1 June 2011
Swaziland teachers call for US, South African help in bringing democracy, economic reform
MBABANE, Swaziland — Hundreds of teachers marched in Swaziland’s capital today (1 June 2011) to deliver petitions to the U.S. and South African embassies calling on their country’s most important allies to push for democratic and economic reform in sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy.
Teachers and other civil servants have been restive since February, when the prime minister presented an austerity budget calling for freezing government workers’ salaries for the next three years.
Before today’s peace protest ended, teachers presented a petition at the U.S. Embassy calling on Washington to identify and freeze assets of prominent Swazis in the U.S., and charging that the money had been looted from public funds.
U.S. official Craig Pike accepted the petition and released a statement saying his government was committed to working with Swazi citizens and government to uphold human and democratic rights.
At the South African mission, about 1,000 teachers sang and danced to South African President Jacob Zuma’s signature song, “Bring me my machine gun.” An embassy official accepted but did not comment on the petition that asked Zuma to help guide Swaziland to multiparty democracy.