Saturday, February 14, 2009


Yesterday (Friday 13 February 2009) saw the first of what is hoped to be a regular weekly picket in South Africa to protest against the continuing lack of democracy in Swaziland.

The following is a statement on the picket issued by the Swaziland Solidarity Network.




Swaziland is Sub-Saharan Africa’s last remaining absolute monarchy. Despite the people of Swaziland and their democratic political leadership pleading for dialogue, to find a common solution to their problems, based on the creation of a multi-party democratic framework, King Mswati III’s reaction has been irrational.

He has chosen to bury his head in the sand, thus rebuffing a historic opportunity to arrest the tragedy and find a peaceful resolution of the country's political crisis of authoritarian rule.

The King has intensified repression. He rules with an iron fist. Corruption has escalating and rife, such as a whopping R100 million [about 14 million US dollars] expenditure for his 40th birthday. He has ignored the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic and thousands of AIDS orphans. Apart from his personal and private businesses, the economy remains largely neglected and on the brink of collapsing.

The majority of Swaziland people who wish to see a democratic solution, to gain essential rights and conceded to allow their King’s traditional role to be harmonised with popular rights, based on a new democratic constitution are squeezed into death, starvation, unemployment and misery.

Impervious and hiding away from his people’s real expectations, to cease the cultural genocide and acknowledge their suffering, the King of Swaziland, through his evil and illegitimate Prime Minister, [Barnabas Dlamini] there has been escalating illegal detentions, prohibited all rudimentary freedoms, passed a morally repulsive anti-terrorism act and used it to detain political activists.

It is well known that PUDEMO President Mario Masuku is a major proponent of a peaceful and democratic solution, has challenged the King to embrace the proposed democratic framework and to engage in negotiations. President Masuku is languishing in jail since 15 November 2008, without clarity of his indictment. He is ill but firmly convicted, that the King ‘can cut the flowers, but you cannot stop the spring’.

As part of the international community, recognizing huge improvements in the regional political conflicts, especially Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and progress towards normalizing those situations, we cannot ignore the pariah attitude of King Mswati III.

Under the leadership of the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) in South Africa, we will therefore embark on a campaign of mass action and pickets at all Swaziland embassies and consulates across the country and submit memoranda of demands to his government, appealing towards him to heed the calls for the:

- Unconditional and immediate release of PUDEMO President Cde MARIO Masuku and all political prisoners;

- A democratically elected constituent assembly to develop a new constitution for a new constitutional Multi-party democracy;

- Removal of the draconian 1973 decree which bans political parties, trade unions and all forms of legitimate political activity;

- The unconditional return of all exiles;

- The establishment of a democratically elected constituent assembly to draft a legitimate democratic multiparty constitution for the country.

We also call on SADC [Southern Africa Development Community] leaders to bring Mswati into order, recuse him from his position as SADC Chair of the Organ of Defence and Security and force him to implement democratic reforms.

SSN declares national protests at the Swaziland consulate in Johannesburg, starting at 12h30-14h00, Braamfontein Centre, Jorissen Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg. These protests will take place until the release of the Swaziland peoples President Mario Masuku. Other venues will be outlined in the program to be released in due course.

Issued by the Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN] – South African chapter.

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