Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Swazi democrats are under increasing pressure as police crackdown on supporters of freedom in Swaziland.

Yesterday (11 May 2009), the offices of a non-government organisation, the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice (FSEJ), based in Manzini, was raided by police, led by the head of Manzini Criminal Investigations Department.

The FSEJ, by its own account, teaches community-based organisations and members of the public, ‘issues of human rights, constitutionalism and on all kinds of democracy’.

The police took away a DVD of a meeting organised by the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a programme for the May Day celebration at Salesian Sports Grounds and three white t-shirts inscribed Release Mario Masuku
– the freedom fighter.

Although the police refused to comment publicly about the reasons for the raid, it is clear from what they confiscated that the FSEJ poses no threat to the stability of Swaziland and the police just wants to intimidate anyone who stands up for freedom and democracy

The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, today (12 May 2009) said, ‘Government is out to confiscate property belonging to the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO).’

Both PUDEMO and SWAYOCO are banned organisations in Swaziland. Barnabas Dlamini, the kingdom’s illegally-appointed prime minister, has branded both as ‘terrorist’ organisations and members and supporters can face up to 25 years in jail.

This is not the first state action undertaken since Swaziland introduced its Suppression of Terrorism Act in 2008. In February 2009 homes of supporters of SWAYOCO were raided and its leaders taken into custody; police smashed up a youth rally (again in February) and in March, the prime minister threatened to sack all civil servants who advocated for freedom in Swaziland.

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