Spectators will be charged E250 (US$25) to attend matches at the tournament set up to honour King Mswati III of Swaziland – at least two weeks’ income for seven in ten of his subjects.
The controversial tournament called the King’s Super Cup includes the two giant South African teams Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
Pro-democracy campaigners have urged the two clubs not to attend the tournament scheduled for 18 July 2015 because it would be seen as supporting the King who has been criticised globally for the poor human rights in his kingdom.
Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, choses the government and top judges. Groups advocating democracy are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act and people advocating for reform are jailed.
The tournament’s organising committee chairman Zakhele Lukhele said that a special dinner would be arranged on the eve of the tournament and the price to attend would be E15,000 per table.
In Swaziland, seven in ten people have incomes of less than US$2 per day.
The announcement was made at the Royal Swazi Spa Convention Centre, Mbabane, on Wednesday (24 June 2015).
The Supersport website, based in South Africa, reported, ‘The King’s Super Cup is an initiative of Swaziland’s King Mswati III. “The number one football supporter in this country,” as one guest said it.’
A campaign started by pro-democracy activists in Swaziland has been reported by news organisations globally.
Campaigners say if the two South African football clubs took part in the tournament it would be a ‘mockery to the many activists that have died at the hands of the government and those who are presently languishing in jail for having dared to talk against the atrocities obtaining in Swaziland’.
The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), in a statement said, ‘Almost 70 percent of Swazi citizens live under the poverty line of less than a dollar a day, while Mswati III’s preoccupation is buying private jets, luxury cars and touring the world with his throng of wives at the expense of the Swazi people.’
The statement added, ‘PUDEMO implores the two soccer giants to reconsider their decision to be involved in a tournament that seeks to put a human face on a government that has made it its prime occupation to govern the people with fear and dispossession.
‘The fact that the tournament’s namesake is to honour an individual who uses fear and corruption to accumulate riches which he then uses to further suppress freedoms and curtail human rights, should be an indicator enough that the good game of soccer is being taken to the sewers, and this tournament will forever taint the good name of these two soccer giants for having dared to give credibility to a king who sits executive over cold blooded murder and the incarceration of innocent citizens.’
The Communist Party of Swaziland in a statement said the participation of the two football giants in the tournament undermined the efforts of democrats to isolate the King.
In an open letter to Irvin Khoza, Chairman of Orlando Pirates Football Club and Kaizer Motaung, Executive Director, Kaizer Chiefs Foodball Club, the Swaziland Solidarity Network said, ‘It is clear from the name of the event that this is not just a sporting event meant to promote goodwill but rather a political event meant to legitimise a despot who has lost credibility in the eyes of the world and the country that he rules with an iron fist.’
CALL TO BOYCOTT KING’S SOCCER CUP