For how much longer, SADC, will you dance to Mswati’s tune?

Statement by the Communist Party of Swaziland

25 October 2021

On 21-22 October, the special envoy of SADC’s Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, currently the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Swaziland in response to the latest wave of killings of pro-democracy protesters and the deterioration of the human rights situation in the country.

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) has stressed to SADC on numerous occasions that the reasons for the clampdown on democracy and human rights activists stems from the lack of democratic rights, banning of political parties, imprisonment of political dissidents, media censorship and enforced immiseration that the people of Swaziland have to endure.

There is now a resurgence of protests demanding democracy and an end to the monarchic dictatorship. The CPS’s slogan Democracy Now has found a strong resonance among the people, particularly the youth.

The CPS appreciates and welcomes the SADC’s recognition that the crisis in Swaziland needs a national dialogue to resolve, but feels that by not issuing stronger calls for change – in particular for guaranteeing freedom and democracy and lifting all bans on political activity – SADC is failing to call Mswati to account.

Why the pussy-footing around, the softly-softly deference to a person who, after all, is a bloody dictator?

Since June this year over 100 protesters have been gunned down in cold blood by Mswati’s police and army. Over 700 people are in detention.

Why does SADC fail even to mention, let alone condemn, any of this?

SADC’s founding treaty states that the member states of the organisation shall act under the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

But Swaziland has none of the first two and the third is hardwired to protect the monarch and the rest of the royal elite.

The statement issued by President Ramaphosa, as SADC’s Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation states that all the “stakeholders” met by the special envoy commit to dialogue through a traditional sibaya (consultation).

It seems that the special envoy did not meet with representatives of the students’ movement or the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland or any of the other organisations demanding an immediate unbanning of political parties.

We now learn that Mswati has promised a sibaya after January 2022, suggesting that he sees no urgency in trying to resolve the crisis he has created.

The CPS calls on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to actually do something about the murderous lack of human rights and democracy in our country instead of paying courtesy calls to Africa’s last autocratic monarch.

Such timid deference to the autocracy simply allows it to continue to get away with murder.

The CPS reiterates the demands of its Democracy Now campaign:

• An immediate end to the bloody suppression of pro-democracy protests
• The unbanning of political parties
• Full freedom of association
• Release of all political prisoners
• Return of all political exiles
• End to censorship of all news and information media
• Free and fair elections


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