Monday, July 25, 2011


Swaziland’s King Mswati III has been invited to officially open a convention this weekend that if successful will see him lose his powers as an absolute monarch and a democratically-elected government replace him.

He has not yet been confirmed whether he will attend.

The ‘Convention of Civil Society’, organised by the South African NGO Phadimisa Bokamoso baAfrica, is being held as part of continuing efforts by some civil society organisations to engage in talks with the present Swaziland Government (handpicked by King Mswati).

It hopes to elect and mandate what it is calling a ‘Constituent Assembly for Civil Society’ which will begin a process of political negotiations with the Government of Swaziland ‘with a view to finding a lasting solution to the problems of political misunderstandings between civil society and the state’.

The Convention will also elect a coordinating committee or constituent assembly that will be mandated to enter into talks with the government and to form a transitional government that would foresee and manage the next democratic elections.

The convention follows a series of ‘hearings’ held by Phadimisa Bokamoso baAfrica, in South Africa earlier this year.

The hearings resulted in a draft document called Talks about Talks that was published last month (June 2011) outlining the organisations objectives, which are:

a) Unbanning of Political Parties

b) Registration of Political Parties

c) Creating a Conducive Political Climate

d) Multiparty elections for next elections

e) A Transitional Government to manage the next elections and that a period of two year is required to prepare for the elections following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the government and civil society.

f) A democratically elected parliament that will act as a constitution writing or reviewing body duly mandated by the electorate.

g) The domestication of International and Regional Agreements must be prioritized and must involve broad participation and education.

h) Gender representation in all spheres of government must be prioritized and must comply with international and regional requirements.

(To read the full report, click here).

A total of 14 organisations participated in the hearings, including the Council of Swaziland Churches, Swaziland National Association of Teachers, Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, Swaziland Federation of Labour, the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civil Organizations (SCCCO) and the Coordination Assembly of Non-Governmental Organizations (CANGO).

The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), one of the best-known oppositional groups, has not joined the convention. It believes it is too soon to be holding talks with the Swazi Government, while political parties remain banned It also criticises the convention for believing the current Constitution of Swaziland is democratic and there is space for political engagement.

The convention runs at the Royal Swazi Convention Centre from 29-31 July 2011.

Talks About Talks Hearings Swaziland Ver2

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