The UK must support a democratic future in Swaziland

Swaziland is Africa’s only absolute monarchy and is currently in the midst of significant economic, political and social struggles.

King-Mswati

Swaziland is a land-locked kingdom in southern Africa with a population of just over a million. It is Africa’s only absolute monarchy and is currently in the midst of significant economic, political and social struggles.

Many of these struggles can be traced back to the Kingdom’s absolute monarch – King Mswati.

King Mswati has ruled Swaziland since 1986 and under his rule all political parties in Swaziland have been banned for more than two decades.

Any political activists who attempt to organise – as the pro-democracy movement has – face the threat of harassment and often violence.

A typical example of the political repression faced by activists in Swaziland is the case of Maxwell Dlamini, President of the Swaziland National Union of Students, who was arrested, tortured and held for just under a year before being released by the Swazi security services.

Even today Maxwell is unable to return to his studies due his scholarship being withheld. As recently as last week three students were shot with rubber bullets by security services.

The willingness of those around King Mswati to use violence also appears to be worsening as Swaziland’s economic condition further deteriorates.

 


See also:

Invite to royal wedding should be withdrawn for Swaziland’s king 27 Apr 2011


 

While King Mswati has a personal fortune in excess of $100m and caused outrage in Swaziland when he recently sent his wives on a no expenses spared trip to Las Vegas, Swaziland itself is actually gripped by an economic crisis.

Last year the University of Swaziland failed to open for the start of term, student grants (without which the majority of Swazi students would be unable to study) have been slashed and many hospitals are unable to buy the medicines they desperately need – a particular problem in the country that has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS and TB in the world.

Such is the extent of King Mswati’s economic mismanagement that the IMF recently withdrew its support for Swaziland’s economic recovery plan and the African Development Bank has refused to pay its budget support payment to the kingdom.

Worryingly repression is increasing being used by the Swazi security services as an everyday weapon. When the country’s teachers recently walked out on strike after the government refused its demand for a 4.5% wage increase – inflation in Swaziland is currently more than 9% – the government responded by sacking striking teachers, leading to the closure of numerous schools.

Protests by the striking teachers have also been met by the Swazi security services firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

This can also be seen as part of a wider pattern of trade union suppression. When the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) called for a boycott of next year’s ‘elections’, they were swiftly deregistered by the government meaning they were no longer recognised by the government to formally represent workers.

The infringement of basic rights we in the UK take for granted, such as the right to join a political party and the right to protest without the fear of violence, are why we in the UK need to stand shoulder to shoulder with Swazis who are fighting for a democratic future.

If you want to find out more about Swaziland, Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) are holding an event in London next Wednesday (September 5th); further information can be found here.

12 Responses to “The UK must support a democratic future in Swaziland”

  1. Gareth Siddorn

    It’s probably only because of the work of successor organisations to the anti-apartheid movement that Swaziland hasn’t completely slipped under our radar. Swazi trade unions are heavily reliant on funding and support from UK unions, so it’s important that international budgets aren’t cut as the focus increasingly shifts to campaigning against cuts here at home.

  2. treborc

    Totally agree with that.

  3. Newsbot9

    While you have a point, if the Tories destroy union funding, then it’s a moot point anyway isn’t it?

  4. charlesdar

    Idiotic Fool – once he engages you in dialogue he tries to bring up religion – avoid like the plague

  5. Newsbot9

    Because it was relevant, spammer

  6. charlesdar

    Idiot – I have never argued for slave labour and never will – you still havent learnt to read and you fabricate arguments because you cant win real ones – charities should not get free labour was my point and you kept arguing they should even though I destroyed your lack of argument – you are a fool and a bigot and I will hunt you down and expose you wherever I can.

  7. Newsbot9

    Ah, you’re backtracking now I see, “just” demanding that charities should not be able to use volunteers.

    You’re arguing against yourself, as usual, given my actual argument was that SLAVERY BAD NO MATTER WHO GETS SLAVE LABOUR.

    And of course you’ll stalk me and try and shiv me, far right fanatics like you have tried before. They failed. You’ll fail, stalker. Slaver.

  8. charlesdar

    No brains no argument – you have nothing but air between your ears

  9. charlesdar

    good chap

  10. Newsbot9

    Looking in the mirror again I see.

  11. Joan Makokha

    Thanks
    for your article. I recently visited Swaziland and witnessed the gross
    inequalities between Swaziland’s ruling elite and the common people. I was
    particularly taken aback by the plight of the sugarcane workers who contribute
    to the production of the extract that Coca Cola uses to make its billion dollar
    product, yet the workers continue to live in abject poverty, while the King
    gets rich. It’s been a couple of months since I left and I wanted to help,
    and I was partly inspired by the call to boycott Coca Cola. Hence
    this petition: Tell Coca Cola to Stop Supporting Dictatorship in Swaziland. Because
    I care deeply about this very important issue, I’m trying to collect 1000000
    signatures, and I could really use your help. It will just take a
    minute! Once you’re done, please ask your friends to sign the petition as
    well. Grassroots campaigns succeed because people like you are willing to
    spread the word! To read more about what I’m trying to do and to sign my
    petition, click here:

    //www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/tell-coca-cola-to-stop-supporting-dictatorship-in-swaziland?share_id=loMQAVRoNs&utm_campaign=petition_creator_email&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

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