The following is a statement issued by the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), the ‘youth wing’ of the People’s United Democratic Movement – both are banned in Swaziland,which is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
SWAYOCO says that the uprising in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya has made Swazis think it is possible to remove ‘a ruthless and oppressive regime like the one they live under in Swaziland’.
Let the World intervene in the Swaziland crisis
SWAYOCO STATEMENT: 10 MARCH 2011
As an organization we would like to add our voice on the current problems engulfing our country, Swaziland. What is important to understand is that our people have been quiet for 37 years. The uprising in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya has made Swazis to think it is possible to remove a ruthless and oppressive regime like the one they live under in Swaziland.
Our country is ruled by an absolute monarchy which is semi-feudal and unashamedly capitalist. The late king, Sobhuza, banned political parties in 1973, banning all “commoners“ from participating in all political activities. Swazis were denied the right to political association and freedom of assembly.
A lot of unions were banned in the 70s including the Swaziland National Union of Teachers (SNUT) which later emerged in 1983 as an association of teachers (SNAT). Swazis were denied the right to shape the destiny of their own country and this gave way to the regime to exploit our people.
A lot of companies came into Swaziland to invest their money and the king announced the formation of Lifa fund. The sole purpose of this fund was to empower Swazis and one of its initial tasks was to buy back land from settler farmers.
Capital for this fund was sourced from Swazis who were forced to submit cattle (one cow per homestead) for its formation. The name of this fund was later changed to Tibiyo Takangwane. This is an institution that was, and still is, held by the King in trust on behalf of the Swazi nation.
Development and Crisis
Tibiyo has developed into one of the biggest entities in the country. It owns half the economy of the country. It has invested in almost every industry in the country and it is immune from taxation. It has never been taxed for the past 30 years.
It has even to grown to the extent that it has invested billions of Emalangeni outside the country. The main problem with this trust fund is that over the years it has never been used for the benefit of the Swazis.
It has been portrayed as if it is a piggy bank for the royal family. Members of the royal family have been abusing it as if it is their inheritance from the late king. They have quashed any suggestions that this money should benefit all Swazis whilst on the other hand they have formed companies, such as Inyatsi, that win government tenders daily while squandering the little resources that the Swazis have.
This is one of the main reasons why the country has been plunged into a deep economic crisis. Swazis have no money because more than 80% of the population has been forced to live and share the less than 20% of the country’s economy.
The monarchy has been very successful in making sure that Swazis can’t say anything about what is happening in the country. They have used oppressive laws to suppress the voices of the poor masses of our people. They have organized pseudo elections under the so called Tinkhundla system where the people elect 55 members of parliament who have no power. The king then appoints a further third of all members of parliament. The MPs themselves have no right to question the King, who also has constitutional power to veto any parliamentary decisions
He spends recklessly. Each year there are useless celebrations like Incwala, Buganu, Kings Birthday and the Umhlanga which waste our taxes. He has even initiated useless billion dollar vanity projects such as the Sikhuphe airport and the Royal Science Park. Both these will cost the tax payer more that US$ 1 billion each.
The current threat that faces our people is that this government is having a cash flow crisis. It is struggling to pay salaries of civil servants and the government is already using pension money to pay salaries which means these civil servants are working for nothing because when they retire they may not receive anything.
Students at tertiary level are faced with the threat of having their scholarship being withdrawn. It is also worth noting that since 1968 the government has only built 10 schools. All along parents have been and are still building schools by paying building fund in schools. Schools are very expensive in Swaziland with parents paying an average of US$ 700 per year whilst they also have to pay their own medicine in hospitals. 70 % of the population lives below US$1 per day and 50% of the population live on food hand out.
Our organization has been fighting for democracy and the restoration of the rule of law in the country for the past 20 years. We therefore reiterate the call made by all unions in the country that this government must go. By government, we do not mean just the cabinet. We mean the entire governing structure including the king and his numerous fattening ranches known as emabandla (Advisory Councils in English).
In order to restore the dignity of our people who have been subjected to perpetual poverty we call upon every Swazi to stand up and be counted and do what is right for the country. We must remove this government NOW! All political prisoners must be released unconditionally and exiles must return to our beautiful country. Let every Swazi be involved in the building of our country. We call upon every nation of this world not to recognize Mswati’s rule. He must return all monies belonging to our people. We demand the unbanning of all political parties.
Away with the Tinkhundla System of Government!!!Power to the People! Amandla!
Aluta continua! The Struggles continues!
Issued by the Swaziland Youth Congress [SWAYOCO] PUDEMO Youth league