Kenworthy News Media, 17 June, 2014
Danish democratic socialist party, the Red-Green Alliance, on Monday (16 June 2014) sent a statement of support for two imprisoned democracy advocates to Swaziland’s government, writes Kenworthy News Media.
President of the pro-democracy party, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Mario Masuku, and youth leader Maxwell were arrested on May Day, and subsequently charged with sedition – Masuku for expressing support for his own organization in a speech, Dlamini for allegedly shouting “viva PUDEMO”. They have been in prison since then, as they were denied bail.
Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini were remanded in custody until September 24, 2014 during yesterday’s court session, as their lawyer Leo Gama applied for a postponement of the case to enable the pair’s legal team to challenge the Suppression of Terrorism Act No.3 of 2008 that they are charged under.
Swaziland is in effect an absolute monarchy, although the country holds general elections. These elections were heavily criticized by the Commonwealth Observer Mission, who monitored last years’ election. Amongst other things because all parties are banned and the king chooses the Prime Minister, the government, a large proportion of the senators, and in effect wields a large influence over the election of MP’s through a chief-controlled system, as well as the legal system.
Over two thirds of the Swazi population survives on under a dollar a day, many on food aid from the United Nations.
Read the full statement below:
Statement of support in the trial of Swazi democracy advocates Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini
The Red-Green Alliance party, Denmark, 16. June 2014
Mario Masuku, President of the pro-democracy People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) in Swaziland, and PUDEMO youth league Secretary General and student leader, Maxwell Dlamini, were arrested and imprisoned on May Day. They have since have been charged with sedition, and for contravening the Swazi Suppression of Terrorism Act, for giving support to a “terrorist entity” – PUDEMO. They will appear in court today, 16. June.
Mario Masuku had delivered a speech to the Swazi trade union confederation TUCOSWA where he merely expressed support for his organization, PUDEMO. Maxwell Dlamini had allegedly sung a song that included the words “the king must go”, and both had allegedly shouted “viva PUDEMO” together with the thousands of others who had gathered to show their dissatisfaction with king Mswati III’s absolute monarchy, that has left two thirds of the population in absolute poverty whilst a small elite live in luxury. They have both been refused bail.
The Red-Green Alliance wishes to extend these two comrades our full and unequivocal support, and want to state clearly that we believe that such preposterous charges prove that the Swazi regime simply wishes to lock up anyone who questions its undemocratic rule, however peacefully.
Today, 38 years ago, thousands of students like Maxwell Dlamini, who were equally tired of being oppressed by an unjust and divisive political system, revolted in Soweto in apartheid-South Africa. They eventually prevailed, amongst other means by winning the support of the international community.
People in Swaziland are simply asking the Danish government, and other governments and NGO’s, to support Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini in their struggle for democracy and socio-economic justice.
The arrest of Masuku and Dlamini follows the arrests of, amongst others, PUDEMO’s Secretary General, Mlungisi Makhanya, who was arrested along with six other members of the organization for wearing a T-shirt with PUDEMO’s logo at a trial.
The arrests have been condemned by, amongst others, the South African trade union federation COSATU, in a press release that described Swaziland as “one big national prison”.
Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini have been arrested on questionable charges several times before, and Maxwell Dlamini claims to have been tortured by the police in 2011. He was receiving treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Red-Green Alliance
The Red-Green Alliance
The Red-Green Alliance is a democratic socialist party which aims to combine politics for social change with politics for solving the great environmental problems both on national and international level.
The Red-Green Alliance has, for several years now, been in a project partnership with PUDEMO that seeks to assist the organization in the achievement of its ultimate goal – achieving democracy and socio-economic justice for all Swazis.