14 April 2011
Another media editorial siding with the Swaziland protestors.
Swazi King must see writing on the wall
The authorities in Swaziland have shown their total disregard for human rights and the right of people to show dissent by violently breaking up the April 12 protests by using tear gas and water cannons.
Media reports indicate that the strike organisers and other labour leaders in Swaziland had been rounded up and imprisoned over the last three days although most of them have since been released. The Swazi monarchy needs to be condemned for the high-handed way that they treat protestors. The monarchy should learn lessons from what is happening in North Africa and some parts of the Middle East.
A regime whose time has come can never postpone its demise. A people who want to kick out a rogue regime can never be deterred, not even teargas or water cannons can forestall a revolution whose time has come. The protests, which have been planned for three days mainly from Swaziland's second city of Manzini, have largely been suppressed through intimidation and the use of force by security agents.
The protests now dubbed the "April 12 Protests" were somewhat modelled along the North Africa peaceful uprisings that brought down regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. The protests gained momentum, thanks to the social network Facebook and platforms. Many young people popularised the protests on Facebook until it became a reality that the Monarchy and the security agents could not ignore. We must state at the outset that the issues raised by the protestors are legitimate which any government can only ignore at its own peril.
The protests were partly meant to commemorate 38 years since King Sobhuza declared Swaziland a complete monarchy. Sobhuza suspended the constitution and transferred power to the monarchy.
Since April 12, 1973 the power to appoint the Prime minister, Cabinet ministers, judiciary and even the curtailment of press freedom and other democratic rights became the preserve of the King. In Swaziland today the right to associate and the right to free assembly and media freedom are exercised to the will and whim of the king. Protestors merely wanted to send a message to the king that this state of affairs is untenable and he should find better ways of addressing the issues. Instead of listening the King has reacted with violence.
This kind of behaviour should not be tolerated in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. Of course we are aware that Swaziland is a sovereign state, but when a regime visits violence upon its own citizens merely for protesting it becomes the concern of everyone. We in the SADC region and Botswana in particular should condemn the king and his security operatives for their undemocratic conduct. People of goodwill in Botswana should even go further and lend moral support to the protestors. Let's help the Swazis in their endeavour to democratise their beautiful land. It can never be okay to have a monarchy that lives in stupendous affluence when the vast majority of the people are wallowing in poverty, HIV/AIDS and other ills.