Saturday, January 24, 2009


Shockwaves continue to reverberate around Swaziland following the US Ambassador’s pledge to help groups in the kingdom that are fighting for democracy.

Maurice Parker, the US Ambassador to Swaziland, said his embassy would support pressure groups to ensure that the fledgling democracy is fulfilled in the kingdom. He said many pressure groups had trouble organising meetings, ensuring freedom of speech, or pursuing the right to assembly freely. He promised he would work with government and all pressure groups to ensure that the bottlenecks to free expression, freedom of association and full political determination are realised in the country.

First to condemn Parker was Swazi Foreign Minister Lufto Dlamini who simply denied there was a problem. Dlamini’s condemnation was published in both Swaziland’s daily newspapers on Thursday. It was repeated in the Weekend Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, today (24 January 2009).

Despite the Weekend Observer’s loyalty to Dlamini, elsewhere he has come under fierce personal attack for his reaction to Parker.

An article in the Swazi News today tears into Dlamini, calling him a ‘demon possessed’ the newspaper accused him of ‘doubting their honesty and integrity publicly’ of Parker. The newspaper told Dlamini to think more carefully before he speaks.

The criticism in the Swazi News echoes that of the Times of Swaziland published yesterday.

Pressure groups in Swaziland have welcomed the initiative from the US Ambassador.

Secretary General of the Swaziland United Democratic Front Vincent Ncongwane in a statement to the Weekend Observer said the time had come for multi-party democracy in Swaziland.

‘Those that hold on to the belief that political parties engender divisions must ask themselves why all other countries are not then choosing our system,’ he said.

‘Those that thrive with the mistruth that political parties were divisive are every day sending congratulations to new governments that come into office through the multi-party system.

‘Who do they think they are fooling that these can be divisive only in Swaziland? They must be having a very low opinion of their own people or hope that they can sustain the lie.’

Director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Swaziland Chapter, Comfort Mabuza expressed his shock over the Minister’s ‘outbursts’ in the media. He said he would have hoped the Dlamini would have spoken to the Ambassador first before responding to media reports.

True to form, the Weekend Observer, gave space to Swaziland’s ruling elite to propagate the lie that Swaziland is free and everyone is happy with its own ‘unique democracy’.

Prince Magudvulela, a member of Liqoqo, the body that advises King Mswati III, and to many people is the body that controls the King’s mind and therefore Swaziland, said, ‘Democracy is about a people being ruled according to their own dictates and through a system they have chosen themselves.’

He said Ambassador Parker and President Obama misunderstood Swaziland.

Of course, the problem for Prince Magudvulela and the others who benefit from Swaziland’s corrupt political system is that the President and the Ambassador know Swaziland only too well. That is why they shuddered when President Obama said in his inaugural speech, ‘To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history’.

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