Business Day, Johannesburg, 11 April 2011
THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) yesterday took issue with SA’s foreign policy for allegedly failing to condemn human rights abuses in Swaziland.
"We want to ask why the Southern African Development Community leaders, including our own South African government, are keeping silent about the situation in Swaziland," Zingiswa Losi, Cosatu’s second deputy president, said.
"How does it happen that our government has the guts to act with the world on Libya and has the courage to confront the situation in Zimbabwe with the boldness we see, but do nothing on Swaziland?"
Ms Losi was speaking in Johannesburg at a forum to mark the first anniversary of the Swaziland-SA Campaign for Democracy in Swaziland. The forum, attended by about 100 delegates, was meeting on the eve of a planned three-day mass stayaway in Swaziland tomorrow. Cosatu plans a 3km march to the Oshoek border post in Mpumalanga in solidarity.
Addressing the forum, George Mahlangu of Cosatu’s organising unit urged Swazi youth to "make that country ungovernable" and said: "That young man (King Mswati) is looting the country."
Justice Dlamini, general secretary of the banned People’s United Democratic Movement, called on the king to relinquish his position gracefully before being forced out. "The monarchy and their friends get comfort when they visit SA. We feel very painful when we find them sitting in swinging chairs with you (South Africans)," he said.
Mr Dlamini called on the South African authorities to ban the monarchy’s ministers and their children from getting healthcare and education in SA.
The monarchy has already cracked down on dissidents organising the protests. Mduduzi Gina, secretary-general of Swaziland’s United Democratic Front, was prevented from travelling to the meeting yesterday. In a message read on his behalf, Mr Gina said the monarchy was applying to the high court to prevent the protests.
The youth wing of the African National Congress, the Young Communist League, and Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union have also voiced support for democratic change in Swaziland.