The ‘uprising’ in Swaziland scheduled for 12 April 2011 will be an ‘Egyptian-style occupation of Mbabane,’ according to a South African newspaper.
The Mail and Guardian, a Johannesburg-based newspaper, reported yesterday (26 March 2011), ‘Maxwell Dlamini, president of the Swaziland National Union of Students, one of the few organisations to identify itself publicly with the April 12 campaign, which began anonymously on Facebook, said the plan was to stage “an Egyptian-style occupation of Mbabane”.
‘“We chose this date because it was when our freedoms were taken away from us; now we want to have those freedoms back,” Dlamini said. “We're planning the biggest demonstration possible and we'll occupy the streets of Mbabane until our demands are met, this government resigns and we have democracy for the people of Swaziland.”’
The newspaper claimed that the April 12 Uprising – as the Facebook group calls itself - ‘appears to be steered from Johannesburg by the Swaziland Solidarity Network, which is run from the South African Communist Party's offices’.
This prompted a response from the April 12 organising committee, which in a lengthy statement issued on its website yesterday, said the uprising group was unaffiliated. ‘Every Swazi, no matter his/ her affiliation, is invited to the Swazi uprising,’ it said.
The statement went on to give background to the creation of the uprising group.
It said, ‘It is important that people understand where the feeling that this was an opportune time for mass demonstrations came from. Without a doubt the inspiration was from the dozen or more countries in the Arab world who decided that they had had enough of dictatorships.
‘Those countries had two things in common that observers regarded as the catalysts for the uprisings. The first was the long histories of dictatorship. There were instances where some rulers had been in power for over thirty years. Political and civil liberties were suppressed by most of these leaders and democracy was non-existent.
‘The second was the economic marginalisation of a majority of the population. With these two issues Swaziland was politically and economically a domino in line with the rest of these nations despite the fact that it was geographically far removed from the site of action.
‘It was inevitable that someone in Swaziland would imagine the possibility of a Tinkhundla free Swaziland via mass demonstrations. Having imagined it, it was easy for such an individual, or group, to then relay the message to the rest of the population.
‘That we came up with the initial plan does not make us heroes or celebrities. In days gone by, when cattle herders saw an impi (warriors) advancing, they simply made the battle call. There was nothing heroic in doing that. And after the war had been fought, they resumed their cattle herding duties.
‘The April 12 uprising was called because there was an urgent need for it, nothing more nothing less. In fact Swaziland had a more urgent reason for rising against the government and creating a democracy. Swazi people have very little to lose nowadays. Even new born children can see that the economy is in tatters and that the situation will get worse soon.
‘Due to the fact that people do not spontaneously organize themselves, the Swazi uprising committee was therefore formed, practically comprising three people. And their mandate was to kick start the process which would see to it that all Swazis joined the movement. It was further decided that due to the fact that the media is not only censored but in fact pro-monarchy, all forms of media that can reach the Swazi people should be used, hence the reliance on Facebook.
‘Knowing Swazi people, the Facebook group that was created had to state clearly that this group was unaffiliated. This was done deliberately to stop any group claiming to be behind it. It was also to ensure that all independent thinkers felt free to join without feeling that a particular party or movement would dominate its direction.
‘All political parties and civic organizations that were contacted and invited to take a leadership role have behaved very magnificently and they ought to be congratulated. Thanks to them, the independence of the movement has remained.’