King Mswati III of Swaziland is at it again; he called another pointless national convention (bluffingly calling it The People’s Parliament) to pull wool over the Swazi nation’s face. He apparently last did this back in 2012, and now he has done the same to try and fool the world into believing there is dialogue between him with his cohorts and the people. The Sibaya Convention was called on Wednesday the 3rd August 2016 whereby the nation was summoned to Lobamba Royal Kraal to “deliberate” national concerns; it has gone for days now, even up to Saturday the 6th August 2016.
The so called deliberations are just sugar-coating of a very bitter pill, that of not allowing the nation to critique the very form of government Mswati uses to rule the kingdom. As long as normal citizens voice out their concerns that don’t touch or question the king’s actions, don’t advocate for the legalization of political parties and human rights groups, they are “free” to say whatever they want.
Here’s the biggest of all jokes this convention is about: the 2012 convention produced absolutely NOTHING, people were just venting themselves but neither Mswati nor the government did anything to address any of the submissions. I see this as another fruitless exercise, Mswati is only doing this because of the up-coming SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) conference of which Swaziland will be taking the chairmanship of for a while.
Some of Mswati’s remarks have been to urge the nation not to picket, not to hold protests and demonstrations during the SADC conference. He’s essentially trying to save face in the presence of his counterparts of which some of them like Mugabe of Zimbabwe is another oppressor just like Mswati. He wants to tell his counterparts that there is democracy in Swaziland and we deliberate issue of national concern… and yet nothing could be further from the truth. It is all about propaganda and he’s successful to some level because I spoke to some friends in Swaziland and are no wiser of what is going on, they think its an opportunity, but they forget we have been here and nothing comes out of these deliberations.
Since the voices of discontent are not allowed within the borders of Swaziland, people remain ignorant of Mswati’s tricks, they are being played and cannot see it even though its right in their face.
I believe the security forces will be fully deployed to crash any discontent within the kingdom especially during the conference, so it is up to us who are in the diaspora to sound the alarm and expose Mswati tricks to the world.
Viva Swazi Vigil Viva… we will not stop until Swaziland is free from the power clutches of Mswati.
By: Zodwa Dlamini
. Colleen Matsebula, 2016; Times of Swaziland; “SIBAYA CONVENTION: A BEACON IN THE DARK”; http://www.times.co.sz/letters/107810-sibaya-convention-a-beacon-in-the-dark.html ; Date Accessed: 06-08-2016
. Mbono Mdluli, Gugu Simelane, 2016; Swazi Observer; “PM, cabinet should be fired”; http://www.observer.org.sz/news/82259-%E2%80%98pm%2C-cabinet-should-be-fired%E2%80%99.html ; Date Accessed: 06-08-2016
. Joy Ndwandwe, 2012; Swazi Observer; “Sibaya System our Indigenous Governance Tool”; http://www.observer.org.sz/index.php?news=43800 ; Date Accessed: 06-08-2016
. Gugu Simelane, 2016; Swazi Observer; “Inequality causing division in Swaziland - Sibaya”; http://www.observer.org.sz/news/82258-inequality-causing-division-in-swaziland-sibaya.html ; Date Accessed: 06-08-2016
SWAZILAND FAILS ON FREEDOM PROMISE
Swaziland has failed in the promise it gave a United Nations review in 2011 to change laws in the kingdom relating to freedom of association and assembly so they met international standards.
Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections; only 55 members of the 65-seat House of Assembly are elected by the people and none of the 30-seat Senate.
In 2011 at a United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Swaziland, Swaziland agreed to “align the national legislation with international standards to guarantee freedom of assembly and association, in particular as regards the notification of the organization of peaceful assemblies.”
May 2016, Human Rights Watch stated, ‘The [Swazi] government has yet to repeal, or amend as appropriate, a number of repressive laws that restrict basic rights guaranteed in Swaziland’s 2005 constitution, including freedom of association and assembly. On the contrary the government has intensified restrictions on these rights over the past four years. The laws in need of amendment include the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA), the 1938 Sedition and Subversive Activities Act, and the 1963 Public Order Act.
‘Police have sweeping powers under the Public Order Act. The king’s 1973 decree banning political parties remains in force despite repeated calls from local political activists to have it revoked. The constitution does not address the formation or role of political parties. Section 79 of the constitution provides that Swaziland practises an electoral system based on individual merit and excludes the participation of political parties in elections.
‘Traditional leaders and chiefs have powers to restrict access to their territories, and have often used these powers to bar civil society groups and political groups like the Ngwane National Liberation Congress (NNLC) and the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) from having meetings, recruiting, or any kind of presence in their areas. In 2011 PUDEMO challenged in court the government’s refusal to register political parties but the court said PUDEMO has no legal standing to approach the court as it did not exist as a legal entity.
‘The Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) places severe restrictions on civil society organizations, religious groups, and the media because it includes in the definition of “terrorist act” a wide range of legitimate conduct such as criticism of government, enabling officials to use the provisions of the Act to target perceived opponents of the government. The government has also misused the STA to target independent organizations by accusing them of being “terrorist” groups, and harassed civil society activists through abusive surveillance and unlawful searches of homes and offices.
‘Individuals who have been targeted for arrest or prosecution under the STA include the leaders of People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) who were arrested and detained under the STA in 2014. Police arrested PUDEMO leader Mario Masuku in May 2014, on terrorism charges for criticizing the government in a speech on May 1. At the time of writing Masuku was out of jail on bail pending the outcome of his trial. If convicted, he could serve up to 15 years in prison.
‘Police used violence to halt May Day celebrations organized by trade unions in May 2013. In March 2015 police beat leaders of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers and prevented them from holding a meeting ostensibly because the discussions would have included calls for multi-party democracy.’
‘In August 2014, human rights lawyer Sipho Gumedze attended a civil society event in Washington DC held at the White House to coincide with the US-Africa Summit hosted by American President Barack Obama. At the time, there had been a crackdown on free expression in Swaziland and a number of political and social activists were in prison or facing charges resulting from their criticism of the Swazi King and political system.
‘Gumedze was photographed with a colleague from the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) holding a banner saying “Free Speech in Swaziland NOW!” Soon after, the Prime Minister of Swaziland, Barnabus Sibusiso Dlamini, said, in a speech to Parliament, that Gumedze and his colleague should be “strangled” on their return to Swaziland.
‘Another of these lawyers, Thulani Maseko, spent fifteen months in prison in 2014 to 2015 after he was charged and convicted of contempt of court for writing an article that was critical of the then-Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi. Maseko was described as a “disgrace to the legal profession” by the presiding judge, Mpendulo Simelane, when he was sentenced. Ramodibedi and Simelane have since been charged with defeating the ends of justice – in essence what Maseko was attempting to highlight in his article.’
By: Zanele Shongwe
Swaziland is at the crossroads, the country is buffeted by a myriad of challenges that threaten its fragile unity, the challenges are enormous and seem to have defied solutions. The Hobbesian state of nature in which life is nasty short and Brutus, aptly destructs the wobbly state of the nation.
To even use the word good governance is charitable, good governance is an alien concept to Swazi people (eMaSwati), the over 48years of the Tinkhundla rule, destroyed the structures that would have instituted good governance in Swaziland. In contradiction, what Tinkhundla rule instituted was a culture of impunity and brayed disregard for the laws of the land.
In 48years, Swazi people have become ever more disillusioned and hopeless, living with a tragic sense of national loss. The challenges facing Swaziland is that democratic rule has not in anyway been addressed. These challenges HURT the citizens. The democratic rules are never ever respected by the government, this government has not created an inability environment for the attainment of socio-economic development for its citizens.
Almost on all development indices, Swaziland remains a toddler, underdeveloped-and on brink of collapse. The forces that threaten the country's unity are symptomatic of the fact that Swaziland is a faint state.
Nation building demands that a common ground for peaceful and co-existence of the 1.2million people would have been established both constitutionally and in practice.
Life is getting tougher by the day for ordinary Swazi people. The job losses are getting abnormal. It's clear that the government needs to do more.
Swaziland has lost thousands of people and jobs, neither the numbers nor the people appear to be important, lives no longer count. They have become numbers, ordinary statistics, kept for records. What society watches its citizens decimated in this manner, without being shocked into action? How can government be so unfeeling? Why do we have to go through ALL this as a nation?
Does our government really care? Only heavens knows what else is mixing up into our misery.
Are the scandals in the Land embarrassing to this government?
By: Celiwe Belinda Shongwe