One of Swaziland’s most prominent labour leaders Vincent Ncongwane was arrested today (5 September 2013) at his office by at least 10 police officers to stop him taking part in a democracy march.
Reports from the kingdom say Ncongwane, who is Secretary General of the banned union federation TUCOSWA, was arrested ahead of the planned march in the Swazi capital, Mbabane.
Police took him to his home where he was put under house arrest for an undetermined time.
The march is part of a week of campaigning in Swaziland and abroad to draw attention to the lack of democracy and human rights in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Reports circulated by the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a banned organisation in Swaziland, say police said the march was ‘prohibited’ because TUCOSA was not an organisation recognised by the government.
Political parties are not allowed to operate in Swaziland and many pro-democracy groups, including PUDEMO and the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), have been prohibited as ‘terrorist’ groups under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
The march was to be part of a Global Week of Action for Democracy in Swaziland. Earlier joint organisers the Swaziland National Union of Students, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC), predicted 10,000 people would take part.
Prodemocracy campaigners also plan to run what is billed as a ‘people’s summit’ in Manzini tomorrow (6 September 2013) with the intention to profile the boycott of the national so-called ‘Tinkhundla election’ that will take place on 20 September.
The Swazi people are not allowed to elect a full parliament. Instead, they select 55 members of the House of Assembly. The King appoints another 10 to make the total of 65 members.
They cannot elect any of the 30-member Senate. The king appoints 20 of these and the other 10 are elected by members of the House of Assembly.
MASS ACTION FOR DEMOCRACY PLANNED