Earlier today (2 July 2008) I reported on the Swaziland Government’s decision to ban a march in protest against ritual murders in the kingdom.
The decision has evoked fury from the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO), which has condemned the ‘cowardice’ of the Swazi Cabinet for banning the march.
The SCCCO calls the ban unconstitutional in not allowing ‘people to freely assemble and to speak out’.
SCCCO says it is going to march anyway.
Reproduced below is a media release issued by the SCCCO.
Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations
Press Statement 2 July 2008
Coalition Condemns Cabinet Cowardice
The Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations today expressed its continuing exasperation at the complete lack of regard for the Bill of Rights as expressed by the Cabinet in particular and government in general. In ‘not approving’ a proposed march that sought to raise awareness and express revulsion at ritual killings in pursuit of political power the government has once again got on the wrong side of the rights argument.
It is not the government’s place or duty to approve marches rather, there are inalienable rights of the people to freely assemble and to speak out as enshrined in Constitution. Under the constitution there are exceptions to these rights and they are the defence of the nation, public order, public morality, or public health. There is nothing in the proposed demonstration that could in any way be said to threaten these things.
The reports in the press are that the cabinet was of the opinion that the demonstration will bring the Kingdom into disrepute and that the King has already spoken on the matter. While neither reason is enough in law or in common sense to invoke any sort of limitation on our freedoms, they also contain a contradictory element. Is the cabinet accusing the King of bringing Swaziland into disrepute?
Leaving the issue of our rights to one side, we would have expected the full support of the Cabinet in speaking out against these despicable crimes. In whose interest is the ban being effected? Who can possibly benefit from their silence? If the demonstration saves only one killing then it will have been worthwhile. To ban it is to invite the blood of future victims onto the hands of the cabinet.
We call on the government to wholly disown the statement and to stand up for and protect the rights of all Swazis to live, to assemble and to speak.
The Coalition therefore issues notice that it will support a march in protest
- At the ritual killings and the use of muti in political life.
- At the ritual killing of our rights by a government that either does not know or does not care about them.
It calls upon everyone that cares for their rights and welfare to join us. It extends the invitation to include those cabinet members and existing and prospective MPs that have the courage to call themselves democrats.
Statement Issued by
Musa I N Hlophe
SWAZI GVT BANS MARCH AGAINST MURDERS