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Tuesday, 10 March 2009

SWAZI CIVIL SERVICE POLITICS PURGE

Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has threatened to sack Swazi civil servants who campaign for democracy.


He announced yesterday (9 March 2009) that his unconstitutionally-constructed government is drafting a charter that will compel civil servants who are members of political parties to either renounce their membership or resign from the civil service.

‘If they refuse to resign from these organisations, they will be pushed out,’ Dlamini told Swaziland’s House of Assembly.

The move is another attempt by Swaziland’s ruling elite to stifle political dissent in the kingdom. Last November, Dlamini branded four political entities as ‘terrorist’ organisations and now members and supporters face up to 25 years in jail.

Mario Masuku, President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), one of the branded entities, has been in jail since November awaiting trial on a charge under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Leaders of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) have been harassed by police and a rally at the end of February intended in support of Masuku was smashed by police.

In the latest development, Dlamini said his government was aware that some civil servants were ‘fighting the system’.

The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, today (10 March 2009) reports Dlamini saying, ‘This should not happen. In the Commonwealth (former British colonies) countries, civil servants are not supposed to publicly declare their alignment with political parties. It is even worse, especially here in Swaziland where these civil servants even occupy prominent positions in these organisations.’

The Prime Minister was responding to a question from MP Patrick Gamedze who asked why civil servants with anti-government political views were kept in the civil service and why Swaziland’s Intelligence Branch allowed it to happen unchecked.

The Times reported Dlamini saying his government was drafting a charter and also amending the General Orders to prevent this from happening. He advised those civil servants involved to resign from the civil service if they wanted to be politicians.

The newspaper said it was then that he stated that they would be given a chance to put their houses in order failing which they would be ‘pushed out’.

The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, reported that MPs were ‘thrown into rapturous laughter’ when the PM made his threat.

The newspaper reported that it is ‘public knowledge’ that many civil servants, including school teachers were critical of the government.

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