Percy Simelane, the official spokesperson for the Swazi Government, has described the European Parliament’s call for political prisoners in Swaziland to be freed as ‘political rape’.
Simelane said the European Union had no business interfering in the internal affairs of Swaziland and likened the European parliament to a ‘street mob’.
King Mswati III rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, political parties are banned from taking part in elections and the King chooses the government and the top judiciary. Pro-democracy campaigners currently languish in prison, many on remand awaiting trial for more than a year, under the kingdom’s Suppression of Terrorism Act.
Members of the European Parliament (MEP) meeting in plenary session on Thursday (21 May 2015) called for the immediate release of Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu from jail in Swaziland. Maseko, a human-rights lawyer, and Makhubu, editor of the Nation magazine were jailed for two years after writing and publishing articles critical of the Swazi judiciary.
MEPs said ‘their imprisonment relates directly to the legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of expression’.
They also called for the release of all political prisoners, including Mario Masuku, President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), and Maxwell Dlamini, Secretary-General of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO).
A statement issued by the European Parliament said, ‘Parliament considers the imprisonment of political activists and the banning of trade unions to be in clear contravention of commitments made by Swaziland under the Cotonou Agreement to respect democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and also under the sustainable development chapter of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement, for which Parliament’s support will depend on respect for the commitments made.’
The Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in Swaziland, reported on 24 May 2015, ‘In response to the resolution, Government spokesperson Percy Simelane said they had no reasons to entertain calls for political rape on the country.’
The Times reported that Simelane said in a text message to the newspaper that the kingdom ‘had the potency to correct or sort themselves out without any pressure from street mobs’.
FREE POLITICAL PRISONERS: EURO MPshttp://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2015/05/free-political-prisoners-euro-mps.html