Leaders of opposition groups in Swaziland are banned from speaking in public.
This is confirmed at the end of a week-long series of protests for democracy in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
In 2008 he declared a number of pro-democracy entities in Swaziland to be illegal. He said they supported terrorism. The groups included the people’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO); its youth wing SWAYOCO and the Swaziland Solidarity Network. All activity by these groups, including public statements and meetings is illegal.
But during the past Global Week of Action for democracy in Swaziland many prohibited groups marched in various locations in the kingdom. Leaders of the groups, including Mario Masuku, the President of PUDEMO, made speeches in favour of regime change.
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, asked Prime Minister Dlamini whether the public appearance of so many banned groups and their leaders meant the ban no longer held.
The PM’s office denied that banned organisations took part in the protests. It told the Times, ‘Banned organisations did not participate formally – they participated as individuals.’
The ban on the pro-democracy organisations still stands, the PM’s office confirmed.
SWAZI POLICE BEAT PUDEMO LEADERS