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Monday, May 31, 2010

GLOBAL ACTION FOR SWAZI DEMOCRACY

Swaziland Independence Day is being targeted for a global day of action to press for democratic reforms in the kingdom.


A ‘Global Swazi Democracy March’ (GSDM) will be held inside Swaziland on 6 – 8 September 2010 with 6 September (Independence Day of Swaziland) as the Global day of action.


A joint meeting of the Swaziland and South Africa chapters of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) called on the global trade union movement to declare it ‘a day of global action and mobilize all workers to act in solidarity throughout the world’.


SDC said, ‘This shall no longer be about just a march, but a comprehensive plan to cover visits to specific areas of political interest in order to expose the world to the real side of Swaziland that tourists are never told about.’


SDC is also targeting a number of international meetings to draw attention to the undemocratic kingdom of Swaziland. These include the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) heads of State summit in Namibia in August; the International Labor Organization conference in June; the Commonwealth Heads of States summit in Australia in November and the UN General Assembly in September.


For more information on this and other activities in the SDC campaign click here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

POLICE HALT CIVIC EDUCATION MEET

The following information is being circulated by Afrika Contact.


EX-MINEWORKERS CIVIC EDUCATION MEETING STOPPED BY POLICE AT THE INSTRUCTION OF THE AREA’S TRADITIONAL AUTHORITY

The Swaziland National Ex-Mineworkers Association was yesterday (27 May 2010) stopped from holding its educational meeting in Matsanjeni in the eastern parts of the Shiselweni region. The team that comprised the association’s President and his Coordinator together with the Foundation’s monitoring and evaluating officer were first stopped at a roadblock mounted by the state police a few kilometers away from where the activity was to take place. The car they were driving was searched and upon seeing that nothing seditious was carried by the team, they were released.

On arrival at the venue (Matsanjeni Inkhundla) they found a police car parked at where the meeting was to be held. The organization’s branch coordinator met the team and said that the police were there to stop any meeting that was to be held as there was to be a recruitment session conducted by the country’s army personnel. He said that word from the area’s traditional authority was that no one is allowed to call or hold any meeting when the king has summoned people. It was said that the recruitment activity was commissioned by the king and any activity that counters this is not allowed and the police were there to see to it that nothing happens. The team together with the M&E then decided to hold a short meeting that was to plan for future activities at the same area. It was agreed that our next meeting must be held in a neutral venue outside of the state inkhundla structure. The meeting was then slated for the 17th June 2010.

The M&E then asked the association’s representatives how they view this and the president minced no words in saying that this is a very unfortunate scenario. It shows how inconsiderate the royalty driven tinkhundla system is to the needs of the people. People must always be free to meet and discuss issues that have a direct bearing on their lives at any time and place of their own choosing, the president said. The president said that this will not in anyway deter the association from engaging its membership and the entire people on issues that stall them from exercising their rights and creating democratic awareness.


NB
The Association’s President’s home was yesterday morning (before the Matsanjeni meeting) raided and searched by armed state police officers who said they were acting at the instruction of their superiors. About 15 of them arrived at the early morning hours and knocked, banging the door. The president was awoken by the loud sounds and voices that he heard outside. When he opened the door, he was met by a contingent of armed officers that ordered him in and said they want to search his house. The president demanded a search warrant and upon producing one, he obliged. They searched and took his 1997 calendar that had a photo of the then secretary general of PUDEMO.

SWAZI POLICE ARE POLITICAL FORCE

Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has made it clear that he is in charge of the kingdom’s police force and will use it against democracy activists.


Dlamini, who has an international reputation as an enemy of freedom and democracy, was explaining why dozens of police invaded the funeral of democracy activist Sipho Jele two weeks ago. Officers tore up pictures of the deceased man and confiscated banners belonging to opposition group, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).


He said police would break up gatherings and make arrests even if no crime had been committed. The police just needed to believe that a crime might be committed.


Dlamini’s remarks at a gathering of the kingdom’s senior media people fly in the face of comments by Swaziland Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula that the police were a service to the people of Swaziland and would treat people as ‘clients’ and with respect.


Dlamini told the meeting that police suspected crimes would be committed at Jele’s funeral so they broke it up.


‘At Jele’s funeral, the police would not just sit back and wait for something to happen first before responding to the situation. But they had to do something about the information brought by the Intelligence Branch,’ the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reports him saying.


Dlamini said that at future funerals or other occasions if the Intelligence Branch happened to detect a security threat, police then they would attend to ‘ensure law and order’.

SWAZILAND PM: ‘I CONTROL THE MEDIA’

Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has total control over state television and radio, he reminded editors this week.


Dlamini, who has an international reputation as an enemy of freedom and democracy, said the media should follow government policy and do what they are told.


He was talking at an editor’s forum when he reminded his audience that government had dictated that state media are banned from promoting gambling activities, including Top Lotto.


He said the government forbade the SBIS radio and Swazi TV from promoting gambling, smoking and drinking alcohol.


He said the state media had no discretion in the matter.


‘Government’s stance involved is clear, so state owned media cannot even use their discretion where this is concerned, but they are advised to simply ignore all gambling activities. Even if you are interviewing someone and that person mentions something about gambling, just cut the interview,’ the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported him saying.

ARCHBISHOP BACKS DEMOCRACY FIGHT

Just as some senior church leaders in Swaziland are saying that they should keep out of politics comes news that Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference has voiced concerns over the death in jail of Swazi democracy activist Sipho Jele.


Tlhagale says the circumstances of Jele’s death, ‘reminds us of apartheid tactics that were used against those who were challenging the status quo in South Africa’.

The Independent Catholic News reports Tlhagale saying that since Swaziland’s constitution came into effect in 2006 state repression has increased.


Tlhagale says, ‘As President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, I have written to President Zuma to ask the South African government to take part in normalising the situation before it resembles what happened in Zimbabwe. I have asked President Zuma to consider a mediating role to facilitate a climate of dialogue among all stakeholders in Swaziland.

‘We as the Bishops of Southern Africa support the call by our brother, Bishop Louis Ncamiso Ndlovu of Manzini, Swaziland for the creation of a climate of dialogue between all parties concerned, including the government. We also support and endorse his call for an independent body to be put in place to hold the inquest into the cause of death of Sipho Jele.’