Saturday, August 1, 2009


Ordinary Swazis meeting for their first ever ‘People’s Dialogue’ have drawn up a list of demands to further the cause of human rights and civil liberties in the kingdom.

The ‘Manzini Declaration’ was launched yesterday (31 July 2009) by trade unions, churches and civic organisations including the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO).

The main points of the Manzini Declaration are:

· At least 15% of the national budget should be spent on health

· An education system that meets the demands of the 21st century

· Land reform as a means to ensure food security

· Decent work for all

· Proper equality and respect for women

· Recognition of the importance of the informal trading sector to the economy

· A credible democracy where the people alone choose their government

· Respect for Human Rights

· Adequate and professional policing that makes crime prevention and protection of human rights its priority

· An end to reckless privatisation

· Proper engagement with the youth of the country

· Respect for Swazi culture as a vibrant expression of our uniqueness

· Adherence to ratified international obligations

The declaration follows the People’s Dialogue held in Manzini two weeks ago today which covered a number of issues of importance in Swaziland today including gender equality, child sexual abuse, and human rights generally.

Although organisers stressed that the People’s Dialogue was not meant as an attack on the Swazi state, police nonetheless infiltrated the meetings and two people were arrested and charged with offences under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. One was alleged to have chanted political slogans and the other wore a T-shirt supporting the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).

At the launch of the Manzini Declaration yesterday secretary general of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions Jan Sithole said the declaration sets out the people’s vision of what we need in the country.

‘It makes demands on government while also committing the SCCCO to working with government to turn the people’s demands into reality. Proper and credible social dialogue and social partnership cannot happen overnight, but we have taken that first step.

‘We know what the people want. It is our job to start advocating and negotiating for their needs. We call on the government to take its first step, take the Manzini Declaration seriously and meet with us as a matter of urgency. They will find us helpful, respectful and constructive.’

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