Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Swaziland is slowly sinking backwards towards the era of the lack of respect for the rule of law, democracy and human rights.

And there is very little political will on the part of the Swazi state to listen to and engage political dissenters.

Meanwhile, on the economic front, Swaziland continues to decline yet government’s spending on unnecessary and non-priority areas remains unchecked.

These are just some of the conclusions in yet another report on Swaziland’s appalling record of human rights, civil liberties and political mismanagement.

The report just released by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) studied Swaziland for the period May – July this year (2009) and concluded that ‘events of the last three months reflect a continued state of emergency in Swaziland as the State has scaled-up its defiance of the rule of law and effected numerous acts of intimidation and violations of human rights. Of notable importance are the arrest of human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko in June and the further arrests of political activists, Mpandlana Shongwe and Norman Xaba of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) in July.’

The 11,500-word report continues, ‘on the surface the sporadic arrests by the State may seem to the larger public – as the media is made to report – aimed at curbing or discouraging acts of terrorism. In retrospect, these have demonstrated a systematic targeting of political dissenters in line with the infamous King’s mandate to government and Parliament when installing the current Prime Minister [Barnabas Dlamini] last year.

‘This view has been cemented by the State’s capricious harassment and raids visited upon members of PUDEMO, the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) and the Foundation for Economic Justice’s offices, a non-government organization that has amongst other things supported the Swaziland Ex-Miners Association in the issue of Free Primary Education (FPE).

‘The arrest of Thulani Maseko came across as a direct onslaught on Human Rights, particularly in view of the sterling role he has played in putting to the test the constitution of the country in the courts. It should be recalled that Maseko is also representing the President of PUDEMO, Mario Masuku, in his case where he is incarcerated for contravening the Suppression of Terrorism Act.’

The report is just one of many recently to highlight the decline of human rights and civil liberties in Swaziland.

To read the full OSISA report click here.

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