Saturday, December 13, 2008

Swazi opposition appeals to SADC

COMMENT - Oh, the 'moral hazard' of mediation.

Swazi opposition appeals to SADC
Written by Chibaula Silwamba, Mutuna Chanda and Fridah Zinyama
Saturday, December 13, 2008 3:59:53 AM

SWAZILAND's opposition political party, Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC), has appealed to the SADC and other international community organizations to urgently help democratize Swaziland before the political situation there gets out of hand.

Speaking in Johannesburg, South Africa where NNLC is lobbying the international community to intervene in the political situation in Swaziland, NNLC member Simangele Mmema said the situation in her country was terrible because the King Mswati had immense powers and that political parties were still banned.

"Our King appoints the Prime Minister, he appoints the cabinet, and all board chairpersons. Human rights violations are the order of the day in our country. The King himself even made a statement to the effect that in his life time there will be no political party in Swaziland. Right now, as I speak, all political parties still remain banned," Mmeme said.

She said Swaziland's current constitution was flawed and was not an all inclusive exercise.

Mmema said the oppressive environment in Swaziland was causing breakdown of law because people were now taking the law in their own hands.

"We have reached such a desperate situation in our country and people are now taking matters in their own hands," she said. "There have been spats of bomb attacks around the country as youths are trying to kill the King. Last week two youths were killed by their own bomb which they were trying to plant under the bridge where King Mswati was supposed to pass in five minutes' time. One of the people who died was a member of the SACP."

She, therefore, said after her interaction with the South Africa Communist Party (SACP), she was scared that she might be arrested upon return to Swaziland because the government suspected that the SACP was the one supplying bombs to people opposed to the government in that country.

"This is why I am saying I might be arrested when I go back because they will suspect that I am carrying bombs from the South Africa Communist Party," Mmeme said.

She said there was a break down in the rule of law. The courts rulings are being over looked.

She said political and civil society activists' homes were being raided on a daily basis and their families victimized by not being given scholarships and international passports.

She said the government had set up surveillance to monitor whatever the activists did where ever they [activists] went.

"There is also suppression of terrorism Act; where terrorism has not been clearly defined. It is specifically targeting those with dissenting views to such an extent that the president of the People's Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) has been arrested for uttering words at the funeral of those who were bombed to the effect that they died for a good cause," Mmema said.

Mmema said the president of PUDEMO refused to sign for a bail demanding that he wanted his cases to be disposed off quickly.

She said the rights of the president of PUDEMO were violated because the authorities were not allowing his colleagues and diplomats to visit him in prison.

She said the only people that were allowed to visit him were his wife, children, lawyer and doctor.

"We are unable to visit the president of PUDEMO, we are denied that right," Mmeme said. "Even the British ambassador who had travelled all the way from Pretoria, South Africa to visit him had been denied permission to visit him."

Mmema said political parties were challenging the some closes of the terrorism Act in the courts of law.

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