Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Letter to Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, from Africa Contact, a Danish-based NGO, concerning the recently granted loan from South Africa to Swaziland.

9 August 2011

For the South African President Jacob Zuma

cc. The South African Embassy in Denmark

Dear Mr. President,

It is with regret that Africa Contact, the former anti-apartheid movement in Denmark, notes that the South African government has decided to grant a loan to the Kingdom of Swaziland. This loan comes at a time in Swaziland's history where the country stands at a crossroads. If the country continues down the present path, the undemocratic actions and human rights abuses will continue and will mean that the countries resources will be further depleted and poverty further exacerbated. The other path is a path of transition to multiparty democracy, and thus an opportunity to ensure that the economic power of Swaziland is removed from the clutches of the king and his closest associates so that all Swazis can have a say in the running of their country.

We see the South African government’s loan to Swaziland as a de facto support of the regime in power today and as an indication that the South African government does not want to support the democratic forces in Swaziland.

We understand the South African government’s unease at interfering in internal affairs of neighbouring countries, especially given the history of the apartheid regime in such matters. But giving R2.3 billion in loans to Swaziland is also interfering in the internal processes of that country. The loan will help ensure that security force repression of the democracy movement can continue, and will not be used to pay the salaries of public employees. This can already be seen by a Swazi government detailing how cuts on salaries across the board in the Swazi civil service – including the police – will go through regardless of the loan from South Africa, as reported by AFP last Sunday.

In the past, we at Africa Contact spent a lot of time and energy on trying to pressurize European banks into not lending money to apartheid South Africa – in part because the ANC, and you personally, called upon us to do that. And we see our calls for the isolation of the Swazi regime – including not lending it money – until it agrees to democratization and wealth redistribution, as being in line with our calls to isolate the apartheid regime. Not least in light of the history of prior involvement with the apartheid regime of the Swazi monarchy – examples of this are that the present King Mswati III invited former South African Prime Minister Botha to his inauguration and that he and his predecessor sent many ANC activists straight into the hands of the South African security police.

As they were under the apartheid regime, the attempts for a peaceful resolution to the situation in Swaziland that will lead to democracy are being met with police and arrests. If there is to be a meaningful dialogue on a transition to democracy, it is necessary that South Africa - Swaziland’s main trading partner - plays a decisive role in bringing this about. As far as we can see, however, South Africa has chosen to turn a blind eye to the desperate situation of the vast majority of Swazi citizens.

If the South African government believes that the loan to Swaziland will prevent the social, political and economic problems from spilling over into Swaziland’s neighbours, we believe that you have misinterpreted the situation. Surely, as the situation in Swaziland continues to deteriorate, both economically and politically, several hundreds of thousands of Swazi’s without access to proper food, health care or schooling, they will try their luck in South Africa as has been the case with many Zimbabweans. Only real political and economic reforms can prevent this.

We therefore ask you to reconsider the loan to Swaziland, and if you insist on giving it, make it conditional on specifically detailed and measurable acts of democratization and socio-economic transformation in Swaziland, as well as making such conditions time bound, i.e. to be implemented within a certain time frame.

Med venlig hilsen - Sincerely

Morten Nielsen

Afrika Kontakt

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