Thursday, April 16, 2009


A protest against the extravagant lifestyle of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, took place in London, UK, today (16 April 2009).

A street party was held outside the Swazi High Commission to bring attention to the lavish celebrations planned for the king’s 41st birthday on Sunday.

Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) held the party to show solidarity with the thousands of people who took to the streets in Manzini, Swaziland, today to demand that the Swazi Government honour its constitutional obligations and introduce free primary schooling immediately.

The protest also comes as news was breaking that King Mswati intends to buy up to 20 armour-plated Mercedes Benz S600 Pullman Guard cars, some of which will be used by his wives at a cost of about E50 million (5 million US dollars).

The Swaziland protest led by the Council of Swaziland Churches and including many civil society organisations and trade unions called on the Swazi Government to stop wasting a fortune on celebrations for the king’s birthday and to provide free primary school education.

Protesters, who had travelled from all four regions of the kingdom, assembled at Freedom Square before marching through Manzini. Early reports said police tried to stop the marchers, claiming they did not have permission to demonstrate.

Meanwhile, in London ACTSA supporters held a mock birthday party outside the Swazi High Commission and presented a birthday card echoing the demands of Swazi civil society.

Tony Dykes, Director of ACTSA, said, ‘ACTSA joins thousands of people in Swaziland in calling on King Mswati and his Government to put an end to the extravagant spending on these lavish celebrations and spend the country’s resources on education and development. Free primary school education is a right enshrined in Swazi law, yet it is still denied by the Government.

‘Through today’s action and our campaign for democracy, rights and development for Swaziland we aim to open the world’s eyes to the plight of the people of Swaziland, who continue to endure the longest running state of emergency in the world.’

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