Monday, January 6, 2020

New political grouping in Swaziland dominates human rights agenda

Campaigning against Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III with renewed calls for democratic reform dominated the final three months of 2019. A new grouping of political parties – some banned in the kingdom – called the PPA – Political Parties Assembly launched and engaged in a number of public meetings and demonstrations.

In a statement the PPA said it wanted to end the kingdom’s form of government, known as Tinkhundla, or monarchical democracy. They want power returned to the people. PPA stated, ‘We unanimously observed that the royal project Tinkhundla has reached a point of no return in dragging down our dignity and stretching beyond  limits our patience as a people.’

These were some of the main events in the period October to December 2019 and contained in Swaziland: Striving for Freedom, volume 36, a compilations of reports posted on the Swazi Media Commentary website and uploaded free-of-charge to the Scribd dot com website.

King Mswati received global condemnation when he bought himself and his family at least 15 luxury Rolls-Royce cars (early reports suggested as many as 20 had been purchased). The state then bought 126 BMW cars and motorbikes for ‘escort duties’ in the kingdom. US Ambassador to Swaziland Lisa Peterson criticised the lavish spending in a public speech and unleashed a torrent of criticism from the King’s supporters. There may be attempts to censor her future public statements.

In other events, police attacked workers on legal strikes, using teargas, water cannon and rubber bullets. There were reports of live bullets being fired. Police shot one union leader in the back even though he had his hands raised and pleaded: Don’t shoot.

Police also fired live ammunition and shot a university student with a rubber bullet as class boycotts against the government’s non-payment of allowances swept the kingdom.

Swazi Media Commentary is published online, updated most weekdays. It is operated entirely by volunteers and receives no financial backing from any organisation. It is devoted to providing information and commentary in support of human rights in Swaziland.

See also

Swaziland police violence rampant, children die as economy collapses, report shows
Swaziland public services in meltdown and corruption goes unchecked: new report surveys the kingdom

Swaziland in economic freefall with human rights failings, report shows

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