Search This Blog

Loading...

For more coverage follow us also on Twitter and Facebook


Saturday, 20 December 2008

CALL FOR SWAZI DEMOCRACY GROWING

The support for groups advocating democracy in Swaziland is growing – both inside the kingdom itself and internationally.


Foreign governments are sympathetic to their cause and have made no secret of this. Not because they like the progressive formations but simply because they appeal to the democracy desired by the UN Declaration for Human Rights.


This is the view of Martin Dlamini, managing editor of Swaziland’s only independent daily newspaper, the Times of Swaziland.


Writing in his own newspaper yesterday (19 December 2008), Dlamini says, ‘Swaziland is viewed as swimming against the tide of democracy. University of Swaziland (UNISWA) lecturer Maxine LaNgwenya put it bluntly and labelled the Tinkhundla system of governance as undemocratic.


‘She said while the country had adopted a new constitution with a Bill of Rights, it was being violated at whim and she gave five instances of such violations to an audience that had gathered to commemorate the Declaration of Human Rights last week.


‘She said the freedom of speech guaranteed in the country’s constitution did not guarantee there was a listener on the other side. She said the fact that Swazis could vote did not guarantee representation in parliament.’


Dlamini went on to say that Swaziland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Lutfo Dlamini thinks LaNgwenya is just blowing hot air. His argument is that she was enjoying her freedom of speech when she made the remarks despite being employed by the system.


According to Martin Dlamini, Lufto Dlamini and LaNgwenya ‘represent the divided Swazi nation we have today. While it is true that no country in the world speaks in one voice it is equally true that no government has ever succeeded in forcing its citizens to think in a particular direction.


‘It therefore must simply be accepted that the Tinkhundla System of Governance is open to criticism, more so now than ever before due to rising unemployment, escalating poverty, high levels of sickness and a frighteningly wide gap between the rich and poor.


‘A system that provides visible solutions to these problems in an accountable and transparent manner is all what Swazi people want.’


Martin Dlamini says, ‘Instead of moving towards this goal, however, the ruling party has demonstrated, especially in 2008, that it will focus its time and resources in silencing its critics.’


To read the full article click here.

Friday, 19 December 2008

SWAZI GVT SILENT ON EXILED ACTIVIST

The Swazi Government has denied forcing a human rights advocate to leave Swaziland.


James Mania, a political refugee from Kenya left Swaziland last week after being given an ultimatum to leave or be deported back to his home country.


According to the Times of Swaziland today (19 December 2008), when sought to comment on the circumstances leading to Mania’s leaving, ‘all the senior government officers who were implicated in the matter claimed ignorance of the issue’.


Mania was thrown out of Swaziland because he was involved in informing the international human rights watchdog Observatory for Human Rights Defenders about the violation of human rights and freedoms in the kingdom.


The Observatory alerted the international community about this and asked it to intervene in the prevailing situation in Swaziland.


Copies of the letter were also sent to the king’s office, the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General as well as the country’s Permanent Representative to the UN.


According to the Times, police are said to have called Mania and informed him that he would be deported should he pursue this matter any further.


‘He was then forced to leave the country a few days later when the police allegedly gave him seven days to voluntarily leave the country or be deported. This was after it was alleged that the Attorney General’s office had been contacted by the United Nations (UN) Rapporteur on Human Rights about human rights violations in the country.


‘Secretary to Cabinet Sandile Ceko denied knowledge of the matter. He said he never received a letter about the issue. Ceko said if it was sent to the PM through his office, he might have sent it through without reading its contents. He stated, though that matters of human rights were normally dealt with by the Justice Ministry.


‘Justice Ministry Principal Secretary Sicelo Dlamini also said he could not recall the letter.


‘It was the same thing with Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini, who denied knowledge of the matter.’

POLICE WANT TO MONITOR CHURCH

Swaziland’s police are so out of control they want to monitor church meetings to stop ‘terrorist’ activities.


The latest move comes after police have stopped legal rallies and demanded to sit in on meetings and stormed a media workshop.


Now, The League of Swaziland Churches President Samson Hlatshwako has revealed that police are interested in monitoring meetings of the League.


According to a report in the Swazi Observer today (19 December 2008), police think that pastors are becoming ‘too political’.


Hlatshwako said now that some spiritual leaders had started speaking politics, the police were gaining interest in monitoring their meetings, according to the Observer. ‘That is not a desirable circumstance.’


He added, ‘We don't want it to be a necessity for police to monitor our meeting, because such would imply that we are no longer trustworthy church leaders.’


Hlatshwako distanced himself from those pastors in the church who support moves for democratic reforms in Swaziland.


‘They recently called me to one of their meetings where they were to deliberate on the country's political direction at the Tum’s George Hotel. I blatantly refused to be a part of them because of what they stand for.’


Hlatshwako said the same church leaders failed to make their contributions during the people’s parliament at the cattle byre. He said it was surprising that the said church leaders were now opinionated on how the country should be governed.

SWAZI POLICE TORTURE JOURNALISTS

Swaziland police have been accused of torturing and detaining two television reporters.


The journalists, who work for Swaziland’s only independent television station Channel S, say they were arrested by police while they were following a story about a crime syndicate.


It is reported that police thought the journalists were part of the criminal gang. They were released without charge.


Now, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has asked police and other security agencies not to disturb journalists in their duties.


According to a report in the Swazi Observer yesterday (18 December 2008), Director of the MISA Swaziland Chapter Comfort Mabuza said if there were suspicions in the way journalists conduct themselves, the relevant entities should be contacted.


Mabuza also urged journalists to investigate stories and not rely on sources for information.


‘Do not run for a story without satisfying yourself that it is not foul play. Investigate a story and confirm it.’


Secretary General of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) Timothy Simelane said the alleged detention and harassment of the two was unfortunate.


‘From what we have gathered so far, the journalists were on duty and had been promised a story yet this was not to be the case. However, no matter the circumstance, the police had no prerogative to harass them, nor detain them for so many hours.


‘Members of the public are also warned not to take journalists for a ride by promising them news, yet the motive is to abuse them to settle personal scores with opponents. Similarly, journalists are warned not to fall for scheming bogus sources, but to screen them first to avoid being taken for a ride.’


Simelane said the association would investigate the matter further.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

POLICE GO AFTER SWAZI DEMOCRAT

Swazi police are looking for excuses to arrest one of Swaziland’s most prominent human rights advocates.


Police are saying that Musa Hlophe of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Citizens (SCCCO) made statements at a funeral that might be considered litigious.


Police tried a similar move against Mario Masuku, President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), but had to drop the charge when they could find no evidence. Instead police charged Masuku with sedition.


According to the United Nations body, The Human Rights Observatory Hlophe is alleged to have made a litigious statement at the funeral of a dead lawyer, Mr. Musa 'MJ' Dlamini, who died in suspicious circumstances planting a bomb in September 2008.


The allegation against the police is being treated seriously in Swaziland. The Swazi Observer newspaper – the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III – has given credence to the Observatory by publishing its allegations today (18 December 2008), not only in their newspaper in Swaziland, but on the internet, thereby alerting the world.


The Observer reports that Swazi Police Public Relations Officer Superintendent Vusi Masuku said he was not aware that Hlophe was wanted by police.


The Observer reports that the Observatory expressed deep concern about the situation prevailing in Swaziland. It reported that ‘the Observatory urges the Swazi authorities to conform to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly’.