Help us end Africa’s last absolute monarchy
June 29, 2012 2 Comments
“The current situation in Swaziland now is that over the past 12-15 years, it has become worse than under colonialism. We have for a long time being fighting a very lone struggle as the international media have ignored our struggle and reported only stories about the king or about what a beautiful country Swaziland is,” Skhumbuzo Phakathi told Danish MP’s last week [20. June].
“With more support for our cause, nationally and internationally, we will be able to put pressure on the Swazi regime. But we need outside help as I am yet to see a struggle won only by the people and not with help from outside.”
Skhumbuzo Phakathi is the Secretary General of the largest illegal party in Swaziland, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), and was speaking during two meetings with representatives of two Danish parties, the Red-Green Alliance and the Social Democrats.
One of the representatives, foreign policy spokesman and MP Christian Juhl from the Red Green Alliance, told Africa Contact that he believed that “meeting Skhumbuzo was important, and it is also important that Denmark support PUDEMO and democratisation initiatives in Swaziland.”
Phakathi was in Denmark as part of a tour of the Nordic countries, amongst other things to try and gain support for PUDEMO’s enduring attempts to bring democracy and social and economic reform to Swaziland, a small absolute monarchy bordering South Africa where the majority of the population survive on less than a dollar a day while the royal family live in luxury, where all political parties are illegal and where PUDEMO and others who call for democratic reform are branded terrorists, detained and brutalised.
“We are not demanding mountains,” Phakathi told the Danish politicians. “We are saying that the king must unban parties, that the media must be released, that the state must stop brutalising people, that the monarchy must not be an executive monarchy as it is now.”
And the situation is becoming increasingly desperate and explosive, he insisted. “Many people die of hunger in Swaziland. More than 250.000 live on food aid out of a population of 1.2 million. The educational and health systems have collapsed. And as a result of the lawlessness, police just kill and detain pro-democracy activists. People are getting restless and we don’t know for how long we are able to contain their anger.”
Even though the Swazi regime has no respect for human rights or the rule of law, the international community has chosen to remain silent about its many transgressions against its own population even though they have spoken out against the lack of democracy and human rights in other countries, said Skhumbuzo Phakathi.
The much-publicised democratic irregularities in Zimbabwe are a point in case, he says. “Yes people in Zimbabwe are suffering, but they at least have one thing that we don’t have in Swaziland – basic democratic structures.”
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