The Americans seem to be true to their word when the Swazi Ambassador said the United States would support groups that are campaigning for democracy in the kingdom.
News comes this week that ‘unlimited’ funding is to be made available to what the kingdom’s only independent newspaper, the Times of Swaziland, calls ‘progressives and members of civil society’ to assist in projects designed to ‘liberate’ the kingdom. Issues around the rule of law, gender issues and giving voice to the voiceless are thought to be priorities.
According to the Times, the organisations receiving funding will be able to mobilise support of people at grassroots level all over Swaziland.
The funding will be managed by the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisation (SCCCO) and issues around the rule of law, gender and giving a voice to the voiceless will be priorities..
The funding comes through a partnership between SCCCO and Freedom House, a donor organisation based in the US that describes itself as ‘a non-profit, nonpartisan organization [that] is a clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world’.
According to Musa Hlophe, SCCCO coordinator, the funding will be used by non-government organisations, such as the Swaziland United Democratic Front, which has members including organisations deemed to be ‘terrorist’ organisations by Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed Prime Minister of Swaziland. These are the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO).
Hlophe told the Times that Freedom House was very practical and wanted people to work and not host endless fruitless meetings.
He said the organisation had pledged an unlimited amount of funds to be used in various projects for the kingdom’s struggle. He said the funding has no cap and there is an unlimited pool of funds waiting.
The move follows the announcement by Maurice Parker, the US Ambassador to Swaziland, in January 2009 that the US Embassy would support pressure groups to ensure that democracy is fulfilled in Swaziland. He said many pressure groups had trouble organising meetings, ensuring freedom of speech, or pursuing the right to assembly freely. He promised he would work with government and all pressure groups to ensure that the bottlenecks to free expression, freedom of association and full political determination are realised in Swaziland.
Swaziland is presently ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, political parties are banned, parliament has very few real powers and the king makes most of the important decisions in the kingdom.
CLARIFICATION. The SCCCO released a media statement denying that unlimited funds were to be made available by Freedom House. See US NOT TO FUND SWAZI FREEDOM FIGHT