Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) says it is not clear that Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, had the right to ban the protest planned in Swaziland for tomorrow (12 April 2011).
The government of Swaziland is nervous, possibly afraid of the movement for democracy in Swaziland. Instead of seeking to repress it should accept the legitimate demand for political freedom and accountability, it says.
Swaziland: the right to protest on 12 April should be upheld, says ACTSA
11 April 2011
Following the Prime Minister of Swaziland’s statement seeking to ban protests planned there for 12 April, police have already begun to clamp down on pro-democracy supporters in the country. This weekend, police raided the home of Barnes Dlamini, President of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, and four leaders of pro-democracy organisations were arrested as they returned from a meeting in South Africa . It is anticipated there will be numerous other arrests on Monday, ahead of the planned action on 12 April.
The protests are for democracy, rights and against major cuts which will deepen poverty in Swaziland. They are planned for 12 April to mark the 38th anniversary of the 1973 decree which declared a state of emergency and banned political parties. The state of emergency is still “de jure” in effect today and political parties remain banned.
It is not clear that the Prime Minister has any legal authority to seek to ban a planned protest. He argues permission is needed but not been sought. The organisers believe permission is not required.
What is clear is the government of Swaziland is nervous, possibly afraid of the movement for democracy in Swaziland. Instead of seeking to repress it should accept the legitimate demand for political freedom and accountability.
The Swazi government has a record of using force to crush dissent. ACTSA urges the Swazi government to show restraint and respect the right of protestors to express their views. Attempts to deny that right are attempts to stifle democracy. ACTSA believes people in Swaziland have the right to freedom of organisation and expression. The right to peaceful protest should be upheld.
Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) is the successor organisation to the Anti-Apartheid Movement. Since 1994 ACTSA has been campaigning with the people of southern Africa as they strive to build a better future, working for democracy, rights and development across the region. www.actsa.org