Swaziland Democracy Campaign
2 November 2011
Royal Swazi Police stop workers’ prayer
After the court order issued by the Industrial Court of Swaziland calling off the protest action that had been planned for the 1st to the 5th November, the workers then resolved to have a prayer meeting on the 31st October 2011, in the form of a night vigil to pray for the problems that have engulfed the country.
The prayer was to be held at premises belonging to the Lutheran church in Mbabane and it would be followed in the morning by the submission petitions to the High court and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security by the leaders of the Labour Coordinating Council (LCC).
However, the workers were denied the right to exercise their right to enjoy their freedom of religion by a combination of a battalion of security forces comprising of the Royal Swaziland Police as well as His Majesty’s Correctional Services and these were being led by the Hhohho Regional Commander, a Richard Mngomezulu.
The security forces (according to Mngomezulu) were acting on their own discretion and under the authority of the Public Order Act of 1963, which Act goes against the spirit of the Constitution of Swaziland of 2005 which guarantees the freedoms of assembly, of association and expression. This gives credence to the assertion by the pro-democracy movement in Swaziland that we are living in a police state.
The re-installed Minister of Labour and Social Security, chief propagandist and unofficial spokesperson of the county, Lutfo Dlamini is on record stating that any person attending the prayer shall do so at their own risk. Thus, apart from exercising their own discretion, it can logically be inferred that the security forces were acting on instructions from the regime’s authorities.
In order to stop the prayer from taking place, the security forces threatened, intimidated and harassed the persons responsible for allowing the meeting to proceed at the Lutheran Church. Furthermore, they surrounded the premises and ordered the workers to disperse. It was clear from their conduct and attitude that they would go to all lengths to ensure that the prayer did not continue.
Apart from the human rights in abuses meted on pro-democracy activists that have become the norm, the regime is now denying the ordinary Swazi from exercising their right to gather and pray together. And this flies in the face of the King when he made the call to all Swazis to pray for the country, which call was also echoed by his mother, the Queen Mother recently
Here comes into play again the issue of the “forked tongue” that the Honourable Justice Thomas Masuku spoke of in the judgment that got him fired from the bench. The King says one thing, but the authorities and security forces behave in a contradictory manner when Swazis attempt to heed the King’s call. Who do these authorities and security forces answer to?
This is a symptom of the confusion that is reigning supreme in the minds of the authorities, including that of the highest authority of the land. It is a sign that the struggle is to be intensified from all fronts as a breakthrough is just beyond the horizon.
The SDC joins the workers and all pro-democracy voices in condemning the conduct of the security forces and authorities of this country.
We say aluta continua comrades!!