Thursday, September 3, 2009


Media release

Swaziland Campaign for Democracy

Join us for global days of action in support of the Swazi people’s struggle for democracy

4th September, 2009

@ Oshoek Border Post, Mpumalanga

In solidarity with the people of Swaziland who toil under impossible conditions to eke out a meager existence to maintain their dignity, the Campaign for democracy in Swaziland calls on

· SADC to place the issue of “Democracy Now” for Swaziland high on their agenda, and in so-doing we call on SADC to remove King Mswati from the organ Troika on Politics, defense and Security Cooperation.

· We call for the immediate and unconditional release of PUDEMO President Mario Masuku,

· We call for the immediate unbanning of People’s Organisations

· And finally we call on the South African Government to terminate its working relations and support of all dictators including Swaziland.

September 6th marks 41 years of Swaziland’s independence from British colonial rule. Unfortunately, for the majority of Swazi’s, independence rings hollow and is evidenced by the fact that seventy percent of the one million population live in abject poverty earning less than one US dollar a day. Up to 600,000 people had to receive some form of food aid in the past 18 months to fend off starvation. HIV/Aids was taken a heavy toll, with more than 40% of the population believed to be infected. In Swaziland, 1 in 3 girls has experienced sexual violence by age 18. 22% of Swazi women between ages of 15 and 24 are HIV positive. Life expectancy has plummeted to one of the lowest in the world,: 40 years (men), 39 years (women) (UN)

Meanwhile, King Mswati has amassed a personal fortune worth 200 million US dollars, as the beneficiary of two funds created by his father Sobhuza II in trust for the Swazi nation. During his reign, he has absolute personal discretion over use of the income. As well as his personal wealth, King Mswati receives money from the Swazi taxpayer. In this year’s Swaziland national budget he gets E130 million (about 16 million US dollars) for his family’s upkeep.

This is more than the money Swaziland will spend on capital expenditure for education (E113 million) or capital expenditure on social security and welfare (E73 million).
Or put another way, 70 percent of the families of one million Swazi people live on less than E10 a day, while the Royal Family gets by on a third of a million a day.

Media freedom and freedom of expression are non-existent in Swaziland. Political parties have been banned from operating since 1973. Members of political parties are hounded and languishing in jail on trumped up charges.

We call on all South Africans, Swazis and people of the region to support the “Day of Global Action for Democracy in Swaziland at the Oshoek Border post of the 4th September. Transport from Johannesburg and Mpumalanga will be provided.

This marks the beginning of a series of activities aimed at supporting the Swazi people’s struggle for democracy and forcing Mswati to change and embrace democracy.

We also take this opportunity to announce the Joint Swazi Campaign Committee made up of representatives from both Swaziland and South Africa as agreed at the last Swazi-South Africa Consultative meeting held in Benoni on the 12th August, 2009.

The Joint Swazi Campaign Committee is made up of;

1. Venitia Govender – Co-convenor, South Africa

2. Barnes Dlamini – Convenor, Swaziland

3. Jan Sithole - Swaziland

4. Vincent Ncongwane - Swaziland

5. Sipho Msibi – South Africa

6. Oupa Lebogo – South Africa

Operational support team (comprised of COSATU in South Africa):

1. George Mahlangu – Campaigns department

2. Bongani Masuku – International Department

3. Fidel Mlombo – Mpumalanga Province

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