This is how the Weekend Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported the mass demonstrations in Swaziland yesterday (18 March 2011).
'PM, CABINET MUST GO'
19 March 2011
Over 8 000 teachers, students and workers unions including the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU), Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL) and members of proscribed political parties PUDEMO and SWAYOCO and Civil Society organisations participated in a mass protest on Friday organised by the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT).
The protesters boldly called for the resignation of Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini and his cabinet en masse.
Other organisations that joined the march were the Street Vendors Association, Swaziland Association of Ex-Miners, National Association of Public Servants and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and textile industry employees.
The march, which managed to attract a fair share of foreign media, including South African and international media houses, started off on a rather low note at the Coronation Park just after 9am, but hardly an hour later, more protesters from different parts of the country flocked into the country’s capital city - Mbabane to participate.
By late afternoon, the march had gained momentum as thousands of protesters prompted a complete standstill in the streets they passed through.
All speakers, especially leaders in the participating unions, insisted on the immediate resignation of the country’s premier and the entire cabinet, though no clear ultimatum was spelt out on when the resignations should occur.
Two petitions were delivered - one at cabinet offices and the other at the ministry of public service.
Both petitions were received by Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service Evart Madlopha on behalf of the Premier and the Minister of Public Service Mtiti Fakudze.
The prime minister’s absence and the unavailability of both the Principal Secretary in the PM’s office Mbuso Dlamini and the minister of public service irked marchers who clearly stated that they would have loved to personally deliver the petition to either of them.
Initially, Martin Dlamini, who is the Smart Partnership Head of Secretariat, and Patin Nxumalo, who is the head of security, were delegated to receive the first petition on behalf of the premier.
The duo, however, received a rather nasty welcome from the protesters who boldly told them they were too junior to handle such sensitive matters.
An overcharged SNAT president S’bongile Mazibuko, who manned the microphone when the two officers showed up to receive the petition at the cabinet office gate at Hospital Hill, screamed “Ma comrades, ungatsi ndvunankhulu utfumele mabhalane we Smart Partnership kutsi atowemukela le petition, kepha angati noma basebenti bayakuvumela loku”, which can be loosely translated to “Comrades, the Smart Partnership head of secretariat has been assigned to receive our petition on behalf of the prime minister. Should we allow him to do so?”
The crowd of protesters screamed “angeke”, which means “no”, and this assertion was followed by a chant implying that the protesters were prepared to wait for the premier to return from wherever he was until the following day so he could hear for himself what they had to say.
After about 20 minutes, the protesters later relented amidst murmurs of approval when PS Madlopha pitched up at the gate to receive the petition. A series of grievances were listed on the petition.
This was only one of a number of reports on the march published in the Observer. To read more, click here.