Sunday, May 3, 2020

Swaziland democracy leader charged with sedition for criticising absolute monarch on news website

Ncamiso Ngcamphalala, President of the Economic Freedom Fighters-Swaziland (EFF), has been charged with sedition for criticisms he made of absolute monarch King Mswati III on the Swati Newsweek website.

Last month, Eugene Dube, the Swati Newsweek editor, was arrested, tortured by police and threatened with a charge of treason for publishing the report.

In the report Ngcamphalala was quoted saying, ‘We want government to change people’s lives, the Swazi Monarchy must know its place. We respect the King, but respect is earned and when pushed into a corner; we will be forced to retaliate. We unapologetically stand for multi-party democracy.’

In Swaziland (eSwatini), King Mswati chooses the Prime Minister and government ministers as well as top judges and civil servants. Political parties cannot take part in elections and groups campaigning for democratic reforms are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Ngcamphalala was interviewed by Swati Newsweek for a report on the Economic Freedom Fighters-Swaziland which had recently set up in the kingdom. He said the party was inspired by the socio-economic situation of the people of eSwatini. Seven in ten of the 1.3 million population live in abject poverty.

Ncamiso Ngcamphalala, President of the Economic Freedom Fighters-Swaziland
He said members came from a number of occupations and also included student activists and trade unionists. 

In the report published on 14 April 2020, he said, ‘What sets us apart from the other parties is our manner of approach. We believe in a table of dialogue through mobilizing people from the streets at grassroots level. We are ready to fight for the rights of workers, students and the unemployed as we are a militant, anti-capitalist and anti-dictatorship movement. We are an all-inclusive movement, and we will use the constitution where it serves justice but challenge it when it does not serve the people.’

Ngcamphalala was charged under the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act of 1938
The charge sheet said he ‘did unlawfully promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between the inhabitants of eSwatini by uttering seditious words which then published, printed, or distributed or reproduced through a Swati Newsweek Newspaper’.

See also

Swaziland journalist critical of absolute monarch, beaten, arrested, faces treason charge

‘No media freedom’ in Swaziland, Reporters Without Borders annual report states
Swaziland journalist ‘tortured by police after criticising absolute monarch in newspaper articles’

Newspaper editor flees Swaziland for second time after arrest and police torture
‘Attempt made to poison journalist critic of Swaziland’s absolute monarch,’ editor says


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