South African Unions Fight For Democratic Rights In Swaziland


The Swaziland government has banned a peaceful protest planned by the trade union movement for 12-14 April.

South African trade unions are supporting Swaziland workers.

The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) declared on Sunday it has fully committed itself to the struggle for democracy in Swaziland and especially the activities of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, and the Swaziland United Democratic Front.

It said in a statement: ‘We are honoured to be associated with them. If even one part of our continent lives under a tyrannical regime, none of us can claim to be free.

‘The Swazi people have suffered economically and politically at the hands of the Royal Elite.

‘They have endured impoverishment and repression in equal measure, but the reign of King Mswati and his entourage is coming to a close.

‘The depth of the economic crisis, worsened by chronic mismanagement and blighted by gross wastage and corruption can no longer be hidden from the people of Swaziland.

‘The use of repression to silence dissent can no longer contain the frustration of a people denied their basic human and civil liberties.

‘The 23 SAMWU comrades who were arrested in Swaziland during the Global Week of Action, and who were physically attacked and abused before being escorted under armed guard to distant borders experienced what our comrades in Swaziland experience every day, and we therefore, like our Swazi comrades, refuse to be intimidated, and will continue to stand side by side with them.

‘The four days of action that have been called by the Trade Union Movement demands the support of all of our friends nationally and internationally and we urge all those who wish to see a democratic Swaziland to send messages of support and to provide practical solidarity.

‘We also urge all those in the vicinity of Mpumalanga to support the COSATU march to the Oshoek border on April 12.

‘It is heartening to note that there is a new mood amongst trade unions, civic and social movements, students and faith-based organisations.

‘They have realised that it is only through mobilising their members, and daring to think and plan for another Swaziland, that the current bankrupt regime can be replaced.

‘We note with pride the resolute and principled stand of the trade unions in Swaziland in calling for the sacking of the current cabinet, including its head, King Mswati, to be replaced by a transitional government that is acceptable to the people and their representative organisations.

‘We therefore send our greetings to all Swazi democrats, and pledge ourselves to providing practical solidarity to them in the struggle for a democratic and people-driven Swaziland.

‘Viva Swaziland Democracy campaign, Viva.’

Meanwhile, COSATU 2nd Deputy President Zingiswa Losi, during a Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC), told an international solidarity rally: ‘Comrades I greet you in the name of the fighting people of Swaziland.

‘I greet you in the name of the fighting people of Western Sahara who continue to live under a despot despite UN resolution after resolution not being implemented.

‘I greet you in the name of the brave masses of Tunisia who decisively removed from power the 23-year dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

‘I greet you in the name of the brave masses of Egypt who confronted the 30-year dictator Husni Mubarak. The wave of change is unstoppable, yesterday it was Mubarak, tomorrow it will be Mugabe and the following day it will be Mswati. Whether Mswati likes it or not he will ultimately go!

‘Comrades, I greet you in the name of the people of Palestine who are prepared to choose death rather than Apartheid.’

She added: ‘I stand here today inspired by the rising tempo of the revolution in Swaziland.

‘The people of Swaziland are not prepared to compromise their freedom, by their action and resilience we can see that they are not prepared to waste another day without winning back their freedom. The days of King Mswati are surely numbered!

‘Comrades we have come here today to tell all the despotic governments that your time is over.

‘The African people are sick and tired of being treated like outsiders who can only be fed with crumbs from the wealth of their own countries whilst those in power get the lion’s share.

‘To those of our comrades who are currently running governments in the continent and have revolutionary political credentials because they led or played a role in the liberation struggle of their people, we want to tell them today that your political credentials do not give you a licence to attack, persecute and even kill your own people.’

Losi declared: ‘We want to make a call to King Mswati that your time is over. King Mswati, you have a choice to allow for a negotiated exit or be forced out of power.

‘The people of Swaziland want democracy now and they want democracy in their own terms and not your terms!

‘History has presented Africa and the world with yet another opportunity to install true freedom and have people enjoy and benefit directly from the wealth of their countries.

‘What brings us together today is one mission; people of the world must enjoy economic wealth, political power and all the comforts of life equally.

‘We want the world to know that we are under no illusions about the presence of the NATO forces in Libya, which in the main are dominated by the USA, which enjoys the monopoly of military resources and influence even inside the UN Security Council.

‘We know that the USA is being confronted with the predicament of resources that have reached their limit with regard to the production of bio-fuels.

‘We know that part of an undeclared agenda is that in whatever they do, they want a way out from this crisis. We also know that, in that context, the Arabic world and some strategic parts of Africa such as Libya are an envy of the world given their oil producing capacity.

‘We understand that under these conditions the USA can be even more dangerous to the world security.

‘History is littered with examples of the USA government that will not hesitate to fuel war in order to get access to the wealth of other nations. The people of Latin America, in Cuba, in Vietnam and Iraq, can give painful testimony to this.

‘Even as we know all this, but we cannot keep quite when people are killed and persecuted in some cases by the very comrades who fought for their liberation. As COSATU we are not easily blinded by the heroes of yesteryear who have become dictators of today!’

She warned: ‘In the absence of willingness to act decisively to find internal solutions we will call for their removal in the same way as we called for the removal of the colonial monsters and imperialists who illegally occupied their countries.

‘But we will not call for their removal because the USA says so, we will do so based on our own evidence about the material conditions in these respective countries.

‘In the case of Swaziland, we know from the stories told by ordinary people, even by those who belonged to a generation that once believed in the system of tinkhundla, that the lives of ordinary people continues to deteriorate whilst the king and his family continues to live a lavish lifestyle. King Mswati wants us to call that democracy. What kind of democracy is that metes out poverty to its own people.

‘What we want to ask is: why are the SADC (Southern African Development Community) leaders, including our own South African government, keeping silent about the situation in Swaziland.

‘How does it happen that our government has the guts to act with the world on Libya and have the courage to confront the situation in Zimbabwe with the boldness we see, but do nothing on Swaziland? How does it happen that the family of Mswati continues to enjoy itself with world trips and buy expensive clothing when poverty in Swaziland is on the increase?

‘Are the SADC leaders waiting for the situation to mature into high intensity civil war in Swaziland before they can act decisively? Why is the SADC not considering putting pressure on Swaziland?

‘We also want to clarify the point, that we make this call for the intervention of the SADC, knowing what it will cost when the tempo of the struggle increases to uncontrollable heights. No one must say we did not warn.

‘The people of Swaziland have lost patience, the youth of Swaziland, like the youth in South Africa under Apartheid, like the youth of Cuba under the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, like the youth of Zimbabwe under Ian Smith, like the youth in Egypt that chose to take the bull by its horns, the youth of Swaziland have reached the same levels of impatience.

‘If the SADC does not act now, we will all live to regret having failed to act when the moment called for decisiveness!

‘Comrades our dream is that the people of Swaziland must get and enjoy their freedom in our lifetime.