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Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition solidarity with the people of Swaziland

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition solidarity with the people of Swaziland

"If there is anything that we must learn from the upheavals going on in the northern part of our continent, it is that the legitimate expectations of the citizens of our countries cannot be taken for granted. We must, therefore, continue at the SADC level to consolidate democracy through the establishment of institutions that uphold the tenets of good government, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Zambian President, Ruppiah Banda

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (The Coalition) stands in solidarity with human rights organisations, students, political and labour movements in Swaziland in their quest for freedom, democracy and good governance. Since Tuesday 12 April 2011 when the Swaziland government quashed a peaceful demonstration organised by pro- democracy activists acting within their rights to assemble and express themselves as enshrined in regional and international protocols, hundreds of activists have been detained and tortured by state agents. The Coalition calls upon the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the African Union to intervene in bringing an end to the continued victimisation of pro- democracy activists in Swaziland..

Swaziland, the last remaining absolute monarch in Africa, is riddled with cases of gross human rights violations including arrests, torture and murders of human rights activists. In addition, the Southern African country banned opposition political parties negating the principle of multi- partyism in democratic institutions in violation of regional protocols including Article 5 of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Treaty (1992) which outlines the objectives of SADC (to which Swaziland is a part of), which commits the Member States to "promote common political values, systems and other shared values which are transmitted through institutions, which are democratic, legitimate and effective.' Democratic institutions promote multi- party democracy as opposed to a one party state and uphold the freedoms of its citizens which are, among other freedoms, association and assembly as enshrined in Articles 11 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights.

The Coalition wishes to remind the Swaziland government that, as the Zambian President, Rupiah Banda said at the last SADC Troika summit held in Livingstone, Zambia in March 2011, when citizens make genuine demands, they should be taken seriously. When the wheels of change start turning, only genuine reforms can appease the citizens as was witnessed in the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions. Change is constant and inevitable.

The Coalition holds that SADC has an obligation to 'promote the development of democratic institutions and practices within the territories of State Parties and encourage the observance of universal human rights as provided for in the Charter and Conventions of the Organization of African Unity [African Union] and the United Nations" as highlighted in the SADC Treaty. The regional body should thus move to stop the Swaziland government from further suppressing the will of its people and demanding that the monarch upholds democratic principles.

In light of the above, The Coalition demands;

1. That King Mswati and the Swaziland government adhere to principles enshrined in the SADC Treaty by ceasing forthwith further victimisation of its citizens and observing the rule of law, human rights and principles of democracy.

That SADC lives up to its obligations as noted in its founding treaty by putting in place measures to stop the Swaziland monarch from continuing its onslaught on citizens and pushing the monarch to initiate democratic reforms including adoption of multi- party democracy.

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