Thursday, December 18, 2008


In Swaziland the political elite make up the rules as they go along in their attempt to subvert the rule of law and stop the kingdom becoming a democracy.

When Barnabas Dlamini was illegally appointed Prime Minister of Swaziland by King Mswati III in October 2008 there were widespread fears that the kingdom would slip into a lawless state. The fears seemed justified because the last time Dlamini was Prime Minister he caused local and international outrage when he refused to abide by decisions of the courts. He also unleashed a reign of terror against anyone who supported democracy and argued against the king and government. In Swaziland, the king is an absolute monarch and the parliament has little real power.

In October, King Mswati told Barnabas Dlamini to get terrorists and anyone who supported them and within weeks of his appointment Dlamini had branded four political formations as ‘terrorists’ and had one of their leaders, Mario Masuku of the people’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) arrested on terrorism charges.

All of this was done in line with the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2008.

Now it appears that Dlamini has acted illegally again. The Suppression of Terrorism Act was not in force when Masuku was alleged to have made statements against the state that amounted to the support of terrorists. It may also be that Dlamini’s branding of the political formations is also illegal.

None of this will matter to Dlamini and the police force who do his bidding. Already they have altered the charges against Masuku after they realised there was no evidence against him. At first he was charged with having information on weapons making, then he was charged with making statements at a funeral in support of terrorists, and then the ruling powers came up with a general charge of sedition.

Masuku has filed an application in the Swazi High Court that at the time he allegedly committed the offence of supporting terrorism the Suppression of Terrorism Act had not come into effect.

In his application to the High Court, Masuku says the government ‘acted maliciously without applying themselves to the law because the intention is clearly to silence me and the legitimate democratic voice in Swaziland’.

Masuku goes on to state, that the government hopes ‘to instil fear in the citizentry and therefore perpetrate undemocratic rule’ and that ‘the Suppression of Terrorism Act is merely being used as a tool to render ineffective the voices of dissent in our land.’

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