14 April 2011
Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA)
Swaziland: Stop the Repression; clampdown no solution says
The government of Swaziland has used intimidation, arrests, beatings, tear gas and water cannon against its own citizens to deny them the right of peaceful protest. They have not addressed the grievances and demands for democratic reform, economic and social rights.
On April 12, the first day of the protests, several union leaders were arrested, 100 buses around the country were detained. In an attempt to dismantle the protests, over 50 innocent citizens were detained by police and dumped kilometres away from the capital Manzini without transport. Today, the offices of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) are under siege by armed police; those inside the building have reportedly been ordered to get on the floor in readiness for a shoot out.
The repression is a sign of government weakness and nervousness not a sign of strength. The people and their organisations in Swaziland are mobilising for the rights that their neighbours in South Africa and Mozambique have, to freely elect their leaders and hold them to account. The people of Swaziland want policies which reduce poverty and gross inequality not reward and re
These demands will not go away. Using all the force the state can muster may disrupt a protest but it will not stop the movement and momentum for change.
Repression and clampdown is no solution.
· Swaziland is Africa’s only absolute monarchy, its people have endured the restrictions of a state of emergency since 1973. Swaziland has less political freedom than Zimbabwe, according to the respected Mo Ibrahim Index; political parties are banned and civic and political activists are regularly arrested, imprisoned and tortured. Swaziland has the highest HIV rate in the world, which disproportionately effects women, who often have the burden of care. The Royal Family and its entourage have amassed an immense wealth, whereas 69 per cent of the population live on less than a dollar a day.
· Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) is the successor organisation to the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Since 1994 ACTSA has been campaigning with the people of southern Africa as they strive to build a better future, working for democracy, rights and development across the region. www.actsa.org