April 12 2010 Seminar
Intensifying Our Struggle for Democracy in Swaziland, The significance of the 12th April and banning of the constitution and political parties by king Sobhuza in 1973.
In 1973, as the rest of Africa was liberating itself from the yoke of colonialism, and as the South African apartheid regime was beginning to be tested by the new wave of struggle by independent trade unions and popular protest, the then King of Swaziland, bucked the trend and sent Swaziland backwards into history.
On April 12th 1973, King Sobhuza proclaimed the following:
"Now, therefore I, Sobhuza 11, king of Swaziland, hereby declare that, in collaboration with my cabinet ministers and supported by the whole nation, I have assumed supreme power in the kingdom of Swaziland and that all legislative, executive and judicial powers is now vested in myself and shall, for the meantime be exercised in collaboration with my cabinet ministers.
“I further declare that to ensure the continued maintenance of peace, order and good government, my armed forces have been posted to all strategic places and have taken charge of all government places and all public services. All political parties and similar bodies that cultivate and bring about disturbances and ill-feelings within the nation are hereby dissolved and prohibited."
This draconian proclamation has been in existence ever since. Swaziland is not the idyllic kingdom where monarch and subjects enjoy tranquillity and prosperity. It is among the most corrupt nations on earth. It has the highest incidence of HIV/Aids infection, and its people suffer chronic levels of poverty while its royal elite languish in breathtaking wealth, protected by a ruthless intelligence force and army.
Despite decades of repression, many Swazi nationals have challenged the rule of the Royal elite. Some have suffered as a result, through persecution, false and lengthy imprisonment, torture and by a systematic denial of human rights as illustrated by the Kings proclamation.
However, the tide is turning. In Swaziland the impact of a deepening economic crisis, compounded by the misrule of the current Royal elite has plunged the country into new depths of disarray. The Royal elite are nervous, to survive, they need to squeeze the poor still further, and to mobilise repression to enforce the attacks on workers and the poor, but they face a major obstacle.
For the first time in many years, Swazi civil society is organised. Trade Unions, Students, Faith Based Organisations and community groups have bonded together to campaign for a democratic Swaziland. Internationally, Swaziland Democracy Campaign groups are emerging with a new enthusiasm. They are determined to isolate the royal elite and its regime, and expose the myth of a happy kingdom ruled by a benevolent monarch.
To mark both April 12th, and more recent developments, the Swaziland Democracy Campaign is holding a public seminar under the theme, Intensifying Our Struggle for Democracy in Swaziland, The significance of the 12th April and banning of the constitution and political parties by king Sobhuza in 1973.
A panel of informed speakers will share their insights, and open up a discussion on the prospects for democratic change in Swaziland, and the opportunities that exist to offer practical solidarity.
Confirmed speakers include:
Cde Mandla Hlatshwayo (Founding PUDEMO member, former treason trialist and a prominent Swazi businessman)
Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF)
Venue: COSATU HOUSE (10th floor)
Date: 12 April 2010
All progressive forces are invited
May you distribute the statement to all your networks!
For more information contact:
Ntokozo Mbhele on 072 370 0974 Ntokozo@publicservices.co.za
Or Philani Ndebele on 076 942 3565 firstname.lastname@example.org