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Thursday, 25 August 2011

SWAZI KING: ARMS BEFORE PEOPLE

Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Press Release

25 August 2011

The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) condemns the Swazi government’s attempt at buying military hardware and equipment for purposes of repression!

As we enter into another Global Week of Action for democracy in Swaziland (GWoAS) we are reminded of the barbarity and repressive character of Mswati’s regime as revealed by an alarming wiki-leak that the regime attempted to purchase US$60 million worth of advanced military hardware and equipment. The leak reveals that although the Swaziland Ministry of Defence argued that the equipment was for the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force for UN peacekeeping missions in Africa, the real purpose was actually for containing popular dissent and repressing those campaigning for democracy in Swaziland. This is clear from the character of the arms to be bought. The purchase is said to have included requests for 3 Bell Model UH-1H helicopters, light machine guns, blank and tracer ammunition, armoured personnel carriers, command and control vehicles including one fitted with a 12.7x99mm M2 browning heavy machine guns, military ambulances, weapons sights, military image intensified equipment, optical surveillance system, assault rifles, semi-automatic pistols and sub-machine guns 9x99mm.

Swaziland is a country faced with total economic collapse, where the university and other colleges are closed for lack of funding, where mass poverty and starvation have increased and where parasitism by the royal elite remains unhindered and is prepared to go to any lengths to protect its narrow selfish interests. We reject this reactionary and wasteful expenditure! The people of Swaziland need food, health, jobs and decent education not helicopter gunships and instruments of oppression!

As the campaign wing of the trade union and civil society sponsored Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF), the SDC wishes to categorically state that the democratic movement will resist all attempts to clampdown on the global week of action for democracy in Swaziland (GWoAS). This is an event that was initiated by the democratic movement, that saw many of our activists being arrested and detained on the streets of Mbabane and Manzini in 2010, that has now become a popular event in the Swazi democracy calendar and that has generated a global momentum beyond Southern Africa. It shall continue to do so!

This murderous disregard of the needs of the Swazi people provides impetus towards the launch of a comprehensive global boycott campaign targeting the economy, sporting and cultural activities, arms, etc. The recently convened COSATU meeting between Swazi and South African progressive organisations is the first step towards the launch of this campaign. We are determined to ensure the total isolation of the oppressive Swazi regime and its parasitic royal family.

Meanwhile, we will continue to pursue solidarity actions during the GWoAS in more than 15 countries across the globe. Various chapters of the SDC are currently finalising their programmes and a full programme of activities will be released soon. South African activities include:

1. As the SDC we will be sending delegations to Swaziland for the activities of the week. This will demonstrate our belief that solidarity means more than statements and pickets, but entails facing the risks and dangers faced by Swazi activists on the ground. We salute the many COSATU affiliates for their outstanding display of internationalism, as they commit to sending delegations as in 2010.

2. We will convene pickets at the various branches of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) on the 9th September 2011, from 12pm -2pm. The main picket will be at the Johannesburg branch of the SARB.

3. The SDC Cape Town chapter will convene a picket outside the South African parliament on the 6 September 2011 from 12pm -2pm.

Further information on the GWoAS coming soon!

See also

SWAZI SECRET ARMS DEAL FOR IRAN

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/02/swazi-secret-arms-deal-for-iran.html

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