5 September 211
As Swaziland teeters, protesters launch week of action
About 300 protesters today (Monday 5 September 2011) danced and sang freedom songs in the streets of Swaziland's capital Mbabane, at the start of a planned week of protests against Africa's last absolute monarch, King Mswati III.
Impoverished Swaziland is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, in a financial crisis that has spawned a series of protests this year to demand that Mswati accept multi-party democracy and resolve a budget crunch that has left the kingdom battling to keep schools and clinics running.
Heavy security surrounded the march, which authorities had tried to stop with a court injunction at the weekend.
The protesters were demanding that the government tax the royal investment firm Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, essentially controlled by Mswati and used to finance his lavish lifestyle, including luxury cars and palaces for his 13 wives.
The firm has stakes in almost every sector of the Swazi economy, from hotels to media.
"Tibiyo should rescue us," read a placard waved by teacher Agnes Mazibuko, who said the investment firm's resources should benefit the public.
"It was supposed to be invested and kept in trust for the nation so when we have crises like this it could be used, but instead it is used by royalty," she told Agence France-Presse.
The demonstrations are being organised by a coalition of pro-democracy movements, known as the Swaziland Democracy Campaign.
To read the full AFP report, click here.
PHONES CUT AS SWAZILAND PROTESTS