ANC calls for the release of political prisoners in Swaziland

In a statement from Chairperson of the African National Congress NEC Sub-Committee on International Relations Obed Bapela on May 7, the ANC called for the release of all political prisoners in Swaziland.

“The democratization of Swaziland must preoccupy the work of the African National Congress and all progressive forces as we call for the release of political prisoners, return of exiles and free political activities in that country.”

The ANC has previously called for the unbanning of political parties of Swaziland without any apparent success. In October 2012, ANC Chairperson  Baleka Mbete said that “we need to make sure Swaziland is liberated including the unbanning of political parties,” and in June 2012 President Zuma’s foreign policy advisor Lindiwe Zulu said that South Africa must press Swaziland to unban political parties.

South African President Jacob Zuma is married to Mswati’s niece and has therefore seemingly been unwilling to criticize Swaziland’s absolute monarch Mswati III publicly. But Zuma’s son, Edward Zuma, has been more critically outspoken about Swaziland.

“We have spearheaded democratic change all over Africa,” said Edward Zuma in an interview with the South African Sunday Tribune in 2011, “and yet our neighbour is the one in need of democratic change. People complain about Mugabe and yet he has a more legitimate country because there is a democratic process. Mugabe is far better than Mswati.”

South Africa is Swaziland’s most important trading partner. Over 90% of Swaziland’s imports and 60% of exports are with South Africa. The ANC itself have investments in Swaziland, including an antracit mine (high quality coal).

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