Sunday, November 16, 2008


Swaziland’s King Mswati III has unleashed a reign of terror against his own people.

Barnabas Dlamini, the man the king illegally appointed as Prime Minister, has declared four political formations in Swaziland and all those who support them to be terrorists.

Under a recently enacted law members and supporters of these groups could face up to 25 years in jail.

The Swaziland Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini has told Swazis who are affiliated with political formations to resign with immediate effect or feel the full force of the law.

Both the Swazi News and the Weekend Observer newspapers reported yesterday (15 November 2008) that Dlamini has branded the Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), the South African based Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) and the Swaziland People’s Liberation Army (Umbane) as terrorists.

According to the Weekend Observer, they were branded as ‘enemies of peace, stability, security and national progress, whose sole aim was to plant seeds of division, fear and strife in the Swazi nation’.

The strong line from Barnabas Dlamini comes as no surprise. Political parties have been banned in Swaziland since 1973, when King Sobhuza II tore up the Swazi constitution and began to rule by decree. Last month when introducing Dlamini as his new Prime Minister, King Mwsati III told him publicly to get the terrorists and all who supported them. Earlier this year, the Swazi Parliament passed the Suppression of Terrorism Act, 2008 which allows for draconian penalties for those convicted of terrorism.

In Swaziland, under the present regime, anyone who disagrees with the ruling elite faces being branded a terrorist supporter.

Swaziland is becoming increasingly isolated from the international community, which has been advocating for political parties to be allowed in the kingdom.

After the national elections in September 2008 a number of groups that observed the polls, including the Commonwealth Expert Team, highlighted the lack of democracy in Swaziland and called for political parties to be allowed, in order to bring Swaziland in line with other countries in the Southern African Development Community.

It is difficult to see what immediate effect there will be in Swaziland following Barnabas Dlamini’s new announcement. Political parties are already banned, although they still operate from abroad.

There is no doubt that the announcement is meant to intimidate democrats. The Swaziland Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini stressed that the government was after supporters of the banned organisations. Supporting an organisation, he said, ‘includes associating with such banned formations or aiding materialistic through provision of commodities such as food and weapons.’

The Weekend Observer said the new move criminalises ‘any person found to be abetting, aiding, sympathising with, sheltering and giving any logistical support to these organisations.’

The Attorney General also said any formation or group in the kingdom ‘which used to do things in partnership with these organisations to desist forthwith from doing that, as it may invite the wrath of the law’.

The Weekend Observer quoted an unnamed ‘senior senior member of the royal family’ applauding the government for its stance.

‘Things had gone out of hand and people openly hero worshipped the people who were planting bombs and spreading fear in the country. All this was done in the name of democracy. Someone had to come up and show the world that there is leadership in this country and that no one can just come and threaten us,’ he said.

Indeed, a war has been declared against the Swazi people.

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