The following is a statement from the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations (SCCCO) released today (7 March 2011)following a report that two container loads of arms were transported from Maputo through Mozambique to Swaziland this past weekend.
SCCCO says these ARMS OF WAR are only to be used on the citizens of the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, with disastrous results.
Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations
Statement on the alleged Military Arms Purchased by the Swaziland Government
The Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations shudders to learn of disturbing reports in Mozambican, South African and local media that there is a large consignment of MILITARY ARMS OF WAR at a port in Maputo, Mozambique destined for Swaziland. We know that the British Government refused a shipment worth over E420 million, has that amount been transferred to this deal?
We condemn, in the strongest possible manner, this gross misallocation of state funds against the backdrop of the severe and catastrophic economic crises engulfing the country when most ordinary Swazis live in the face of grinding and abject poverty. It occurs at a time of serious threats to the salaries of teachers, nurses, those who provide security and protection, politicians and other public servants. When the ordinary people suffer the daily collapse of government services such as the provision of drugs, clean water, quality education, elderly grants and students’ scholarships, civil society cannot be silent in the face of such misspending. It appears that the government is prepared to sacrifice the entire livelihood and welfare of the country’s citizens in preference to amassing ARMS OF WAR, when there is no single credible threat to Swaziland’s security. These ARMS OF WAR are only to be used on the citizens of this country and with disastrous results.
This huge and unnecessary waste of public funds flies in the face of the government’s statement to the effect that it is committed to the welfare of the citizens of this country. Worryingly, this expenditure seems to fly in the face of the International Monetary Fund’s recommendations to cut public spending that does not lead to economic development. It is apparent that their advice is falling upon deaf ears.
As civil society, we call upon the Citizens and Members of Parliament of Swaziland to reject this insensitive, malicious and poorly planned piece of financial indiscipline. ARMS OF WAR will not silence the will of the people for a just and open society that respects the needs of all and not the wishes of the few. To the government of Swaziland and the Head of Security forces we say, the people will not be controlled through brutal force and intimidation. Loyalty and respect do not come through the barrel of a gun but through the empowerment of every Swazi citizen. We demand that the purchase of these ARMS OF WAR be cancelled immediately. Instead, the funds for such a purchase must be channeled towards teaching our children, caring for the sick, feeding the hungry and lifting the country out of poverty.
We call upon the Mozambican government to freeze the shipment of these ARMS OF WAR and prevent it from being transported through its country into Swaziland and we call upon South Africa to do the same.
We appeal to our colleagues in civil society across the SADC region and at the African Union to lobby their governments to apply pressure on Swaziland to cancel the ARMS OF WAR deal.
To the International Community, we ask for solidarity and support in ensuring that no ARMS OF WAR reach Swaziland while it is clear that the government will use them to continue to perpetrate human rights abuses and repress peaceful, legitimate dissent.
ARMS SHIPMENT HEADS TO SWAZILAND
POLICE CONFIRM ARMS SHIPMENT
NOW, POLICE DENY ARMS SHIPMENT