Saturday, June 13, 2009


What follows is a document circulated on the Swaziland Solidarity Network Forum yesterday (12 June 2009) giving an update on a campaign that has been running in South Africa since January 2009 to draw attention to the jailing of Mario Masuku, President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and human rights abuses generally in the kingdom.

Summary of the meeting between the Swaziland Solidarity Network and the High Commission of the Kingdom of Swaziland


The meeting comes against the background of the arrest of the President of the Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Comrade Mario Masuku. Cde Masuku has been in jail since November 15, 2008 under charges of terrorism.

Under the rubric of the Free Mario Masuku Campaign, the SSN with its allies in the SACP, COSATU, YCL, ANCYL, COSAS, SASCO have held weekly demonstrations at the Johannesburg consulate of the Kingdom of Swaziland. These protests have been held every Friday since the third week of January 2009 without any fail with the exception of public holidays.

In more than 15 memoranda submitted, the Swazi authorities failed to respond to any of the demands. Last Friday on the 5 June 2009, protesters refused to leave until there was a commitment from the Swazi High Commission and official feedback. Alongside internal political pressure in South Africa, the region and internationally, this prompted the High Commissioner, Mr. Mswane to make a commitment to meet with SSN. The meeting was scheduled for today at 09h00 and lasted for 1hour 30 minutes.


The key demands were the following:

The unconditional release of PUDEMO President Mario Masuku

The unbanning of political parties

A democratically elected national constituent assembly to develop a new constitution

The return to Swaziland of all exiles

Since the arrest of advocate Thulani Maseko, Mario’s lawyer, his release has been added as demand in all the memorandums. Maseko was arrested following remarks attributed to him that the two comrades Jack Govender and Musa Dlamini who died in a bomb explosion in Swaziland, ‘died for the liberation of Swaziland, and that the bridge at which they died should be named after them’.

Meeting with the High Commissioner

The meeting was attended led by the SSN national chairperson, Cde Solly Mapaila with a delegation of five. The high commissioner was accompanied by the Johannesburg consular Mr. Tsabedze and High Commission staff. The meeting can be characterised as cordial. SSN had an opportunity to raise its demands and dissatisfaction relating to lack of serious response on the royal Swazi side.

The main issue that SSNB Chairperson highlighted is the need to recognise the inevitability of dialogue and a peaceful transition. He called on the Swazi authorities to begin negotiations with PUDEMO and all political and social forces.

The High Commissioner (HC) agreed with the principle of dialogue, but seemed to suggest the inclusion of Swazi traditional consultation platforms such as the Vusela. This is not necessarily SSN’s thinking about genuine and broadly inclusive dialogue, but does not exclude it. PUDEMO has the right to determine which platforms are more free and democratic to conduct talks.

The High Commission will inform SSN about feedback from Swaziland. It was agreed to meet more frequently.


SSN called for King Mswati not to be invited to the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma. This campaign was successful and the Swazi King was booed on arrival at the union buildings. A protest march was also held on Friday before the inauguration in Pretoria at the HC.

State of the nation address

SSN issued a statement, accusing the SA government of complicity and the opportunity the state of the nation address missed to highlight the lack of democracy in Swaziland. SSN will meet with foreign affairs to discuss in detail its position on Swaziland. The meeting will take place at the end of June.


A letter has been written to current SA deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in his previous capacity as President and SADC chair. SADC is giving attention to the matter. Nothing has been heard from them.

Pan African Parliament

A memorandum was sent to the Pan-African Parliament President Dr. Getrude Mongella. There is a commitment to give it appropriate attention and advice on steps to be taken. Amongst others the PAP was asked to pressure the African Union to table Swaziland on its agenda.

Program of action

SSN will proceed to fight for democracy in Swaziland. There is a bold program of action being considered. The international balance of forces are against the King and his current rule.

Europe and the US are also joining in putting pressure. Developments in the region regarding the customs union are not favourable to authoritarian Swaziland. SSN and COSATU are seeking to combine economic and political pressure on King Mswati.

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