The Africa Contact NGO, based in Denmark, is asking people to write letters of protest to the Norwegian High Commission in South Africa to protest at comments made by Norwegian MP Urne Haugen on a visit to Swaziland. Haugen reportedly said Norway wanted to collaborate with Swaziland on social issues.
See Peter Kenworthy’s blog here for more details.
Below is a protest letter sent today by Africa Contact.
30 March 2011
To: The Royal Norwegian Embassy in South Africa
H.E. Mr Tor Christian Hildan
We at Africa Contact in Denmark wish to protest against the support for the Swazi regime that the Norwegian Minister of Agriculture, Urne Haugen’s, recent comments and dealings with Swaziland Meat Industries imply.
Swaziland Meat Industries (SMI) will be hosting Urne Haugen, who will be visiting a number of processing areas, according to the Swazi Observer, who quotes SMI Board Chairperson Ron Howe as saying that “the minister would visit numerous farmers with feedlots in the country and those in cattle farming.”
Mr. Haugen was quoted in the paper as saying that “I hope that my visit here can lead to more knowledge about your country among Norwegian authorities and collaboration on social issues. I am very grateful for the hospitality I have received which is unlike any other I have seen.” (http://www.observer.org.sz/index.php?news=22963)
As you are hopefully well aware, Swaziland is an absolute monarchy where political parties have been banned since a State of Emergency was issued in 1973, where the regime brutally and routinely clamps down on all calls for democracy however peaceful, where two thirds of the population live below the poverty line whilst the monarchy and small elite live in luxury, where hundreds of thousands survive on food aid from the World Food Programme, where over 40% have Aids, and where over 40% are unemployed.
In addition to this, due to the financial mismanagement of the Swazi regime, the regime has recently chosen pay cuts and redundancies of civil servants and the suspension of this quarter’s pensions for the elderly over touching the extravagant spending of the monarchy and its ministers.
We therefore believe that there is plenty of knowledge already available on the plight of the Swazi population, and hope that any collaboration on social issues that the Norwegian Government plans to undertake with the Swazi regime is accompanied by concurrent demands for much-needed democratisation and financial redistribution.
We therefore demand that the Minister in all public distance himself from the repressive regime in Swaziland, as a way to show his and Norway's full support for the democratic movement in Swaziland and their demands for multi-party democracy.
We look forward to your response to our letter.
Morten Nielen and Peter Kenworthy
ANGER AT NORWAY'S SWAZI SUPPORT