Diplomats who were invited to the Foreign Office this week only to be furiously insulted by the Swaziland Government are demanding an apology.
More than 30 diplomats, including ambassadors and high commissioners who are based in either Swaziland or Mozambique, attended a meeting in good faith believing they were to receive a presentation about the dire state of the Swazi economy.
But before they were given the figures they had to sit through what local media have variously called a ‘tirade’ or a ’10 minute rage’ from cabinet minister, Ntuthuko Dlamini.
He accused the diplomats of dining with Swaziland’s enemies – he meant members of the pro-democracy organisations the Swazi Government has banned and labelled ‘terrorists’.
‘You cannot be seen to be with my enemy and still think I appreciate your presence and anything that you do,’ he told them.
He also abused those present by telling them that they should stand up in front of him if they could demonstrate that their own country’s system of government was perfect. He offered a gift of five cows to anyone who could do this. No one did.
I wasn’t at the meeting, but I can imagine that the diplomats were dumb-founded by this behaviour. Even by the standards of Swaziland, where people with the manners (and less ability) of farm animals get to be cabinet ministers, Ntuthuko Dlamini’s behaviour was unusual.
When asked at the end of the meeting if they had anything to say, only one of the diplomats spoke.
The others maintained their dignity and left quietly.
Today (8 April 2011), the Swazi Observer newspaper reports, ‘Information gathered was that the diplomats had demanded an apology from the ministry of foreign affairs for being called into a meeting only for them to get a tongue lashing.’
It gave no further details.
SWAZI GOVERNMENT ABUSES DIPLOMATS