Swaziland Solidarity Network
4 August 2011
South African Government shuts it doors on Swazi Pro-democracy movement.
The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) is calling upon the South African government to stop dilly dallying at a time when it has a genuine opportunity to exert pressure on Swazi authorities to stop human rights abuses and end the Tinkhundla dictatorship.
The Swazi people, through their political parties and civic organizations, made it clear that they wanted assurance that any loan granted to Swaziland by the South African government would come attached with strict and clear demands to create a transparent political environment which would make sure that the assistance is not in vain.
The key immediate demands of the Swazi people are:
1. The unconditional unbanning of all political parties.
2. The release of all political prisoners
3. The return of all exiles.
4. The unconditional freedom of all political prisoners.
5. The drafting a democratic constitution.
6. Freedom of expression in all media broadcasting institutions and a complete end to censure.
7. The end of the Tinkhundla royal experiment.
8. The election of a transition government.
The South African government ignored all these demands and instead focused on its own bilateral agreements with the Swazi government. This is fair, as no government will bail out another for free.
The South African government is free to extract as many concessions from its Swazi counterparts as it can. However, it is wrong to trivialise the efforts of Swazis to engage them on the bigger issue of sound governance and democracy. If truth be told, the pro-democracy movement has been ignored by the South African government.
There is nothing tangible that is listed in the conditions of the loan that will lead towards democracy in Swaziland. The conditions are nothing but vague and empty but nice sounding words that tip toe around the issue, mentioning human rights and democracy here and there but in the end giving no concrete plan on the role that the loan agreement will play in encouraging the Swazi government to pave way for those things to become a reality.
Ironically, the statement issued by the Minister of finance is very clear on the repayment of the loan. As long as Swaziland is a member of SACU and continues to contribute to it, there is no way that South Africa cannot get its money back. That is the only thing that is worth telling about the loan agreement. Everything else is just a lot of hot air.
It is extremely disheartening to note that this comes from a government of a democratic country, lead by a political party that was put in power by a democratic process which only became a reality due to the support and sacrifice of virtually the entire world.
When Apartheid ended in South Africa, an elderly statesman was quick to vilify the United States of America for having sided with Apartheid for so long while the rest of the world was opposed to it – a role that the South African government is now playing. On another occasion he went on to give moral support to the Palestinian cause but still said nothing about the oppression in his backyard. In all these years neither he nor his followers have ever given support to the cause for democracy in Swaziland. Their hypocrisy stinks all the way from Gauteng to Mbabane.
Issued by Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN)
SSN TO MARCH FOR LOAN CONDITIONS