Monday, January 26, 2009


Swaziland’s Foreign Minister Lufto Dlamini is under a new attack after making accusations against a top UK diplomat.

Dlamini, who was roundly criticised last week for condemning Maurice Parker, the US Ambassador to Swaziland who had spoken out on behalf of Swazi pressure groups who were advocating for democracy.

Now Dlamini has upset the British after he said the Deputy High Commissioner Mark Norton was in league with terrorists in Swaziland.

Dlamini claimed that Norton had been spotted at night distributing suspicious material to political activists at the Jubilee Park in Manzini.

Dlamini told a press conference that Norton was no longer a ‘diplomat’ but was instead a ‘progressive’.

Dlamini offered no evidence to support his claim.

Norton angered the Swaziland Government in November 2008 when he tried to visit Mario Masuku, the president of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) who is held in the Matsapha Maximum Security Prison where he awaits trial on terrorism charges.

Now the British High Commission has dismissed Dlamini’s allegations of supporting terrorist groups as unfounded. But it said it had met opposition groups such as PUDEMO and would continue to do so.

The past week has come as a bit of a shock for Dlamini and other supporters of the undemocratic regime in Swaziland. Following the inaugural speech of US President Barak Obama last Tuesday (20 January 2009) in which he said that those who ‘cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history’.

Although the President didn’t mention Swaziland specifically, his words have been widely interrupted to mean that undemocratic states such as Swaziland will not receive support from the US in future unless they mend their ways.

Ambassador Parker immediately stated that his embassy would support groups in Swaziland that were working towards securing democracy in the kingdom, which has sub-Saharan Africa’s last remaining absolute monarch.

Meanwhile, the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) has added its voice to condemn Dlamini for his attack on the US Ambassador. ‘The outburst by the Minister of Foreign Affairs shows how the ruling party is fearful of change and the truth,’ it said in a statement.

It went on to say having ambassadors of Parker’s calibre in Swaziland was of great benefit to the ordinary Swazi. It also said there were few diplomats who stood for the interest of the people when dealing with an iron fist state.

It seems to me that the pendulum has swung towards the democrats and Swazi ruling elite hasn’t been able to stop this. Its only response so far has been to deny that there is a problem and to try to discredit the senior foreign diplomats who speak out for freedom.

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