How Mswati autocracy uses courts to hang on to power

Communist Party of Swaziland

Sunday 25 December 2022: – On Saturday 24 December 2022, the CPS Annual Summer School focused on analysing the objective situation in Swaziland and how the progressive movement can take advantage of the obtaining conditions for the benefit of the struggle.

Issues discussed included how the Mswati autocracy uses the courts to frustrate and isolate democracy activists. Delegates showed how the judiciary of Swaziland helps to suppress the calls for democracy while at the same time cleaning the image of the oppressive regime.

Swaziland’s judiciary remains nothing but a tool for the absolute monarch to justify its rule and suppress the people.

One of the presenters on the subject, CPS Head of Youth and Students Commission, Bafanabakhe Sacolo, described how the entire criminal justice system of Swaziland is, in fact, a system for the victimisation of young activists. He based his analysis on his personal experiences and also analysed the position of the youth in the struggle.

“On 21 May 2021, comrades, I was arrested during protests against police brutality, but for a whole year and more I neverreceived a trial date”, said Sacolo.

Sacolo was the Secretary General of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) when Mswati’s police officers arrested him for leading the #JusticeForThabang protests.

Mswati’s police had killed Thabang Nkomonye, a student at the University of Swaziland, on the night of 8 May 2021. The protests, led by SNUS and the youth, led to the nationwide uprising in June and July 2021.

Continued Sacolo, “Just for protesting against police brutality, I was thrown into the Matsapha maximum prison, even before getting considered for bail. The magistrate’s court and the police kept dilly-dallying for an entire year, claiming to be waiting for forensic evidence.”

After being tortured and thrown into the Matsapha maximum prison, Sacolo later received bail. His bail was set at a staggering E50,000.00 and was ordered to report to the police every month, just to keep track of him while they connived to build a caseagainst him.

When Sacolo was supposed to get feedback from the courtpertaining to his case, the police on 23 March 2022 told the court that they had lost the docket. Additionally, the evidence they claimed to have been waiting for was nowhere to be seen.

“This was proof that the police never had any case against me from the start,” said Sacolo. 

“The only aim of the regime was to frustrate me, and instil fear on me and the other youth to desist from protesting against police violence and for democracy”

It is the regime’s modus operandi to target the youth, harass and intimidate them, aiming to shut down democracy protests. Many of them have been victimised by the police, army in different places be it in schools, communities, workplaces, etc.

While the oppressor has its strength – being the security forces, the control of the economy, its chiefs and chiefdoms, among others – it also has a myriad of weaknesses which the mass democratic movement can, and should, take advantage of. Delegates at the CPS Summer School continue to thoroughly analyse the regime’s strengths and weaknesses as well as craftingways to strengthen our forces for the revolution.

The CPS Annual Summer School began on 20 December 2022 and will end on 30 December 2022 where a full Programme of Action for 2023 will be adopted.


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