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.’
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