We had a passionate Vigil outside the Swaziland High Commission here in London. We were happy to hear that there is going to be a mass demonstration on 12/13 April in Mbabane against the excesses of King Mswati III. Most Swazi,s at the vigil feared there would be violence given the intolerance of the regime. The Vigil noted an article in the UK’s Sun newspaper that King Mswati has demanded a cow from every family as a 44th birthday present. Since the average daily income in Swaziland is only around $2 this is a ludicrous demand. The Swazi Vigil gives warning to Mr Mswati III that they will be waiting for him when he comes to London to pollute the Queen’s birthday celebrations in June.
We were pleased to receive a phone call from one of the champions of Swaziland Democracy campaigners, a true hero in our eyes one who has sacrificed a lot, Mphandlana Shongwe. Mphandlana applauded us for the Swazi vigil and encouraged us never to give up until there is democracy in Swaziland. One member of the management team Flora Dlamini gave us a detailed suffering life story of Mphandlana Shongwe. Flora told the vigil that, Mphandlana Shongwe who is the Deputy President of SWAYOGO was jailed in 1996 for false allegations against him. During a strike which was organized by SFTU (Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions) a Swazi flag fell down inside the Trade Fair in Manzini and he was the first suspect. Was taken and beaten up by police. Later discharged and banned from teaching. This was just to get him out of his profession as a teacher. He has been living a hard life in the hands of the police and army people. His movements are monitored all the time; he has no social life at all. He must not be seen in a company of more than 3 people.
We at the vigil so it fit to publicize this evil behavior by Mswati, what has happened to Mphandlana Shongwe is totally unacceptable and we want to warn those perpetrators that the world is watching and their actions will be brought to justice. We are encouraging all Swazis to compile a list of those police officers and soldiers who are committing those atrocities and they will be brought to justice. We want to also send this message to the police officers and the soldiers that if they beat torture or imprison the peaceful demonstrators on the 12th and 13th April, they will be brought to justice.
We are encouraging all Swazis to come out in their thousands and join the demonstrations on the 12th and 13th April, this is the only way that will force Mswati to allow democracy in Swaziland.
Thanks once again to Margret Simelani for coming early to set up the vigil, it should be noted that Margret is physically not well but she is prepared to make sacrifices for the freedom of the Swazi people. Thanks to Kelvin Kampira who hastily learned Italian to persuade the number of Italian tourist to sign our petitions. Thanks to Georgina Makaza, a Zimbabwean activist who came to our vigil to support us, she was moved by the suffering of the Swazi people that she promised to be coming to our vigil every Saturday. Last but not least Thanks to Francesca Toft, who brought an article in the Sun and thanks also to Fungayi Mabhunu for the tremendous support.
- Parent Category: About the Vigil
We had an exuberant vigil on Saturday 24th March outside the Swazi High Commission here in London, with a lot of tourists visiting Buckingham Palace stopping by and signing our petitions. One passerby had this say "Make sure when he attends the Queen's Golden Jubilee, he (Mswati) gets a hard time . . . he went on to say that we must show him that this is a democratic country people are allowed to demonstrate!!! At the vigil we totally agree with this supporter, this time we will make sure we will give him a hard time, we are going to dress him down, we will make sure the whole world knows about his evil deeds, DICTATORSHIP, the abuse of human rights, abuse of women, rape, torture, murder, imprisonment of political activities and lavish life stlye while 90% of the swazi people are starving.
What the Swazi people are clamouring for was summed up by a group of Swazis who attended our vigil, the group included Jabulile Simelane, whose father (Paulos Majaji Simelane) was Commissioner of Police in Swaziland and was accused of plotting to kill the king and thrown into jail. She said all his relatives were being penalized, as indeed was everyone in Swaziland where there was ‘grinding poverty, hunger, no jobs, no medicine in hospitals, let alone sheets for hospital beds’.
Jabulile said that the Swazi High Commission is London should be closed as it did nothing for Swazis except look after King Mswati’s children studying in the UK who were given £30,000 a month to spend while children at home had no books. She added that Swazis in the UK were to write to the Queen to protest at the invitation to King Mswati to her Jubilee celebrations in June. She said ‘I am sure that Her Majesty cannot know how monstrous Mswati is. Our people are starving but he has £16 billion in Qatar. He should go and stay there. Why is Mr Cameron not doing something about Mswati when he is acting against people like President Assad of Syria.'
Thanks to our founder member and coordinator Kelvin Kamupira, who brought the drum and his singing, Kelvin Kamupira is a human rights activist, who has campaigned for a long time against the obnoxious regime of Zimbabwe's Mugabe. It is Kelvin's ideal to see a free and democratic Southern Africa, in which all the peoples live in peace and in harmony, that is why he helped found the Swazi Vigil. His commitement to the cause in no doubt unquestionable, a true revolutionary indeed.
Special mention also goes to Flora Dlamini who was at the vigil early to help with the banners, Senele Msweli who helped in writting articles and publishing our website, Jabulile Simelani and Margret Dlamini who brought the banners and a new table. Last, but not least Francesca Toft, Fungayi Mabhunu and the Zimbabwe Vigil who helped with our publicty while our website was down.
Next Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 7th April from 10 am – 1 pm. Venue: Swazi High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB. Nearest stations: St James’s Park and Victoria.
- Parent Category: News
The vigil is gaining momentame every Surtuday as the weather is on our side, passerby are continueing to sign our petitions without fail. A report in the Times of Swaziland (Sunday, 8th May 2010) entitled ‘Swazi Protest in UK gains Momentum’ speaks of several protests outside the Swazi High Commission in London and outlines the petitions we are running. The article quotes Vigil co-ordinator Thobile Gwebu as saying that there is good support from the public who read and sign the petitions. She speaks of supporters’ anger at the quashing of a political activists’ event in Manzini and also says supporters are encouraged by the launch of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign in Johannesburg. She ends by saying that Swazis have suffered enough and it was high time there was political freedom, democracy and respect for human rights in Swaziland. ‘Let us run with endurance in the race that is set before us’.
In a separate article ‘…they should come back home – govt’ the Times quote Clifford Mamba, Principal Secretary of the Swaziland Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, saying the protesters should come back home where their issues would be raised. He said his government had an open door policy on such issues. He said the Vigil’s picketing and petitions were ineffective because the place to address these issues was in their own country.
Well our response to Mr Mamba is, if these issues are being addressed:
· Why is there still a state of emergency after 35 years?
· Why are political parties banned, activists imprisoned, and the judiciary, media and other bodies controlled by the monarch?
· Why are women suffering gross violation of their human rights?
· Why do seventy per cent of the population live on less than $1 a day?
· Why are more than 1 in 4 Swazis living with HIV / AIDS?
More bad news from home that demostrate the violetion of human rigts is without fail . Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has made it clear that he is in charge of the kingdom’s police force and will use it against democracy activists.
Dlamini, who has an international reputation as an enemy of freedom and democracy, was explaining why dozens of police invaded the funeral of democracy activist Sipho Jele two weeks ago. Officers tore up pictures of the deceased man and confiscated banners belonging to opposition group, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).
He said police would break up gatherings and make arrests even if no crime had been committed. The police just needed to believe that a crime might be committed.
Dlamini’s remarks at a gathering of the kingdom’s senior media people fly in the face of comments by Swaziland Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula that the police were a service to the people of Swaziland and would treat people as ‘clients’ and with respect.
Dlamini told the meeting that police suspected crimes would be committed at Jele’s funeral so they broke it up.
‘At Jele’s funeral, the police would not just sit back and wait for something to happen first before responding to the situation. But they had to do something about the information brought by the Intelligence Branch,’ the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reports him saying.
Dlamini said that at future funerals or other occasions if the Intelligence Branch happened to detect a security threat, police then they would attend to ‘ensure law and order’.
- Parent Category: News