Statement from SSN Chair, Solly Mapaila.
NO RETREAT IN THE SWAZI STRUGGLE
The Swaziland Solidarity Network has noted with deep concern that the economic and financial crisis in Swaziland is deepening daily and that the ordinary people are set to bear the brunt of it. The silver lining in this state of affairs is the potential that it has of sounding the death knell for the Tinkhundla regime. This will be the only guarantee for the democratic renewal of Swaziland. The system must be killed and buried and never to arise again.
June 22 Protests
As of June 22 the workers in Swaziland, led by SNAT (The Swaziland Association of Teachers, SFTU (Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions) and SFL (Swaziland Federation of Labour, are to embark on a three day nation-wide protest to demand the resignation of cabinet and the dissolution of parliament. This matter is urgent the regime has lost not only the known legitimacy to rule but just even to be called a state.
For legal and strategic reasons the labour movement has decided to put a time limit to the protests and issued what may seem like moderate demands. The truth behind this is that they hope to inspire the rest of the country to render the country ungovernable until the Tinkhundla system of government is totally abolished in favour of a democratic dispensation.
In essence, therefore, it is a continuation of the April 12 protests which were also driven by the labour movement under the Labour Coordinating Council (LCC). Due to the desperate nature of the economic system, coupled with the lessons drawn from the first protests, the people of Swaziland should be able to launch a decisive killer blow to the ruling regime and end the royal Tinkundla oppression once and for all.
Regardless of the outcome of the protests, however, it is evident that people, both those inside the country and outside, are now taking the call for liberation seriously. In particular, great interest has been generated in South Africa by the expose of the plight of political prisoners in Swaziland.
These are mostly young people, with ages ranging from 21 to late thirties. In particular the focus of the expose was on Maxwell Dlamini, Musa Ngubeni, Zonke Dlamini, Bheki Dlamini and our own Amos Mbedzi. All these are political activists who have been arrested for political reasons and then criminalised with crimes ranging from arson to murder to justify their incarceration.
Following the expose, the Swazi government banned visits to these comrades due to the embarrassment caused by the fact that the lies of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lutfo Dlamini, had been exposed. Mr Dlamini had previously denied during media interviews that there were any such prisoners. The journalist who followed up on the matter must be lauded for their brave and remarkable work. Now the state lies have been exposed, Swaziland is led by pathetic liars who perpetually conceal the truth to the population even when they have eaten the country to bankruptcy.
The Economic crisis in the country has become the lobbying point for the struggle. This is because all workers, regardless of their political affiliation will not accept to work for less pay when the ruling regime continues to plunder and waste resources. Moreover, those who are normally apolitical have now found a reason to cast aside all pretentions of neutrality as their own economic interests are now at stake.
This is an issue which will be a thorn in the flesh for the governing regime as this has united all sectors of the society, young and old, rich and poor. This is because the state in Swaziland is the centre of economic activity, as even private companies mainly survive by services rendered to the government somehow.
The IMF and the ADB have both refused to bail out the Swazi Government, which has led the king to make secret visits to the President of the Republic of South African to personally plead for a R10 billion loan which would have been paid out over ten years. The response by the South African Government to this desperate plea by the king was to tie stringent conditions which included the unbanning of political parties and the formation of a transition government which will lead the country to democratic elections.
What the South African government knew was that any such bailouts are not guarantees that the country’s economy will recover at any point in time as long as the prevailing political situation exists. The Swazi monarchy is extremely wasteful with resources and lenient on corruption. With these issues unbridled, the government has run the country’s resources to the ground. We need more pressure from the SA government and progressive formations in the region.
At this point in time the unity of all progressive forces cannot be overstressed. The youth, in particular need to play their role of being the most militant and most energetic people in the country and should emulate the South African youth of 1976. The April 12 movement, as a primarily youthful and unaffiliated group should be at the forefront and unite all the various affiliated youth formations and continue the example they shown during the month of April 2011.
The SADC region has always failed Swaziland, for whatever reason, and in the event that the economic crisis boils into a full scale revolt, they will have no other option but to finally act on the issue. Their intervention should be impartial and in the interests of all the parties concerned. An organisation that has democracy as one of its primary objectives had an obligation to do more to avert such a crisis in the first place.
Our organisation remains committed to its member Amos Mbedzi, who we still insist is innocent. He should not be punished for his political beliefs. Since he has lost his pre-trial, in circumstances that leave a lot to be desired, we feel that he will never have a free and fair trial in that undemocratic country. Our memories are forever with his spirit and that of the two freedoms fighters who left us untimely in those still mysterious circumstances of September 20 2008. The victory we smell is for them too, long live solidarity, forward to democracy in Swaziland. Hit the final nail on the head of King Mswati III and his cohorts and free Swaziland!