All the major figures in Swaziland’s pro-democracy movement have been excluded from so-called ‘democracy talks’ with King Mswati III on Wednesday (30 September 2015).
The Commonwealth had brokered talks between the King, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, and groups wanting multi-party democracy in the kingdom.
At present political parties cannot take part in elections and groups advocating for democracy are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, where media are severely controlled, reported on Friday (25 September 2015) that the Peoples’ United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) President Mario Masuku; Second Vice Secretary General Mphandlana Shongwe; Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) Coordinator Wandile Dludlu; Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) President Quinton Dlamini and Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) Secretary General Maxwell Dlamini were among those who were excluded from the team of 15 to meet the King.
The newspaper reported, ‘This is despite the fact that the meeting was facilitated to give these well-known leaders of the political formations a platform to voice their concerns to the King. The idea of hosting such talks was conceived during meetings between the leaders of the political formations and Commonwealth Special Envoy to Swaziland, former Malawi President Dr Bakili Muluzi.’
The newspaper reported that the names of people taking part in the talks had been leaked.
The Times reported, ‘It was gathered that the seasoned and controversial activists have been ordered out of the team and replaced.’
It added, ‘This publication was made aware of the people who will meet the King, however, when most of the members of the team were called last night, they declined to comment, citing the tension within the team.’
PUDEMO ON DEMOCRACY TALKS WITH SWAZI KING
KING ‘TO MEET DEMOCRACY GROUPS’