One of Swaziland’s most prominent banned political parties says it will be ‘occupying all the
Streets’ of the kingdom over the next three days as ‘freedom fighters in defence of what belongs to us, the people’.
The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) is joining with trade unionists, students and other activists, in a series of mass protests for democracy in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Public servants have been banned by court order from taking part in demonstrations, because they did not give seven days notice to the government of their intentions to strike. But, it is unclear whether they will obey the court order.
Protests are expected all over Swaziland for three days starting today (11 April 2012) to highlight the need for democracy in Swaziland, where all political parties are banned and the king controls the government and the judiciary. The demonstrations mark the anniversary in 1973 when King Sobhuza II tore up the constitution and began to rule by decree.
PUDEMO said in a statement to activists, ‘We have been jailed together with yourselves dear comrades, we have been persecuted together, we have organized together, we have fought the most vicious and brutal system in modern times and in all these instances, we never shied away from our responsibility to confront the enemy in the trenches.
‘We are not so much of paper tigers than we are freedom fighters, ready and determined at all times to be with all oppressed and fighting masses wherever they happen to be. We know too well that your cause is not just yours, but for all the oppressed and daily exploited masses of our country.
It added, ‘You know, from your own experience, who to turn to when things get tougher, you know who stand with you in the picket lines, you know who is ready to go with you to jail and you know who is the force always acting in defence of unity and principled revolutionary action.’
It went on, ‘We shall be engaging the enemy directly, as we always do, without apology. Intimidation and state terror are not going to make us back off, hence our call to all our dear friends to join us in whatever way in this historic act of history in the writing.
‘From the 11th April till the 13th we shall be occupying all the streets of our country as freedom fighters in defence of what belongs to us, the people.’