20 September 2011
Swaziland Manzini rendered ungovernable
In a rare and unprecedented show of anger, public transport drivers and conductors in Swaziland yesterday (19 September 2011) physically engaged Swazi security forces as they literally took charge of the country’s industrial hub city of Manzini.
COSATU salutes the people of Swaziland for their relentless determination to expose the undemocratic and repressive governance and call for fundamental change now.
In Manzini today, the public transport drivers and conductors engaged in a protest at the bus rank over socio economic issues. The bus rank was brought to a standstill and things became bad.
True to their nature the security forces began to disperse the crowds by shooting teargas, rubber bullets and beating protesters in a bid to open the taxi rank as its closure has seriously hampered business and free movement. New tactics of protesters rarely seen in Swaziland, the protesters instead of dispersing and running they turned back pelting the police with stones and burning tires in the middle of the streets.
This is a scene which reminds one of South Africa in the late 80s as the revolution had grown strong and the promise of democracy imminent. The situation in Swaziland today is very much like those times.
This is a shock to the regime and the security forces in particular as the once obedient nation that took orders without question are now standing up in popular resistance to highlight their right to be heard.
The protests were sparked by the sectors concerns over the financial situation in Swaziland. They took to the streets to raise their concerns and dissatisfaction in the manner in which they are targeted by the regimes traffic policing. The regime has resorted in processes resembling a criminal act in order to raise quick revenue for the regime.
Public transport operators and general motorists are targeted by traffic police in a bid to raise 3000 000 per quarter for the regime. Attempts to raise this issue with the regime proved fruitless as they got no commitment from them instead they continue to receive brutal and exorbitant fines imposed on them.
The situation was truly out of control today as the protesters threatened to petrol bomb the police armoured vehicles and forced police to withdraw in defeat. For the better part of the day Manzini had been at a complete standstill and the battle between the protesters and police continued into the night.
On the other hand lawyers remain resolute and the boycott continues. The teachers’ battle in their struggle to get necessary resources to help them educate children, the government is unable to release funds to the schools to allow them to function properly. Approximately R85million is needed but the regime would rather spend the money on the reed dance instead of education and health.
More police reinforcement was brought to Manzini to “control” the situation and the streets of Manzini became a battlefield again with police beating anybody and everybody on their way.
Shockingly according to an eyewitness near William Pitcher Teachers College, a vehicle fleeing the exchanges between police and the public transport protesters knocked off two pedestrians a man and a woman who were severely injured and feared dead.
People were stranded and had to walk to their destination as transport was grounded. The disruption was mainly on the Manzini and Mbabane route but other towns were affected too. According to people inside there have been unconfirmed reports that a police officer was beaten to death and two other people were shot dead. The town of Manzini was trashed as protesters overturned bins and threw trash all over.
We salute the democratic forces of Swaziland and send our solidarity in all its forms. Change in Swaziland is no longer a pipe dream it is inevitable. It won’t be long now, Salute and revolutionary greetings to all who seek progressive change for the people of Swaziland.