3 October 2011
Expose the disastrous human rights record of the Mswati regime
The Communist Party of Swaziland condemns the actions of the Swazi security forces in tracking down and viciously assaulting people who burnt the kanga textile image of Mswati III during last month’s pro-democracy protests in our country. We also condemn all related efforts to persecute those who took part in the protests and call on governments and solidarity forces internationally to expose the blatant human rights violations of the Mswati regime.
It is clear that Mswati and his government are refusing to be bound in any way by the conditions relating to democratic reform that South Africa has sought to attach to its granting of the R2.4 billion loan to the Swazi regime.
Mswati has balked at signing up to the loan conditions and has taken particular exception to those that relate to democratic change. He is meanwhile looking around for alternative sources of funding that have no human rights conditions attached and is continuing to plunder the country’s bank reserves and special funds to keep his useless government afloat. This is all so that he can prolong his rule and continue to violently oppress the majority of our people.
We welcome the opportunity afforded by the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which on 4 October examines the case of Swaziland, to expose the gross violations of human rights in our country. Swaziland has got off far too lightly in terms of the international opprobrium directed at the actions repressive regimes against the populations they oppress. We urge the Periodic Review to take an uncompromising stand against the inhuman behaviour of the Mswati regime.
Unfortunately, all too often ‘quiet diplomacy’ and obsequious self-interest have prevented governments from exposing and condemning the terrible human rights situation in our country.
These human rights violations extend beyond democratic freedoms, and cover the rights to life, health and education, which are violated by the Mswati regime’s systemic imposition of hunger, poverty and disease on the majority of the Swazi people.
The international community is guilty of double standards in this respect by condemning human rights violations in certain contexts but not in others, depending on its strategic interests – as we have seen with the selective approach to supporting the anti-oppression uprisings of the ‘Arab Spring’. So far, Swaziland has not figured much on the moral radar of the international community.
We need an altogether bolder and more forceful response from the international community in isolating, exposing and condemning the Mswati regime’s revolting treatment of the Swazi people. We recall the anti-apartheid stands taken boldly and openly by the majority of countries of the UN General Assembly during the struggle for South Africa’s liberation from white minority oppression. The people of Swaziland urgently need the world community to stand up and condemn the Mswati dictatorship in similarly open fashion, and to follow up such sentiments with concrete action to help bring down the regime.
It is in this context that we reiterate our view that the Mswati regime is incapable of being reformed into a flowering paradigm of democracy. The CPS believes that only the total replacement of the regime by an interim-government that does not contain organs of the present regime can put our country on the road to democracy.
If the regime is to be negotiated with by the pro-democracy movement, it must be from a forceful position of strength by our people, their organisations and parties in which the regime is forced to be disbanded.
We oppose any efforts by esoteric civil society gatekeepers, their foreign backers and unrepresentative individuals to present themselves as the voices of the pro-democracy movement or of the Swazi people.
It is for that reason that we support the call by the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) for a nationwide dialogue on democratic change to involve all Swazi communities and social constituencies, such as women and youth, to shape the content of the new democratic dispensation.
The CPS is working towards this goal. If we do not establish the true bases of a grassroots democracy, the post-Mswati dispensation will be a bourgeois sham mediated by local and South African-based business interests and pretend ‘activists’.
The CPS also calls for support for the Break the Chains campaign for the release of all political prisoners in Swaziland, the unbanning of all organisations and parties and the safe return of exiles.
The exposing of human rights violations in Swaziland and of the current efforts of the regime to suppress the voices of protest and liberation have a direct bearing on the struggle to corner and weaken the Mswati autocracy. We call on all democratic and human rights forces to work in solidarity with the struggle for a free Swaziland.