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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

PM’S AWARD: LETTER OF PROTEST

The following is an open letter from the Swaziland Democracy Campaign to members of the board and past recipients of the World Citizen Awards. It is in response to the announcement that Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, is to receive a medal in recognition of his work for human rights.

An Open Letter to the Board and Past Recipients of the World Citizens Awards

28 September 2010

Dear Board Members and Past Recipients

We note with dismay, that the World Citizens Award is to honour the Prime Minister of Swaziland, Mr Barnabas Dlamini in October 2010.

We also note the mission statement of the World Citizens Award as follows:

‘The mission of the World Citizen Awards, in its founder's own words, is to champion human rights and maintain governance, democracy, equality, international peace and goodwill. It is also committed to working for people's amelioration through medical missions, outreach programs and counseling to the deprived, the abused, the humiliated and the sick’.

Prime Minister Dlamini has recently, on two occasions, advocated the use of a barbaric and banned torture method to be meted out to democracy activists within and outside of Swaziland who support the call for a democratic Swaziland.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister was not elected by free and fair elections. He discharges his powers without a popular mandate, and solely on behalf of this continents last absolute monarch.

The first time he was withdrawn as PM was when he out rightly undermined a court ruling over the issue of Kamkhweli and Macetjeni where the courts ruled against the monarchy and confirmed rights of the people to their land. Barnabas overruled the court decision and there was global uproar that led to his recall by the monarchy. Further, he was the Finance Minister that designed the neo-liberal economic framework that subjects the people of Swaziland to hunger, in the form of the failed ESRA (Economic and Social Reform Agenda, Swaziland's own GEAR) when he was Finance Minister around 1992 before leaving to work for the IMF and coming back to be Prime Minister.

He is also in the King's Advisory Council, the SNC (Swazi National Council) which presides over the political strategy of the ruling regime and drives the system and its abuses, hence making him directly responsible for the atrocities against our people. During his reign of terror and that of his system, many disturbing events have happened; union, student, and banned political parties’ leaders has been detained, tortured and murdered and this include the murdering of Sipho Jele in police custody after being arrested on May day for wearing a t-shirt with the colours of the liberation movement of Swaziland, the People’s United Democratic Movement-PUDEMO

Many International Human Rights organisations are condemning human rights violation and lack of democracy in Swaziland, especially following the arrest, intimidation, detention and forced deportations of international delegates who had attended the Global Week of Action on Democracy in Swaziland organised by the Swaziland Democracy Campaign.

Given the above, it would frankly be a travesty if this award were to be given to this particular individual or indeed to any member of the Swaziland Government or Royal Elite as it has in the past. The Swaziland Government does not maintain good governance, is not democratic, does not practice equality or promote goodwill and peace.

To emphasise this point, the Swaziland Government was severely criticised in June this year by the International Labour Conference made up of Employers, Trade Unions and Governments who make up the global tripartite UN body precisely because it failed to ensure that basic human and civil rights were practiced or tolerated in Swaziland. If these questions are being raised by a United Nations body, it surely must be important to check the credentials of recipients before making a decision to celebrate their contribution.

Amnesty International has also raised serious concerns about the behaviour of the Government, and the advocacy of torture by your potential recipient.

Furthermore, more than 60% of the Swaziland population live on less than one US dollar per day, while literally millions of dollars are spent annually on the conspicuous consumption of the Royal Elite. A very large percentage of the population are in need of HIV/Aids treatment, and social infrastructure, including health, housing and education remain chronically inadequate. All of this can be verified.

Under no circumstances does this mean that either the proposed individual recipient or the Government he represents are committed to working for people's amelioration through medical missions, outreach programs and counseling to the deprived, the abused, the humiliated and the sick’.

If the credibility of the World Citizens Award is to mean anything, then we would urge its Board Members, and all those of good standing who have received the award to make their voices heard, and not allow the award to be given in breach of the most fundamental of human rights.

Finally, can we bring to your attention that if those representing the World Citizen Awards were to visit Swaziland, and declare themselves ready to champion human rights and maintain governance, democracy, equality, international peace and goodwill’ they could in fact run the risk of being forcibly arrested, accused of being ‘illegal invaders’ and deported for contradicting the laws of Swaziland as were visitors in September this year.

In order to maintain the respect that is rightly given to those who do enhance a human rights agenda, we ask that you withdraw the offer of an award to Mr Barnabas Dlamini. To do otherwise would forever diminish the meaning of your awards, and by association, ensure that it will be seen by the world as little more than an apologetic devise for human rights abusers.

Yours sincerely

Stephen Faulkner

Ntokozo Mbhele

Co Coordinators of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign.

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