Saturday, April 23, 2011



Swazi opponents threaten to disrupt royal-linked rap concert

MBABANE — Anti-regime activists in Swaziland threatened yesterday (22 April 2011) to disrupt a concert by American rapper Jadakiss organised by a charity linked to the royal family.

The Swazi activists have warned they will infiltrate and protest at the concert where the rapper and other hip-hop artists are set to perform tonight.

"It is a publicity stunt by the royal family. It is about winning the hearts and minds of the Swazi youth. Bear in mind the timing - it comes immediately after April 12th," Mxolisi Ngcamphalala of the banned Swaziland Youth Congress told AFP.

On that date Swazi police stopped anti-government protests from going ahead by detaining, beating and tear-gassing demonstrators.

Tonight’s concert is billed as a fundraiser for a charity bearing the name of the son, Lindani, of King Mswati III.

"Charity organisations won't benefit," said Ngcamphalala, arguing that the costs of marketing and staging an event of this kind will not be covered by ticket sales.

VIP tickets for the Jadakiss show are being sold for 100 dollars - a monthly salary for many workers in this impoverished African nation.

Huge billboards and full-page newspaper adverts have publicised the event for weeks. Performers will receive undisclosed fees and will not be taxed on their earnings.

Jadakiss is no stranger to controversy. He attracted criticism in 2004 when the lyrics of his biggest hit "Why?" expressed a belief that former US president George W Bush had co-ordinated the September 11th attacks.

The rapper is charging a "discount rate" to perform in Swaziland, promoter Mthunzi Zwane told AFP.

Neighbouring South Africa's ruling ANC party's Youth League is calling for a boycott of the royal event, saying it is a "celebration of the suffering and starvation of the people of Swaziland by the King, his friends and family".

A spokesperson for the organisation told AFP several South African performers including "DJ Tira" have pulled out of the concert.

Zwane said most performers would appear as promised but was unable to confirm "DJ Tira" was amongst them.

"The problem is that the South Africans are using the wrong platform for political ends. This is a benefit concert it is not the king's birthday," he told AFP.

The concert comes just days after King Mswati's 43rd birthday - unlike previous years no official celebrations were held. The monarch is under pressure to exercise restraint given the financial crisis gripping his kingdom.

Swaziland is fast running out of money to pay for the day-to-day running of state, including civil servants' salaries.

Swaziland's trade unions have embarked on a campaign of mass action demanding the government step down and that multi-party democracy be introduced in sub-Saharan Africa's last royal kingdom.

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