Monday, October 20, 2008


The illegal appointment of Barnabas Dlamini as Swaziland Prime Minister reminded me of the old saying ‘Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.’

We have been here before with Dlamini. He was PM of Swaziland from 1996 to 2003 and his tenure was marked by an increase in state violence against the Swazi people; a general disregard for law and order; and a campaign of bullying and intimidation designed to keep the ordinary people of Swaziland in their place.

There are too many atrocities to report in one blogpost, but let us remember what happened immediately Dlamini took up office last time around.

He was appointed PM after King Mswati III dismissed the sitting Prime Minister Prince Mbilini. Within weeks a reign of terror was unleashed against the Swazi people.

The international human rights organisation Amnesty International reported in 1997

‘Dozens of trade unionists, political activists, students and street vendors were detained for short periods for alleged participation in illegal strikes, demonstrations and meetings. Most were released without charge, but some were charged with public order offences.

‘Detainees were reportedly tortured and ill-treated by police. In one case, on 5 October, police allegedly tear-gassed, shot at, kicked and beat with batons and fists 18 regional executive members of the Swaziland Association of Students – none of them more than 18 years old – detained when they attempted to deliver a petition to the Big Bend police station concerning the detention without charge or trial of fellow students. All were released without charge 24 hours later. A number of the students were later rearrested and detained for up to four days at Lobamba police station, where they were further assaulted and tortured.

‘Although most were again released without charge, at least one student had been charged, but not brought to trial, by the end of the year.’

On Thursday (16 October 2008) King Mswati publicly told Dlamini to go and sort out the ‘terrorists’ in Swaziland and those who support them. If we learn nothing else from history at least let it be that Dlamini will ensure Swazi blood is shed before too long.

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