South African trade unionists have called for a football match with Swaziland to be cancelled as a protest against King Mswati III’s ‘brutal monarchist dictatorship’.
Bafana Bafana, the South African national football team, is due to play Swaziland in a friendly match in the Swazi capital Mbabane on 15 November 2013.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has called on the South African Football Association to cancel the match in protest against the king who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
In a statement COSATU called King Mswati’s regime a ‘brutal monarchist dictatorship’.
It said, ‘This absolute monarch denies the people the most basic of democratic rights. He has banned political parties. He refuses to recognise the legitimate trade union organisation TUCOSWA. He uses force and fear to intimidate and subjugate the people of Swaziland.
‘Meanwhile he continues to loot the state resources to feed himself and his rapacious criminal family, at a time when the Swaziland economy and its health system are collapsing and poverty levels have escalated.’
The call is in line with the federation’s support for an ongoing cultural boycott of King Mswati’s Swaziland.
Prodemocracy groups are campaigning for a ban on political parties to be lifted and for the King’s political powers to be curtailed.
COSATU said, ‘But the ruling Swazi elite cannot stop the democratic will of the people from expressing itself. It is unable, despite beatings, bannings and jailings, to suppress the democratic spirit of the brave freedom-loving people of Swaziland.
‘That is why the democratic forces in Swaziland have asked for a cultural boycott, similar to the sport and cultural boycott against apartheid South Africa, which was such a key weapon in the struggle to isolate the racist regime.’
‘The aim of the boycott is to expose the true nature of the royal dictatorship and show the people that the rest of the world is on their side. It is a campaign that has been supported by hundreds of artists, musicians and actors from South Africa and around the world, and one in which COSATU has been a key player.’
It added the cancellation of the match, ‘will send a powerful message to the regime that the South African sporting community and the people as a whole reject the dictatorship and denial of human rights and democracy to the people’.