30 August 2011
This Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) Daily News is the first edition of what we hope will be an e-bulletin to help build the Global Week of Action on Swaziland (GWoAS), and to follow up what happens afterwards!
The SDC seeks to try and maximise support and solidarity with the people of Swaziland for a democratic Swaziland, and to undertake this vital work in a principled and non-sectarian manner.
There are now fifteen chapters of the SDC in different parts of the world, and we hope to be able to report on the activities they are involved in, as well as the excellent solidarity work that is undertaken by other organisations.
Visit the SDC website for regular updates and to find out details of actions that are underway www.swazidemocracy.org
Global Week of Action Takes Shape 5 – 9 September
The week is based upon a number of planned marches. They will be taking place in the following locations : 5th in Mbabane, 6th in Manzini, 7-8 in regions, 9th in Mbabane.
The marches are part of the trade union campaign to settle a number of outstanding grievances, and to draw attention to the austerity measures that the regime are intending to impose upon the already impoverished peoples of Swaziland.
In addition there are pickets and protests in many parts of South Africa and in other countries as the extract from the mobilisation leaflet indicates.
§ Picket of South African Parliament organised by the Cape Town Chapter on the 6th September from 12pm-2pm (Contact Comrade Martin 0828702025 and firstname.lastname@example.org)
§ Pickets at various branches of the South African Reserve Bank on the 9th September from 12pm-2pm.
- Johannesburg Contact Comrade Philani 076 942 3565 and email@example.com
- Durban Contact COSATU on 0313041690 and firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bloemfontein Contact Comrade Sam Mashinini 0825636954 and email@example.com
- East London and Port Elizabeth Contact Comrade Mkhawuleli on 0823395482 and firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mpumalanga Contact COSATU on 0136560289 and email@example.com
§ All over Africa the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) will be organising pickets and presenting memorandum to Swazi High Commissions or Embassies, or to South African missions in the event of no Swazi representatives. (Contact Comrade Joel Odigie on firstname.lastname@example.org)
§ Pickets/protests will be taking place in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Somali, Rwanda, the UK, Germany, the US, in the Nordic Countries and also in Geneva, and Brussels (Check the SDC Website for details)
This is only an extract of the protests that are planned, please check our website for actions in different parts of the world – www.swazidemocracy.org
Did He or Didn’t He?
Did King Mswati ask for a commission charge for ‘negotiating’ the bailout from South Africa as reported in last Sundays newspapers? Apparently there seems to be a reliable leak at the heart of government who is prepared to pass on this information. If it is true, democracy activists will not be surprised, after all why change the appalling habits of a lifetime?
Mswati’s Royal family have been receiving ‘commissions’ for just about every transaction whether legal or illegal for decades. The fact that someone somewhere in the inner sanctum is prepared to leak such sensitive information is an indication of the tensions that must exist within the ruling elite. Let’s face it, if a list of all those who have provided ‘commissions’ for Mswati were ever published (and one day it will be!) it will surely read like a Who’s Who of the Southern African economic and political elite. All the more reason why serious work must be undertaken to track Mswati’s economic crimes as well as his abysmal human rights record.
Conversation with Women’s Activist on Swaziland
‘There is no doubt that women are involved in the democracy campaign, and often play a leading role, and are in the frontline of the mobilisations. There are women leaders in unions and civil society formations, and they have fought hard to be properly recognised as equals.
There are challenges however. Many people, both men and women still see the Reed Dance for example as primarily a ‘cultural’ event that is somehow separated from women’s oppression, and they make jokes about polygamy, and the picking of barely legal ‘wives’ for the King. But the situation is changing. As the corrupt activities and selfish behaviour of the monarchy is increasingly exposed all over the country, including in the rural areas, growing numbers of people no longer have blind faith in being ‘ruled’ by such uncaring leaders.
Not only can you feel it, but now you can also hear it when you travel to those areas. In my experience, it has never been as strong as it is now. Change is coming and it cannot be stopped! Women comrades have to make sure that they are involved, not only to bring in democracy, but also to tackle the negative gender attitudes that have shaped Mswati’s rule.’ (Well known leader and activist : name withheld for security purposes).
Understanding the Bailout
The R2.4bn bailout facilitated by the SA Government is based on a number of conditionalities. The first is supposed to be about democratisation, but has been so watered down as to be almost incomprehensible, and now simply calls upon the regime to engage in ‘confidence building’. Whose confidence is not stated! Mswati’s or the peoples?
However, another ‘conditionality’ is less obscure, and that is the one that insists that recommendations from the neo-liberal IMF and World bank are implemented. And yet what the IMF and World Bank have recommended is that 50% of the public sector workforce should be retrenched alongside a whole tranche of austerity measures designed to make the already impoverished people of Swaziland worse off.
Retrenchments not in the notorious and completely overblown security apparatus that daily imperils the lives of democracy activists, but workers in education, health, water and service provision. Can the South African government please explain how this will help the people of Swaziland? Thankfully trade unions in the public sector are clear about the implications, and are prepared to fight tooth and nail to defend those parts of the public service that protect not attack the people of Swaziland.
Judiciary and Justice System to Align With Democratic Movement?
One of the astonishing happenings to have been witnessed on the streets of Mbabane last week was the procession made up largely of the legal fraternity, including both legal clerks and advocates, protesting about the appalling manipulations of the Chief Justice, and demanding his removal.
The legal profession has not been known for radicalism, but it appears as if the abuse of power by the Chief Justice acting as judge, jury and prosecutor in the ‘trial’ of Judge Masuku (who has courageously stood his ground when attacked by the regime) has changed all of that. The legal fraternity have not just protested abuses, but have taken steps to ensure that justice is still served by discussing how best to make sure that those who require legal redress, and especially those less wealthy, are still able to access it.
This is a remarkable turnaround, and indicative of the new confidence that is being expressed in all corners of Swazi society. The SDC congratulates the legal fraternity for their militancy, and urges them to join hands with those brave and deeply respected attorneys and others who have gone one step further and who are openly defending and assisting those who languish in Mswati’s prisons, and who met with the international delegation late last week in Swaziland. (see website for details). No Justice Under Dictatorship!
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