Saturday, September 3, 2011


Swaziland Democracy Campaign


2 September 2011

Swazi Economy Starts to Disintegrate: Now is the Time for Democracy not Kleptocracy!

The inevitable has started to happen. This afternoon it was announced that the Swazi economy has started to implode. Years of maladministration, chronic planning and institutionalised corruption have finally taken their toll. The fact that the South African Government has still to pay the first tranche of its ‘bailout’ has clearly exacerbated the crisis.

Dwindling reserves being held by the Government have dipped to dangerous levels and can no longer be used to service the government’s current account. Loans from the Central Bank have still to be repaid, and this too will result in an intensification of a severe cash crisis.

This will mean that public sector workers, including civil servants, teachers, local government officers and many others may not be paid this month. It will also mean that even the meagre amounts put aside by government for extreme poverty alleviation projects will be suspended. The working class and the poor are expected to bear the brunt of a crisis not of their making.

Of course, the rich and the powerful will hardly notice any difference. King Mswati himself is reliably known to have a personal fortune of more than $200m. Many of his self-chosen Cabinet Ministers have amassed fortunes enabling them to send their children to schools outside of the country, and to live celebrity lifestyles, while 70% of the population live on less than $1 a day.

This week will see the second Global Week of Action in Swaziland (5 – 9 September 2011) and thousands around the world, and in Swaziland itself will be marching to protest against the abuse of power of the regime, and also its incompetence and endemic corruption. The protests could not have come at a better time. Marching together will be public sector workers, and workers who rely upon the services they attempt to deliver, members of faith based organisations, the legal fraternity, students and the unemployed, and for the first time in a long time, there will be significant mobilisations in rural regions.

This marks a major breakthrough for the democracy movement. The rural population have been consciously kept in the dark by the regime, and subject to misinformation and the prejudice and patronage that hides behind the Tinkhundla’s cultural facade. However, despite police harassment and arrests, the trade unions and other organisations have been working hard in all areas of the country to explain their demands for democracy , and to provide answers to the many fears and questions that have been raised by a people who have been oppressed for decades. There’s no doubt about it, change is in the air. Mswati’s regime is on the losing side!

The reaction of the security services towards the democratic protesters over the next week will be watched very carefully by a legion of human rights organisations and official UN agencies. Swaziland is already being held in contempt for failing to respect universally accepted democratic and civil rights. Attacks on innocent protesters next week will add still more ammunition to those calling for a complete isolation of the Mswati regime, and for pressure to be applied internally and externally for democratic reforms.

Furthermore pressure must be put on the South African Government to withdraw the bailout, and instead make it dependent on tangible democratisation agreed not with Mswati, but with the Democratic Movement on the ground. Nothing for the Swazi People without their consent!

Support the Global Week of Action whenever or wherever you can! Visit the SDC website for a protest action near you! Down with the Swazi Kleptocracy. Now is the time for Democracy!

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