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Saturday, 27 February 2010

SPEAKER SLAPS DOWN ILLEGAL P.M.

The Speaker of the Swaziland House of Assembly has told Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed Prime Minister to his face that he is answerable to Parliament.


Dlamini had asserted earlier in the week that he was answerable to no one, and even King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch had to consult him on some matters.


Yesterday (26 February 2010,) Speaker Prince Guduza told Dlamini and the whole House of Assembly that the Prime Minister answered to Parliament.


The House was meeting to hear Finance Minister Majozi Sithole deliver his annual budget speech, but before e could begin Speaker Guduza read a prepared statement.


In it he said, contrary to the PM’s assertion, the PM was not head of Parliament, instead, the king was.


He said, ‘No member or individual of this House, regardless of his status or position is above the authority of the Speaker. On the contrary, the Speaker is accountable to this House in its collective form and to His Majesty the King.’


He said the Swaziland Constitution sections 68 and 69 made this clear.


He said anyone who said otherwise ‘should be condemned by all law abiding citizens’.


Senate President Gelane Zwane had previously said that there was a separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary in Swaziland. Dlamini angrily denounced Zwane and told the kingdom that he was in complete control.


In what may have been a reference to Dlamini’s subsequent bullying of Zwane, the Speaker said, ‘Intimidation, manipulation of politicians by another, and in part, using the treasury as battle-ground to settle political scores is devoid of civilised decency and smacks of flagrant abuse of State power.’


The Prime Minister reacted angrily to the Speaker. Dlamini told the Speaker in the House of Assembly, ‘We will answer on what you have just said. You should not take advantage just because you’re the Speaker.’


The Speaker called the PM to order and instructed him to stick to what was in the order paper and nothing more.


According to the Swazi News, an independent newspaper, ‘During recess, legislators conversed in hush tones regarding what had happened inside the chamber; with others predicting that more was still to come.’


More still to come? Yes, I think that’s a fair prediction. Dlamini will not want to take this, but he has now been publicly reminded of his limited powers by both the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Assembly. If he continues to abuse his power he will no longer be able to claim that Swaziland is a democracy.

SWAZI JUDGE DEFENDS CONSTITUTION

A Swaziland High Court judge has rewritten a law because it denies women their human rights.


Justice Qinisile Mabuza said she was entitled to do this because the Swazi Constitution allows judges to defend the rights of the Swazi people.


It happened on Tuesday (23 February 2010) when Justice Mabuza ruled that Swazi women may register property in their own name.


The ruling made national and international news, but as far as I can tell no media pointed out that Justice Mabuza had defended the constitution.


She wanted to find in favour of the applicant Doo Aphane but the law as it stood denied Aphane her human rights. So the judge changed the law.


It involved S16 (3) of the Deeds Registry Act, which reads:


‘immovable property, bonds and other real rights shall not be transferred or ceded to, or registered in the name of, a woman married in community of property, save where such property bonds or real rights are by law or by a condition of a bequest or donation excluded from the community’.


The judge said she would ignore this and instead rewrite the paragraph. She cut out the words ‘not’ and ‘save’ and replaced ‘save’ with the word ‘even’, thereby making the paragraph say the exact opposite to what the lawmakers intended.


The paragraph now reads:


‘immovable property, bonds and other real rights shall be transferred or ceded to, or registered in the name of, a woman married in community of property, even where such property bonds or real rights are by law or by a condition of a bequest or donation excluded from the community’.


To see the full judgement click here.


Justice Mabuza, the only woman High Court judge in Swaziland, says she is entitled to do this because ‘S151 (2) (a) of the constitution states that the High Court has jurisdiction to enforce fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, This includes the right to equality which is guaranteed by sections 20 and 28 of the Constitution.’


She also criticised the Swazi Government for not moving faster to ‘embark on aggressive legal reforms especially those relating to women who have been marginalised over the years in many areas of the law.’


She awarded the costs of the trail against the government ‘in the hope that such sanction will galvanize them into action’.


This is a brave decision from Justice Mabuza. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of it. How can Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed Prime Minister of Swaziland, who only this week said he was answerable to no one except King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absoluter monarch, let this go?


Just think what would happen if it caught on and all High Court judges started rewriting laws so they gave people their human rights.

Friday, 26 February 2010

SWAZILAND P.M. VICITIMISES CRITIC

Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed Prime Minister of Swaziland, is victimising the senate leader who said he and the Swazi government are answerable to parliament.


Senate President Gelane Zwane pointed out what everyone who understands democracies knows, that there should be a separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.


But Dlamini said: No. He was in charge of everything and not answerable to parliament.


Now as punishment for speaking the truth, Dlamini has decided that Zwane cannot travel outside of Swaziland on official business without his permission.


It’s a very petty move from the Prime Minister, but one entirely in keeping with him: he will bully anyone who stands in his way.

SWAZILAND P.M. LEADS SILENT COUP

We all know that Barnabas Dlamini is the illegally-appointed Prime Minister in Swaziland, but now he has set himself up as a dictator to rival King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, himself.


Dlamini has told the media in Swaziland that he is in charge of nearly everything in the kingdom – the members of parliament, the senate and the judiciary. The only one above him is the king himself and sometimes even he has to act on the recommendation of Dlamini, he said.


He was reacting to a statement from Senate President Chief Gelane Zwane who said there is a ‘separation of powers’ in the kingdom. She said parliament was not an arm of government and the cabinet, including the PM, was responsible to parliament.


Not so, says Dlamini. It’s me and me alone. Even the king has to listen to Dlamini when it comes to dissolving parliament, he said.


He said Zwane had spoken out of line.


The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, went so far as to say Zwane had been ‘put in her rightful place’ by the prime minister.


In fact, she hadn’t been. She was right and the Prime Minister is wrong.


Dlamini’s taking of power (a coup you might say) was not noticed by the Swaziland media which (as they nearly always do) simply recorded his words.


The Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO) was more alert. It said in a statement,


‘At last the Prime Minister has openly admitted that the full and proper independence of both Parliament and the Judiciary is a sham and that the control of budgets, staffing, legislative and judicial timetables are all within the power of the Prime Minister to exercise and manipulate. Yet he calls Swaziland a “fully democratic state”. ‘


It goes on, ‘In a democratic state, the will of the people is expressed in its choice of government. In Swaziland, the people’s will had no say in the choice of government. There were hundreds of thousands of votes for parliamentarians whose wishes are now being overruled by the Prime Minister who only received one vote [that of King Mswati who appointed him]. How can he call that a democratic state? He is not accountable to the people or parliament.’

SWAZI DEMOCRACY CAMPAIGN AIMS


The following is a statement from the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, following its launch on Sunday 21 February 2010. Among other things it tables a number of forthcoming activities to press for freedom in Swaziland, including a week of action, a boycott of luxury goods for the Swazi Royal Family and a ‘global march for democracy’.


SWAZILAND DEMOCRACY CAMPAIGN

Campaigning for democracy in Swaziland NOW!

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

25 FEBRUARY 2010

On the 21st of February 2010 the world witnessed the launch of a global initiative to support pro-democracy forces in Swaziland; the Swaziland Democracy Campaign. This is a product of many years of working together between South African and Swaziland organisations which include political parties, trade unions, churches, youth and students organisations.


The SDC is an expression of the just and legitimate struggles waged by the Swazi people in their quest for human dignity, justice, democracy and human rights. It endorses the principle of justice denied anywhere, is justice denied everywhere. Further, that the freedom of all the peoples of the world remains incomplete without the freedom of the people of Swaziland.


Our Programme


In this regard we wish to state that immediate campaigning priorities will be :


A Global week of action beginning on the 12 April 2010 which will see an intensification of measures to unleash a massive programme all over the world focusing on Swaziland.

An acceleration of a comprehensive boycott of luxury goods of the ruling class and the non handling of items such as weapons by workers all over the world, that are used to brutalise the people, as well as isolation of members of the oppressive regime from schools and other places where they receive superior attention that those reserved for ordinary people inside the country.


A Global March for democracy in Swaziland, otherwise known as the Swazi Democracy March (SDM) on the 6th September, to coincide with the so-called independence celebrations; to raise and popularize the struggle for democracy. This march shall involve people from all over the world joining the Swazi people inside Swaziland for a historic march whose details are yet to be fully released, in order to make the world taste the reality faced by the Swazi people everyday. The SDM shall include fact-finding missions, visits to various areas to assess the conditions in the country and briefings. A huge media contingent from all over the world shall accompany the events.


Development of a Swaziland Information Bank where we shall deposit and receive information about developments inside the country on a regular basis


Establishment of a Swazi Democracy Fund, whose full details shall be released in due course


All these shall be co-ordinated by a Joint Co-ordinating team made up of 4 people from Swaziland and 4 people from South Africa to constitute a transitional team which shall lead until November, 2010 where a proper co-ordination mechanism shall have been determined to lead this initiative and the work involved. The names of the Co-ordinators shall be released in two weeks time, after all mandating processes have been fulfilled.


The crisis deepens in Swaziland


For decades the people of Swaziland have been subjected to inhumane treatment at the hands of an entrenched and ruthless ruling elite. Poverty has continued to ravage the mass of people and especially in the rural areas.


Swaziland has been subjected to the longest state of emergency in the whole world, now having been in place for a staggering 37 years.


Political parties remain banned, opposition parties and movements are proscribed, and the notorious Suppression Terrorism Act is used to prevent any expression of democratic activity.


HIV has destroyed many families and communities. Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infections in the whole world. Life expectancy has dropped from 65 to 31 in the last 13 years, and the regime remains complacent to its devastating impact.


The cost of education makes it completely inaccessible to many poor communities, forcing many learners to drop out.


Women and children’s rights are undermined daily, and abuse is commonplace, is often justified in the name if culture.


Recent reports have confirmed arbitrary killings of unarmed civilians by the army and the police, and yet no one is held to account. Political activists are regularly arrested, tortured and humiliated.


The recent student struggle is a case in point. In this regard we wish to strongly condemn the arrests and torture of a number of student leaders over the last two weeks, and the forced suspension/expulsion of Bhekie Khumalo, the president of the Swaziland National Union of students-SNUS for raising legitimate student concerns. The regime has closed six tertiary institutions putting the future of thousands of poor Swazi youth in jeopardy. Of course the children of the ruling elite do not study in the country but are in other parts of the world enjoying their education at the expense of the people of Swaziland.


This endless litany of abuse against the people of Swaziland has been taking place under the noses and the eyes of the world; and the world has largely remained silent.


This must come to an end. It will come to an end.


The SDC is a platform for the whole world to do what is right, to defend humanity. It will provide progressive forces of Swaziland, and all peace and democracy loving people around the world, an opportunity to do something practical to raise and amplify the voices calling for democracy in that country.


A joint strategy meeting of civic organisations from both countries has endorsed a Programme of Action through which pressure will be mounted on the regime to democratize.


There will be campaigns to put increasing pressure on the regime to force it to respond to the demands for democracy. The strategy meeting recognized the important role that must be played by the Swaziland United Democratic Front working with all those who wish to see a democratic Swaziland.


We are confident that these initiatives will be successful and will be supported globally. Many organisations have pledged their support to the Campaign, these include the Southern African Trade Union Coordinating Council-SATUCC based in Botswana, Action for Southern Africa-ACTSA based in London, and the British Trades Union Congress, and very many individual organisations and activists in other countries such as Denmark, Tanzania and Norway. Unions in South Africa especially those under the banner of COSATU have fully endorsed the campaign.


This Campaign does not seek to replace existing organisations but to compliment their work. In this regard, the demands of the SDC are shared demands amongst those who have been involved in the struggle for democracy for decades, these include :


· the unbanning of political parties

· the unconditional return of all exiles


· free and democratic multiparty elections


· freedom of the media


· an independent judiciary


· an end to abuse of culture and women’s rights


We also call for the immediate scrapping of the Suppression of Terrorism Act, which makes it a terrorist offense to belong to certain parties and organisations.


We take this opportunity to salute the gallant fighter of the people, Cde Mario Masuku the president of the People’s United Democratic Movement-PUDEMO who was arrested under this act and spent over 350 days in detention without trial. We salute all those who have been victimized in this manner.


In conclusion, we wish to salute other solidarity structures that continue to do work on Swaziland, the Swaziland Solidarity Network-SSN based in South Africa, the Swaziland Democracy Watch in Denmark and the Swazi Vigil in Britain. We encourage activists around the world to intensify the call for democracy and assist with all available resources to build unity in action of all forces for change in Swaziland.


We call on multilateral institutions such as SADC, AU, EU, and UN to begin to put the issue of Swaziland on the agenda. SADC in particular must stop awarding King Mswati with leadership positions in the region while he oppresses his people. This is a mockery of the peoples of SADC.


This is a call to action in defense of humanity.


For further information contact :

Philani Ndebele on 0769423565 Venitia Govender 0822223074