Come rain, snow, sleet or thunder we will be outside the Swazi embassy protesting about democracy and respect for human rights in Swaziland. It rained just as we were setting up but lucky we have a cloth banner and a few placards that are covered in plastic. As usual news from back home is horrific and depressing, to the locals who stopped by to ask about the situation back home and sign our petitions its shocking. Barnabas Dlamini,the illegally-appointedPrime Minister of Swaziland, is victimizing the senate leader who said he and the Swazi government are answerable to parliament. We told the passing public that these are the few stories that they hear, the more horrific ones are swept under the carpet by the propaganda swazi press who are a mouth pieces of Dictator regime by the King because he closes the paper if they report against him. We were happy to hear that the launch of the Swaziland democracy was a success and we were glad that the Swazi vigil UK received words of encouragement from their report. On Friday the 5th of march we will join our friends the zimvigil to protest our side the South African embassy. We will be there between 1130 am to 1230pm to meet Jacob Zuma on his visit here in the UK. Please check www.zimvigil.co.uk. We will present to Mr Zuma our demands for democracy and respect for human rights in Swaziland we will also encourage Mr Zuma to speak out on Swaziland as he seems to know what is happening in the Kingdom. We are also pleased to let our supports know that so far we have more than 2000 signatures on our petitions, which is very encouraging. Thanks once again to our stewards Godfrey Madzunga, Kelvin Kamupila, Thobile Gwebu, Francesca Toft and many more who stood by us in the rain. The Swazi embassy staff were also surprised to see us protesting in the rain. Once again one of our supporters reminded them that will be here until Swaziland is free. Our singing and drumming once again attracted a group of brownies who stopped by and their teachers signed our petitions, but most of these children were so sad to hear that children in Swaziland are suffering with hunger and starvation and most of them can not afford to go to school at all, while Dictator Mswatii III is squandering money on his so many wives. What a sham said one teacher who signed our petition. Hopefully the weather will be on our side next weekend. Just as we were writing this diary we received yet some more depressing news
It was a very warm day considering it is winter; people at the vigil were still fuming at what is going on back home. Mswati’s oppressive machinery was at the full throttle for the past month thwarting peaceful demonstrations, abducting and arresting student leaders. On a positive note the official launch of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign in Johannesburg kept our spirits so high with our coordinator Thobile Gwebu telling the crowd that IT IS THE LAST MILE TO DEMOCRACY IN SWAZILAND, she goes on to tell us that Swazis have suffered enough it is high time there is political freedom, democracy and respect for human rights in Swaziland. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, she chanted. The gathering and passing crowd clapped, whistled and chanted FREE SWAZILAND!!! One passerby who stopped to sign our petitions asked why the king had so many wives and we told her that he picks a virgin every year and the lady said ……it is not me then because I am not a virgin ! A lot of people were worried that the world is watching while Swaziland is dying, one supporter was very angry that the UN is not doing anything to stop the horrific abuses and oppression in Swaziland. We noticed that one of the embassy neighbors was moving out and we realized that now that we have exposed the obnoxious regime they did not want to be staying next to people who have no respect for human rights. It was good to see our friends from ACTSA who have been very supportive of the Swazi vigil since its launch and they are running a campaign on Swaziland crisis and are encouraging people to put pressure on the ambassador in the UK go to the link http://www.actsa.org/page-1223-Swaziland.html. Thanks once again to Mark Beacon and his team. The vigil ended at 1pm with the singing of NKOSI SIKELELA AFRICA! (GOD BLESS AFRICA!) Our coordinator Thobile Gwebu explained to the vigilantes that the singing of Swaziland land national anthem will undermine our cause as it is nothing but the praise of the Dictator Mswati III. A lot of people stopped by to take pictures of our colourful l banner that was hand made by our coordinator Thobile Gwebu which readsNO TO DICTATORSHIP IN SWAZILAND!
The vigil started at 10 am with a lot of discussions about the show of force by the brutal Swazi regime arresting and abducting student leaders who were trying to stage a peaceful demonstration. Furthermore, the savage attacks on unarmed and defenceless demonstrators, we hope the British government and South African government will say something on this issue. The Swaziland vigil is planning a joint demonstration with our friends zimvigil between the 3rd and 5th March to welcome the South African president Jacob Zuma here in London. A lot of passerby signed our ongoing petitions one to the common wealth that urge them to suspend Swaziland until there is respect for human rights and democracy, and another one to the British Government to stop supporting the dictatorship in Swaziland. We would like to express our gratitude to our Zimbabwean friends who supported us on Saturday Fungayi Mabhunu, Godfry Madzonge, Kevin Kamupila, Luka Phiri, Josephine Zhuga………. One our supporters from home had this to say “Dear brothers and sister of the Swaziland Vigil. We are all encouraged by your bravery. Your efforts will echoe the voices of other Swazis who have been strugling for democracy for the past 27 years. Keep up the good work. We are inspired.Embili Maswati!! Students actions in Swaziland has resulted in six education institutions being closed UNISWA, SCOT, William Pitcher, Ngwane, Nazarene teachers and Nazarene Nursing Colleges.We have been informed by activist back home that there has been an abduction of students in Swaziland on 10 February 2010. In response to student protests, the Swazi Police abducted Pius Vilakati, President of Students Representative Council at the University of Swaziland; Maxwell Dlamini, National Organizing Secretary, Swaziland National Union of Students; Sipho Simelane, SRC member at the University; and Thembela Ngcamphalala, Vice Chairperson of the Kwaluseni branch of SNUS and branch organising secretary of SNUS. According to the Swaziland National Union of Students, their whereabouts are not known, except for Maxwell Dlamini who we understand was dumped in Sidvokodvo, an area located on the outskirts of Manzini.Furthermore we have since been informed that one of the students who participated in planned student protest march has been charged with terrorism.Sicelo Vilane of Siteki has been charged with contravening section19 (1) (b) of the Terrorism Act in that he was found with a Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) membership card bearing his name.Vilane, a journalism student at Oxford College, was arrested after he was spotted taking pictures of police officers detaining UNISWA President Pius Vilakati at the Manzini city centre. Initially the issue was about why he took pictures but when they discovered that he was a member of SWAYOCO police then became more vicious and decided to charge him with terrorism.Our Swazilandvigil COORDINATOR Thobile Gwebu phoned the commissioner of police on Friday to enquire about the issue and challenged them to release the student leaders she was informed by the commissioner that they have been released, we are still waiting for confirmation from home. The following is a notice for the launch of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign that will be held in Johannesburg. Swaziland Democracy Campaign’s historic launch in Johannesburg The hour of democracy in Swaziland has struck! Sunday, the 21st February, will be a watershed moment in the struggle for democracy in Swaziland. On that day, the historic launch of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) will take place in Johannesburg. Progressive organisations from South Africa and Swaziland will combine in the Swaziland Democracy Campaign to accelerate global momentum for democracy in Swaziland. The launch will be preceded by a Strategy Development workshop where a comprehensive programme shall be developed to consolidate and advance the Campaign. At this time, thousands of people in Swaziland and students in particular, have demonstrated their courage and determination and their willingness to sacrifice in the fight for their freedom. By taking action, they have opened the eyes of the world to the royal elite’s scourge of legalised terror. In the name of culture, and divine right, the royal elite have ruthlessly protected their privileged position while the vast majority of the population live in complete impoverishment. The royal elite have used the tinkhundla system to spy upon and oppress popular and democratic activists throughout society. However, in schools, workplaces, institutions of higher learning and communities, there is resistance, and it is growing, despite an escalation of repression and use of the notorious Suppression of Terrorism Act. Following years of joint activities, marches and border blockades, the progressive movement in Swaziland and their South African counterparts have decided to take their co-operation to new heights, from the Joint Swaziland Action Campaign (JSAC), which was created on the 12th August, emerges the Swaziland Democracy Campaign. The SDC is comprised of organisations involved in the struggle for Swazi democracy in Swaziland and in South Africa. The campaign recognises and supports the democratic initiatives and efforts undertaken by trade unions, NGOs, church organisations, students and youth organisations, women and cultural forums, political movements and progressive forces in South Africa and globally to support the struggle in Swaziland. The Swaziland Democracy Campaign will popularise an initiative to intensify the call to cut links with the brutal regime and mobilise practical support for the democratic movement in Swaziland. As the crisis in Swaziland continues to its peak, let all of us vow to step up pressure on the ruling Swazi regime, and those who protect it. The following documents have been drafted for consideration and final adoption at the launch;
* Draft Public Declaration of the Campaign * Draft Concept founding document * Draft Programme of Action
A final list of Speakers shall be made public soonest. Meanwhile, these organisations from Swaziland have confirmed their Speakers as follows;
* Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) – Barnes Dlamini, Chairperson * People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) – Mario Masuku, President * Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) – Alvit Dlamini, President * Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) – Mduduzi Gina, Secretary General * Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL) – Vincent Ncongwane, Secretary General * National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) – Thulani Maseko, Chairperson * Council of Swaziland Churches CSC) – to chair proceedings on Sunday