Mario Masuku: Swaziland plunges into socio-economic crisis

The following is from a press statement following a presentation at Burgers’ Park Hotel, Pretoria, 7 October 2010, where PUDEMO President Mario Masuku said he was “humbled” by the contribution of the attendees and promised the “undivided commitment to the liberation of our country”:

Just when most of the countries in the African continent are developing and enjoying good governance, stability and respect for universal human rights, Swaziland is sinking deep into a quagmire of irreversible socio political crisis. A small country with a population of about 1million, governed by King Mswati 111 has risen to fame for all the wrong reasons.

Life expectancy has dropped to 31 years! Over 26.1% of the total population is HIV positive; 30% of all children are orphaned due to living with a critically ill parent; only 6% of the national budget is allocated to health, and a mere 2.4% to social services and 69% of the population live below E7.00 ($1) a day. The king holds all Swazi nation land in trust for Swazi’s living in the rural areas – which means that they have no title to it.

Currently the Swazi government is experiencing budgetary challenges in that the continued following the decline in South African Customs Union (SACU) that accounted for over 56% of national revenue it has gone ‘cap-in-hand’ begging for loans from the UK, the EU and now the IMF and World Bank recurrent expenditure.

We know what these institutions are likely to say to a country whose leadership spends extravagantly on royal trips to Europe; E130milion on royal emoluments; the continued construction of the Sikhuphe International Airport which is a white elephant; and further construction of new palaces.

On the political ground the Swaziland tinkhundla system is not doing better too. Opposition to the regime has been met with intolerance and repression where citizens are harassed, raided, tortured and killed. The respect for Human Rights, the Rule of Law is never there. PUDEMO and SWAYOCO members are arrested and tortured day in and day out.

Lately, on the 7th and 8th September, 2010 many members of PUDEMO, including one Sotobe Sibiya was beaten during the march in Manzini. On Monday the 6th September, a meeting of activists was raided by a joint security forces, disbanded and some members who came from outside Swaziland were declared prohibited immigrants and dumped at the border posts.

These were people showing solidarity to the Swazi people engaged in peaceful demands for just society and opposed the system had to be ‘throttled’ by the government and security forces. This was followed by the enactment of the Suppression of Terrorism Act which proscribed the Peoples United Democratic Movement PUDEMO and all her structures.

We call on the International Community, including the SADC, AU, The Commonwealth of Nations, the United States of America and the European Union to give attention to the crisis in our country. Swaziland must not be allowed to be an island of dictatorship in a sea of democracies. Like any other country, it must not be allowed to renege on signed conventions, but must pay the price should they do so. Let not the innocent Swazi people suffer, but those in authority must.

We assure those who are watching and those in solidarity with our struggle that nothing will hold us from continuing fighting until the last piece of our land is free from the dominating elite. We call on all our countrymen and women, our young brothers and sisters to turn every school, church, house and factory into organs of struggle. We call on the progressive forces to unite and walk this common route to our objective and see the regime as a common enemy, and not allow it to sow seeds of division among us.

Contact: Mr. Mario Masuku (PUDEMO President)

Cell: 0791931651 (SA) or 00268 7608 3338 (Swaziland)

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