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Saturday, 28 February 2009

SWAZI YOUTH RALLY LEADERS RAIDED

Leaders of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) have been arrested ahead of a planned protest rally due today (Saturday 28 February 2009).


Wandile Dludlu, the SWAYOCO President and other members of the banned organization, were taken by police in dawn raids yesterday at Msunduza Township in the kingdom’s capital, Mbabane.


Thabile Zwane, SWAYOCO Secretary General, is said to be on the run from police.


Dludlu was later charged with an offence under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

According to SWAYOC, about 50 police raided houses in search of pamphlets advertising the rally to protest at the jailing of Mario Masuku, the President of another banned organization, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).


Phindangene Mndzebele, Deputy President of SWAYOCO, in a statement said, the home of Dumsile Masuku, the sister of former president of SWAYOCO, Bongane Masuku, was one of the homes raided.


‘Dumsile was harassed by the close to fifty police officers and her home was turned upside down by the overzealous police who don’t have anything to do but only harass and intimidate members of SWAYOCO,’ he said.


Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini had threatened SWAYOCO that it would feel the full force of the law if the rally scheduled for 2pm at Msunduza went ahead. Last November Dlamini declared SWAYOCO and three other political entities, including PUDEMO, to be terrorist organizations. This means that members and supporters could face up to 20 years in jail.


The Swazi state has been intimidating pro-democracy advocates since Dlamini was appointed Prime Minister in October 2008. A number of police raids have taken place on people suspected of being supporters of banned movements.


The US State Department, in its annual country report on Swaziland released this week, noted in the past year, ‘Government agents continued to commit or condone serious abuses, and the human rights situation in the country deteriorated.’


These abuses included, ‘police use of torture, beatings, and excessive force on detainees; police impunity; arbitrary arrests and lengthy pretrial detention; arbitrary interference with privacy and home; restrictions on freedoms of speech and press and harassment of journalists; restrictions on freedoms of assembly, association, and movement; prohibitions on political activity and harassment of political activists’.


In his statement, Mndzebele said, ‘Why is the government scared of a rally because all SWAYOCO rallies have been peaceful it is not the duties of the police to ban marches and use the same torture methods used by the apartheid regime the duties of the police is to maintain peace and order and the rally has not even begun but our leaders have been arrested.’


SWAYOCO confirmed that today’s rally will go ahead as planned.


Swazi Police spokesman Superintendent Vusi Masuku warned those who attended the rally that they would be committing an offence because SWAYOCO is a banned organization.


Masuku told the Weekend Observer, ‘We still insist that they should call the rally off as we the police will definitely crush it.’

Friday, 27 February 2009

EMPTY PROMISES OF SWAZI RULERS

The only independent newspaper in the kingdom, the Times of Swaziland, has launched a fierce attack on the Minister of Finance Majozi Sithole on the day he is set to announce the national budget.


The newspaper accuses the minister of making ‘empty promises’ in the past. ‘Sithole has been making poverty alleviation promises for a decade now but the poverty levels are far from declining’.


Times managing editor, Martin Dlamini writes today (27 February 2009) that even though 69 percent of the one million people in Swaziland live in abject poverty, international observers say that Swaziland is not a poor country. This is because of the way the kingdom’s wealth is distributed.


On specific issues, Dlamini notes


HIV AIDS

HIV/AIDS has once again gained strength over the Swazi people. Infection rate has jumped back to 42 percent. T his is not entirely government’s fault but it can certainly take a large share of the blame for failing strategies.


HEALTH

Last year Sithole said government was committed allocating 15 percent of the national budget towards the health sector. He disappointed us with a 10.6 percent allocation.


CIVIL SERVICE

Last year he observed that the civil service wage bill stood at 53.6 percent of the government expenditure which he described as significantly compared to the internationally recommended 35 percent.


He said government had decided to take steps to reduce the size of the civil service with E153 million set aside for a voluntary retirement scheme. We have seen no voluntary retirements. Instead, government has increased the size of the civil service with an additional ministry.


UNEMPLOYMENT

Sithole estimated last year that of the over 10 000 school leavers that join the labour market every year, only 2 000 are absorbed into the formal market. For the 8 000 others, he promised that the Ministry of Enterprise and Employment would shortly be presenting the Employment Bill, which would help set up an unemployment insurance fund


He said government would also give more support to the Swazi entrepreneurs through strategic interventions in creating business opportunities by giving first preference to Swazis and hoped that the passing of the Competition Bill 2007 would create an environment which would raise the standards and quality of locally produced goods and materials to compete at international level.


Where are we with all these? The unemployment in this country was last reported to be at 28 percent when in actual fact it seems more at 45 percent now?


EDUCATION

Government remains guilty of failing to provide free education as per the requirements of the constitution. Last year Sithole threatened to introduce an education levy to fund this exercise. Brace yourselves. He may announce this new levy today.


Dlamini concludes, ‘Listen with great concentration to the budget speech today on these very important issues and don’t allow yourself to be fooled by a repetition of old promises.’


To read the full article, click here.


SWAZI YOUTH RALLY VIOLENCE FEARS

Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has threatened members of a youth organisation that they will not be allowed to hold a rally in support of jailed Swazi democrat Mario Masuku scheduled for tomorrow (28 February 2009).


Meanwhile, the Methodist Church has asked organisers, the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), to cancel the rally because it fears there will be violence if it goes ahead.


The Prime Minister’s office released a statement saying that the government regards SWAYOCO as a terrorist organisation in Swaziland and because of this it will not be allowed to meet.


SWAYOCO is determined to hold a rally in support of Masuku, the president of another banned organisation, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO). Masuku is presently in jail awaiting trial on charges under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.


The rally is to be held at Msunduza in the Swazi capital Mbabane, starting a 2pm.


The Methodist Church has asked SWAYOCO to call off the rally because, according to the Swazi Observer today (27 February 2009), ‘they were afraid of what would happen if there could be confrontation between the police and SWAYOCO members’.


According to the Observer, Wandile Dludlu, President of SWAYOCO, said it would not postpone the rally. He said if the church wants to talk to someone then it should be the police.


‘If they feel there is going to be violence then let them talk to the police and not us.’

SWAZI DEMOCRAT WINS COURT FIGHT

Swazi democrat Mario Masuku, in jail awaiting a trial on terrorism and / or sedition charges should be allowed to receive visitors, the Swaziland High Court has ruled.


The Swazi state had refused to allow Masuku, arrested under the Suppression of Terrorism Act since November 2008, to have visitors because some unspecified people may want to injure and harm him. According to the Swazi Observer yesterday (26 February 2009) the Government lawyers also feared there would be so many visitors that the Matsapha Prison would be unable to cope with the influx.


Masuku, the president of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), will now be allowed to see lawyers, doctor, associates, next of kin, friends, supporters, pastors and others. Previously only next of kin, legal representatives and personal doctors were allowed to see Masuku.


According to a report in the Times of Swaziland yesterday, the High Court said the crown prosecution ‘seemed to forget that Masuku was still considered innocent before the eyes of the law’.


This decision puts the High Court in direct conflict with the Swazi Government led by illegally-appointed Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini. Dlamini has a record of ignoring court rulings if he disagrees with them.


The Masuku trial could be seen as a test case for the Swazi Government as he was the first person to be arrested after Dlamini declared PUDEMO and three other political entities ‘terrorist’ organisations. This means members and supporters of the banned organisations could face jail terms of up to 20 years.


The Times reported that during the High Court hearing the judges repeatedly noted the inconsistencies in the way the state wanted the court to interpret the law.


The newspaper noted that Government lawyer Sanele Khuluse spent much of the time answering questions from the judges than he did making his submissions. The High Court ruled that government should pay the costs of the application.


Later, Masuku’s lawyer Thulani Maseko said he was happy with the judgement and hoped that the court order would be respected.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

SWAZI YOUTH RALLY TO GO AHEAD

The Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) is set to go ahead with its rally to call for the release from jail of Swaziland democrat, Mario Masuku.


As I reported yesterday (25 February 2009), Swazi police have vowed to stop the rally scheduled for Saturday (28 February 2009) at 2pm at Msunduza in the kingdom’s capital Mbabane. We can expect the Swazi police to be violent against the protestors.


Ahead of the rally SWAYOCO has issued the following statement.


SWAYOCO’s Statement for the Release Mario Rally

28 February 2009 Msunduza 2pm


Themed: Against all odds, the youth shall conquer!!

{Kuyawutfombha Indishi yelipulasitiki yebarnabas}


In light of the prevailing political situation in our country. The Introduction of yet another draconian piece of legislation. That being the Suppression of Terrorism Act no 2 of 2008.the youth, SWAYOCO and PUDEMO members in particular are now subjected to even greater scale of intimidation, harassment and discrimination by the Barnabas led pre-school of the tinkhundla system of oppression.


However, as per our preamble in the Youth Charter of SWAYOCO


“We the youth of Swaziland declare for all the people of our country and the world to know, that as part of the oppressed whose forebeares were conquered not only by force of arms, but also by reactionary values of subjugation, we continue to suffer all social, political ,economic and cultural deprivation of a colonized people”


We therefore wish to say to the managers of this political bastard called {Tinkhundla system of repression}


  1. Release our leader Mario Masuku, for you know not what you’ve arrested him for!!!
  2. Release our internationalist, Comrade Mbedzi, six months has passed for him languishing in your dirty gaiolors
  3. Vacate the TROIKA chairmanship, SADC was hallucinating when they voted you to such a seat
  4. Scrap off terrorism act Swaziland has freedom fighters not terrorists only Barnabas.
  5. Where is the free education as you promised the bulk poor majority of Swazis?
  6. Stop the exorbitant rates fees charged by Mbabane city council of thugs


The youth under the command of SWAYOCO pledges with their blood and flesh as tacit guarantees of a democratic victory for the betterment of the jobless and poor people of our country youth in particular!!!


Amandla Ngawetu, power to the youth, away with royal oppression.