Sukker har en bitter eftersmag i Swaziland

En stor del af det lille enevældige kongedømme Swazilands indtjening kommer fra sukkerindustrien. Men mange af de fattige subsistensbønder i landets ”sukkerbælte” er blevet smidt væk fra deres jord, for at gøre plads til kongens storbrug.

I mange år har de fleste indbyggere i Swaziland været bange for at kritisere landets enevældige konge Mswati III offentligt. Dette kunne nemlig føre til alt fra tortur og fængselsstraf til at man fik frataget sin jord. Read more of this post

Swazier revser landets udemokratiske regering

Swaziland’s enevældige konge, og hans håndplukkede regering, har længe hævdet at indbyggerne i det lille afrikanske kongedømme er glade for landets udemokratiske system og styreform, og at regeringen forsøger at forbedre forholdene for landets mange fattige. Demokratibevægelsen og civilsamfundet, derimod, har altid hævdet det modsatte.

Men nu har meningsmålinger, foretaget af det uafhængige researchinstitut Afrobarometer, vist at borgerne i Swaziland er endog meget utilfredse med landets styreform, samt kongens og regeringens korrupte varetagelse af denne. Read more of this post

Mere handling og mindre slogans om vold mod kvinder

”Vi har råbt nok slogans, vi har haft nok møder og workshops om kapacitetsopbygning, og holdt marcher der fordømte vores samfunds dårligdomme”, skriver Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice (FSEJ) fra det lille konservative enevældige kongedømme Swaziland, i en pressemeddelelse i forbindelse med den verdensomspændende ”16 dage mod vold mod kvinder”-kampagne.

Kampagnen der er en international kampagne, der forsøger at rette fokus mod vold mod kvinder som et menneskerettighedsspørgsmål, startede den 25. november og slutter den 10. december. Tusinder af organisationer i over 150 lande deltager i kampagnen. Read more of this post

Swazi activist Stones Ginindza passes away

I was with great sorrow that Africa Contact has learnt that long-serving Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice (FSEJ) Secretary General to the Board, Stones Ginindza, has passed away.

Stones Ginindza was a dear and long-serving partner of Africa Contact as well as being a major capacity in Swaziland’s democratic movement, where she also served as Secretary General for the Swaziland National Association of Teachers and Chairperson of Swaziland Network Campaign for Education for All, amongst other things. Read more of this post

Swazi civil society warns diplomats of government clamp down

During meetings with diplomats from the embassies of several Western countries, held in Pretoria last week, representatives from Swaziland’s civil society warned that Swaziland’s government was actively trying to obstruct their work and shut them down.

Representatives from Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF), Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, Swaziland National Union of Students, Swaziland Ex-Mineworkers Association and Rural Women’s Assembly told diplomats from Denmark, England, Sweden, Japan, Russia, Norway, South Africa, the USA, SADC and the EU that they are deeply worried that the Swazi authorities are trying to make a case against FSEJ for supporting terrorism. Read more of this post

The democratic movement that cried wolf

Messages proclaiming the final days of king Mswati’s absolute monarchy in Swaziland, or the revolutionary uprising of thousands of Swazis, have been conveyed many times by individuals and organisations within Swaziland’s democratic movement.

Here are a few examples from the past year:

“The people of Swaziland are convinced that no muti or ritual will ever stop the tide of the revolution. The year 2012 will be the year that king Mswati’s dictatorship finally ends and a new democratic dispensation takes its place.” (Swaziland Solidarity Network statement, December 2011). Read more of this post

Economic justice and democracy are interdependent, says new Swazi campaign

“At the centre of poverty is the question of power,” Musa Andile Nsibande of the Swaziland Economic Justice Network (SEJUN) tells Africa Contact. “When we tell people to stand up for their rights, there is a possibility that the balance of power will shift towards the masses, paving way for a full democratisation process.”

To this end, the recently formed SEJUN launched a new campaign, Eradicate Poverty and Hunger, last Saturday [February 11.] in Lavumisa. The campaign takes a rights-based approach to economic justice in emphasizing the right to adequate food in a country where two-thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day – many on food aid from the UN, the need for agrarian reform in a country where the absolute monarch in effect controls all land, and the necessity of empowering ordinary people in order to achieve the campaign goals. Read more of this post

Biko’s legacy lives on in Swaziland’s civil society

Looking at South Africa today, it is clear that the approach of the ANC has not ensured socio-economic justice for the majority of South Africa’s blacks. Indeed, the rich-poor divide has broadened, and South Africa has become the most unequal country in the world.

The same can be said of many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. But as South Africa’s tiny neighbour, Swaziland, is finding out, the solution might lie in the past, so to speak, more than in a future that has failed the test of time. Read more of this post

Swazi police assault demonstrating bus operators

While yesterday’s reports of Swazi police killing two demonstrators in Swaziland’s industrial centre, Manzini, have not been confirmed, this does not make the crimes of the Swazi police any less severe.

One death as a result of the teargas used by the Swazi police has been confirmed, three people were hit by live ammunition fired by the police, and many others were injured, including the several police officers who had to be hospitalised.

“Confirmed information, which I got from the Secretary General of the Kombi Association Sabelo Dlamini, is that one child lost his life after inhaling a tear gas. Ten police officers were injured and a number of bus operators were injured as they were assaulted with sjamboks [large whips] and fired upon with live rounds and rubber bullets,” says Dumezweni Dlamini from the Swazi NGO Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice. Read more of this post

Swazi police assault pro-democracy protesters

After a comparatively restrained conduct during the pro-democracy demonstrations in Swaziland earlier in the week, Swazi police have started detaining, beating, and even shooting at demonstrators.

“Teargas and batons were allowed to do the talking by the forces as the enraged security forces unleashed their ugly side,” as local newspaper The Swazi Observer put it.

The demonstrators are demanding democracy and social reform in Swaziland, a small absolute monarchy where political parties are banned and two thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day. Swaziland is nominally a middle-income country. Read more of this post