Wednesday, December 10, 2008


When Swaziland’s King Mswati III declared war on his own people in his attempt to rid his kingdom of ‘terrorists,’ he started an international diplomatic row.

During his speech, described, even in Swaziland where nobody is allowed to criticise the king, as ‘emotional’, King Mswati blamed neighbouring South Africa for harbouring terrorists.

This follows the arrest of a South African after a bomb detonated in a car near one of King Mswati’s palaces in Lozitha in September 2008.

South Africans Amos Mbenzi and Jack Govender were in the car when it exploded.

Govender was killed in the blast and Mbenzi was arrested and, according to South African media reports, is being held in solitary confinement in a Swazi jail, where he is allegedly being tortured. Both are members of the South African Communist Party (SACP).

According to a report in the South African newspaper Business Day,‘South African officials, none of whom want to speak on the record, describe relations with Swaziland since the blast as “sensitive” and “tense”’.

Business Day reports, ‘South African officials and activists close to Swazi democracy groups say the Swazi government has told SA it has “proof” of collusion between South African nationals and those responsible for violence in the kingdom.

‘The Swazi regime has complained to SA about the alleged role of “Cosatu House” in assisting an uprising in the country.

‘Cosatu House, the head office of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), is host to the Swaziland Solidarity Network, an alliance of organisations campaigning for democratic reform in Swaziland, as well as the SACP and the Young Communist League (YCL).

The newspaper reports behind-the-scenes talks between the two governments were brought into the public domain after a recent Cosatu central executive committee (CEC) meeting at which the federation took aim at the insinuations of the Swazi government. The CEC noted the impact of the border blockades, in which Cosatu played a leading role, to the extent that the Mswati government wrote to the South African government to demand why they did not act to prevent people subverting their country.

Activists in Swaziland fear a further clampdown from Mswati’s police and army, whom they accuse of ruthlessly quashing any attempts to bring about reform.

Cosatu and the SACP rejected suggestions that they are involved in the bomb blast.

To read the full Business Day report click here.

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