Monday, January 12, 2009


Opposition to Swaziland’s Suppression of Terrorism Act (SPA) is growing in the kingdom, following a critical report from Amnesty International, published on Friday (9 January 2009).

Amnesty said the provisions of the SPA threaten human rights, are inherently repressive, breach Swaziland’s obligations under international and regional human rights laws and the Swaziland Constitution, and are already leading to violations of the rights of freedom of expression, association and assembly.’

Swaziland’s independent newspapers this weekend were forthright in their criticism of the act and in particular of the response of Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini to the Amnesty Report.

Dlamini dismissed the report as a neo-colonial attack on Swaziland and said that the SPA was created by copying a ‘model’ terrorism act supplied by the Commonwealth.

Times Sunday writer Vusi Sibisi, yesterday (11 January 2009) called Dlamini ‘mischievous and irresponsible’.

Sibisi wrote, ‘It now seems probable that government is starting to believe to be true its lie that the anti-terrorism law was a baby of the Unites States and the United Nations.

‘This lie must be dismissed with the contempt it deserves. After all, how long have the ruling class hidden behind sovereignty, uniqueness and consensus when defending the indefensible abhorrent Tinkhundla political system in the face of international pressure to introduce multi-party democracy?

‘Yet now we are supposed to believe that the US or the UN imposed the draconian anti-terrorism law on this country. If indeed the Prime Minister was recycled to the position on someone’s presumption that he is the brightest man alive today in this the Kingdom of eSwatini, then there is either something wrong with all of us or our society is sick. Alternatively, he was recycled for his ability to arrest lightning.’

Thulani Thwala, editor of the Swazi News, writing in his own newspaper on Saturday (10 January 2009), also criticised Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini.

Thwala wrote, ‘To me the PM spoke out of tune when he defended the Act with his back against the wall from what I would personally define as fair criticism it attracted from Amnesty International, not being the first.’

He added, ‘To hit back in the fashion that the PM did to Amnesty highlights the underlying and glaring self-importance and oozing hate of any form of criticism.’

The editor of the Times Sunday, Mbongeni Mbingo, writing in his own newspaper yesterday (11 January 2009), said the Swazi police were out of control. ‘I am personally very terrified of the police, and what they can get up to, and believe that with the Suppression of Terrorism Act, they are becoming an even bigger threat to human rights. In fact, they are becoming more and more law unto themselves. God only knows who they are answerable to.

Mbingo adds, ‘While the Suppression of Terrorism Act is all about maintaining peace and fighting terrorism, why then do we have an Act that seeks to suppress the people of this country? Why are we becoming a nation that must not be allowed to think, talk, and freely associate among each other? What good does this do, other than to anger the masses, and quickly demand to be set free?

‘Whose brilliant idea is this?

‘If this Act is meant for the good of this country, why then is government becoming so defensive? Why are they not willing change the Act where it infringes on the rights of the people — or is this because the people do not know better?’

He added, ‘Let me get back to my point. It certainly does this country no favours that we arrested Mario Masuku and seemed to do a brilliant job at cocking his arrest and the charges. It appears we had no clue whatsoever why he was even arrested, and to continue keeping him behind bars reinforces the belief that Swaziland is now like a volcano, just waiting to explode. Can you imagine what would have happened had Mario Masuku not arrested?

So, why was he arrested—to appease certain individuals, or to give people another reason to want an end to this ‘unique democracy’ of the Swazi people?

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