protesters regrouped and conducted a lively and spirited protest nearby in full view of the public who hooted and gave their support. A memorandum was handed over through a guarded and locked gate, but a birthday present for King Mswati containing documentary evidence of the abuses that have been perpetuated by the regime was rejected. The birthday present also contained an amount of R8 (approx 1$US) which is what 73% of Swazis are forced to live on, while the King spends over R1.4 billion on his birthday celebration later this month. Also included was a birthday card with a clear message: "Abdicate! For a peoples government Now!"
Meanwhile as the memorandum was being handed over in Johannesburg, (copies of which are being made available following this release), democracy activists in Swaziland were feeling the full force of the security cluster that ruthlessly protects royal privilege in Mbabane. More than 10 respected and seasoned trade union leaders and democracy activists were detained, mishandled, bullied and insulted. More recently, four senior trade union leaders have been forcibly bundled into a military vehicle and taken at great speed to an unknown venue. We fear for their safety and well-being. It was under similar circumstances that Trade Union Comrade Sipho Jele died in custody two years ago. A well respected commentator on events in Mbabane wrote today :
"The police, army and other security forces are running around the streets like wild dogs being let off a leash. They push and bully anyone who gets in their way. Old people, informal traders, school students are being manhandled as if they were international terrorists! If they find a protester all hell is let loose. They are rude, crude and clearly feel able to do whatever they wish to protect their benign benefactor. Swaziland today is ruled by a King who has lost his grip on reality, who is backed by an increasingly insecure security apparatus, that once believed itself unassailable. But both are driven by a fear that the inevitable is coming, and they know that they cannot stop it. Control of Swaziland is slipping away from them. In fact, by their actions today they have shown how fragile their rule is. They are the authors of their own downfall, and so be it. That they will be held in contempt by future generations in a democratic Swaziland is inevitable, and should, we hope cause some of them to think carefully about their actions in between baton charges''
On today's evidence alone, this is a regime that is rotten to the core. Any pretence that it might have started to accept the need to democratise, or to engage in a 'social dialogue' are shallow lies aimed at appeasing the IMF or governments in the region. In June, the ILO Congress in Geneva will revisit the special paragraph on Swaziland. On the evidence that has been gathered over the last few days, not only should the special paragraph be renewed, but further actions should be initiated against the regime, which has effectively 'banned' a lawful trade union federation, and abused it leaders and the people they represent.
The struggle continues. Despite the roadblocks, and fishing raids to arrest and detain known democracy activists, there is a palpable change taking place in Swaziland. The people are no longer intimidated. They will not be stopped from expressing their democratic spirit, they have a democratic Swaziland in their sights. Nothing will ever be the same again. As a young activist said today, paraphrasing Humpty Dumpty, 'Not even all the Kings horses and all the Kings men can put tinkhudla back together'.
Long live the SUDF Long live!
Long live TUCOSWA Long Live!
Support the Democratic Struggle of the Swazi People!
Demand a Peoples Government Now!
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+263 773 014693, +263 773 850862
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Promoting Informed Participation of Youths in National Development.