Saturday, August 8, 2009


A rally organised by Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) for today (8 August 2009) will go ahead, although officially banned, according to organisers.

The rally is to support the community of Mahlabatsini in Matsapha, where 1,000 homesteads face eviction by Prince Masitsela, a brother of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The rally will also mark SWAYOCO’s 18th anniversary.

SWAYOCO Secretary General Thabile Zwane said the rally in Mahlabatsini will go ahead, but she expected police to try to stop it and arrests and beatings were likely.

She called upon the youth of Mahlabatsini and surrounding areas to come to their rally as SWAYOCO wants to address their problems as well plan how they could resists the looming evictions.

Earlier in a statement, SWAYOCO outlined the main issues to be addressed by the rally:

- stopping evictions of well over one thousand homesteads with a population of 15 thousand people to be directly affected.

- Intensifying the demand for decent jobs in the only industrial site of Swaziland against the casualisation of 90% of the workforce.

- launching the total onslaught on the fight for free and quality primary education for the 350,000 youth that currently has no access to any form of education in a population of only 958,000.

- the youth will also be demanding quality health care facilities in this area that is heavily affected by the HIV\AIDS scourge.

- an open and total rejection of the draconian piece of legislation (Suppression of Terrorism Act) whose nature and character is only meant to silence the youth and progressive people in their fight for freedom.

Zwane said they wanted to be in solidarity with the people of the area for the looming eviction but also to highlight the continued incarceration of Mario Masuku, President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and Amos Mbedzi, both of whom are in jail awaiting trial on sedition and terrorism charges.

Zwane said, ‘What we are saying is that people must have the right to land, clean water, sanitation and electricity. Instead of wanting to evict the people Prince Masitsela must be advising the powers that be on how to improve the area as well as giving citizens the right to land.’

This is not the first time that Swazi authorities have banned SWAYOCO rallies. In February 2009 Swazi police brutally smashed up a SWAYOCO rally in support of Masuku at Msunduza Township in the Swazi capital, Mbabane. Four SWAYOCO leaders were arrested but later released without charge.

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