Vigil Diary Entries
We will not be silent – Speaking is not criminal!
As a Swazi living in the UK I am saddened and even embarrassed by what is happening in my country of birth. Swaziland is the last absolute monarchy, King Mswati III rules with an iron hand, political parties remained banned, criticizing the government is illegal. And courts suppress free speech, in February this year 2014 Lawyer Thulani Maseko and journalist Bheki Makhubu published articles on the king’s control of courts they were charged with contempt of court and thrown into jail. Reading everyday about fellow Swazis and comrades jailed by the draconian Swazi regime for their calls for freedom of expression and association in Swaziland cannot be ignored. These prisoners of conscience have been incarcerated for demanding full democratization of our beloved country.
In Swaziland, dissenting and opposing voices are silenced, harassed and thrown into jail. The system of government is based on one man with all political authority, which is sanctioned by the constitution; this is the supreme law of the land. Section 79 of the 2005 Constitution prohibits the lawful existence and recognition of political parties, which effectively undermines democracy and democratic governance. This management is not only contrary to developments in Africa post-1990, but it is absolutely at variance with international human rights standards and international laws.
The lack of freedom of assembly and speech is ruining the country and I refuse to sit and do nothing about it, I am glad that living in the UK and being a member of Swazi Vigil UK has given us the platform to express our opinions about what is happening in Swaziland without the fear of persecution. The majority of Swazis are tapped by fear of losing their jobs and persecution if they identify with the struggle but we have the opportunity to freely expose the corruption in Swaziland by Mswati III and his regime.
Democracy in SD is not taken seriously by the government and anyone who opposes the present government is dealt with heavily. The reaction of the Prime Minister to the Unionists who went to the US (Washington) during the US-African Leaders Summit hosted by President Barack Obama, the Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini used very harsh words and said they will be ‘strangled.’ One then wonders is there something the world doesn’t have to know about Swaziland kutsi sekungaze kukhanywe bantfu?
If you are a Political activist in Swaziland you are seen as a ‘troublemaker’ you end up being evicted, lose scholarship if at the University, lose your job, or denied jobs, you are made to pay the price heavily in many ways. We cannot remain silent about this!
The time for action and to fight evil is now and it all begins with individuals committing to overcoming the fear barrier. Through a platform like Swazi Vigil UK I have the opportunity actively campaign against corruption and fight for freedom.
Its appalling to see how the country is treating PUDEMO’s Mario Masuku by denying him access to legal representation and medical attention by the officials of Mswati’s Correctional Services. The complete disregard of the of the law by officials claiming that they are following orders seems to be a growing trend especially where political activists are concerned. This is a gross abuse of human rights in Swaziland and cannot be ignored anymore. I am saddened and outraged by the manner in which Masuku who has been leading the effort to fight for the freedom of the Swazi people by speaking the truth to power has been victimised by the authorities.
The communities do not want to be seen to be supportive of activists, they live in constant fear. People say Swazis are quiet but the truth is Swazis are scared and fearful of the regime. A few months ago in the community of KaLuhleko where there is a chieftaincy dispute, old people in their 70s were taken into interrogation by the police and strangled, harassed and tortured. It is sad to see the highest form of cruelty used on old and helpless citizens. The police are not scared to use any tools of intimidation to silence anyone who speaks out for democracy. Swaziland does not respect Human rights and there is absolutely no freedom of speech at all. You are only free to speak if what you speak pleases the king. If not, you will be quickly silenced by the Suppression of Terrorism Act 2008, Public Order Act 1963, Sedition and Subversive Activities Act 1938.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !!!! If there is any need for collective action, that time is now! We cannot sit around and watch the country go up in flames. We need to show our support in a practical way. And it begins with individual Swazis all over the world committing to overcoming the fear barrier. Creating awareness wherever we are. We have to fight the evil today. We cannot therefore remain silent! Viva Swazi Vigil UK Viva!!!
NOMPUMELELO CHRISTABEL MAGAGULA
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For over four decades these had not help anyone but has it has continued to make ordinary Swazi people's lives a misery. Nothing will change is Swazi politics until the TINKHUDLA system changes and they allow political parties.The change reflects a choice of faces rather than a choice of ideas.The MPs will not be able to bring any change unless the system changes.Under the TINKHUDLA electoral system political parties are not allowed to take part in elections,this prohibition has been a source of a long standing tension between the state and opposition movement who say the 1973 is undemocratic and repressive.
The country's opposition group such as SWAYOCO and PUDEMO boycott election calling them undemocratic selection designed to shore up the king's power rather than reflect the electorate wishes.Under the system the king chooses the prime minister and appoints ten MPs to the Parliament while voters elect 55 MPs although potential candidates need to be approved by the king.The king is an embarrassment and selfish man who does not represent a vast majority of the Swazi people only cares about protecting his interest.All these things he is doing one day people's prayers will be answered and his government will have to answered some serious question and the lives of the Swazi people will change for the best.
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KING MSWATI BAN MANDELA PRAYERS
About 30 armed police raided the Lutheran Church in Manzini, Swaziland’s main business city, and stopped people attending a prayer service to mark the life of Mandela. We at the Swazi Vigil were shocked by the reaction of Mswati towards one of Africas Greatest Son Madiba., Such behaviour fired us to go and share our condolences with the South Africans outside the South Africa House in London. Led by the baritone voice of Sandile Ndlangamadla we sang “..asimbonanga ..u .. Mandela thina lapha khona....”
Late on Wandile Ndlangamandla, the Swazi Vigil spokesperson had this to say ‘We are alarmed at this wanton disregard for human rights and failure to honour the memory of Nelson Mandela. We condemn this in the most strongest of terms. It is an insult to what Nelson Mandela stood for and clearly shows that the Swazi regime cannot hide its disgust for anything resembling democracy.
Police storm cinema that revealed Swaziland King’s riches
Cinema-goers have been forced out of a theatre to stop them finding out how King Mswati III can afford private jets and palaces shaped “like cakes from outer space”. Brandishing batons and teargas, riot police in Swaziland threatened to beat anyone who was not out in five minutes, prompting a stampede for the door. They then interrogated the owner of the building for three hours and took away his licence before closing down the cinema in Manzini.
Aids orphans starve as African king blows £300m
Care for 100,000 of Swaziland’s most vulnerable children is close to collapse while the monarch splashes out on an unused international airport
The king of Swaziland whose impoverished country is on the brink of bankruptcy has spent £300m on a lavish international airport condemned as a “folly” . A financial crisis coupled with the huge drain on his exchequer caused by the airport has forced King Mswati III, one of the world’s last absolute monarchs, to make savage cuts in spending on schools and orphans.
Last week his government failed to pay more than £6.3m in grants promised to children orphaned by Aids. Most schools have been shut because of a lack of funds. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that the crisis has reached a “critical stage” and that orphan care is on the brink of collapse.
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SHAM PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
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The Swaziland Vigil with the help of the Zimbabwe Vigil had a busy week protesting against King Mswati’s visit to the UK for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. We were disappointed that the Queen should invite Africa’s last absolute monarch to what we would regard otherwise as a joyful celebration.
The protests against Mswati culminated after the regular Zimbabwe Vigil today when we processed from the Zimbabwe Embassy to the Savoy Hotel about 200 yards down the Strand to greet Mswati’s guests as they arrived for a dinner he was hosting. About 30 of us gathered with our drums and posters (‘King Mswati buys £30m plane while his people eat cow dung’, ‘Mswati and his 30 strong entourage stay in £400 a night Savoy Hotel while his people starve’, ‘End human rights abuses in Swaziland’, ‘Mswati must go NOW!’ and ‘Democracy now for Swaziland’). As Mswati’s guests went in we heckled them with cries of ‘Shame on you, Shame on you’. Protesters also shouted ‘women abuser’ and ‘save the young girls of Swaziland’. We were not surprised by the news from South Africa that one of the king’s 13 wives has spent the past month in the Presidential Suite of the Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg costing $2,000 a night (see: http://africajournalismtheworld.com/tag/swazi-queen-runs-up-huge-hotel-bill/).
It was a long day for the Swaziland Vigil which had gathered for their regular demonstration outside the Swaziland High Commission at 10 am today before presenting a petition to 10 Downing Street at 1 pm protesting about the human rights abuses in Swaziland. For the letter to the British Prime Minister that accompanied the petition (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/401-swazi-letter-to-the-british-prime-minister).
On Friday night activists from both the Swaziland and the Zimbabwe vigils joined the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell in a protest outside Buckingham Palace (see; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18099937 - Diamond Jubilee: World royals gather in UK for Queen).
King Mswati must have been left with little doubt about what the Swazis and Zimbabweans in the UK thought of him after we greeted him when he arrived at the Savoy Hotel on Wednesday (see report below). The efforts that we and others have made resulted in totally negative media coverage for him in newspapers, television and radio. As the Times reported ‘Swaziland’s King Mswati III is said to enjoy a lavish lifestyle while his subjects starve’.
The success of the demonstrations was largely down to the hard work of three members of the Swaziland Vigil: Flora Dlamini, Margaret Dlamini (who came to the protest on Wednesday straight after dialysis) and Jabulile Simelane and Zimbabwe Vigil management team member Fungayi Mabhunu.
Prptest against King Mswati of Swaziland – 16th May 2012
Protestors demonstrated outside a leading London hotel against the visit of King Mswati III of Swaziland – Africa’s last absolute ruler – who is in the UK to attend a diamond jubilee banquet for the world’s monarchs hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle on Friday 18th May.
The protest was organised by the Swaziland Vigil which stages regular demonstrations outside the Swaziland High Commission in London in protest at the king’s autocratic rule. They were supported by the Zimbabwe Vigil which protests against Mugabe and by Action for Southern Africa (the successor organisation to the Anti-Apartheid Movement) along with members of British trade unions.
Amid drumming, singing and chants of ‘Mswati must go’ the demonstrators outside the Savoy hotel in the Strand carried banners reading: ‘King Mswati buys £30m plane while his people eat cow dung’, ‘Mswati and his 30 strong entourage stay in £400 a night Savoy Hotel while his people starve’, ‘End human rights abuses in Swaziland’, and ‘Democracy now for Swaziland’.
A spokesperson for the Swaziland Vigil Flora Dlamini said the Swazi people were demanding democracy and an end to the feudal regime under which no political parties were allowed and freedom of expression was curtailed.
‘We have one of the richest kings in the world and yet we live in poverty. People are starving but he is here with more than 30 people in one of the most expensive hotels in London.
King Mswati (44) who has married 13 women was said, by two young women who came out of the Savoy, to be flirting with them asking about the best night clubs and shopping in the area.
A BBC photographer passed by and took photos. He has posted this on twitter: ‘What the King of Swaziland might see if he looks out of his window at the Savoy Hotel in London’ (#royal http://pic.twitter.com/bNEcIcm6). He has also posted a sound bite on the following link: http://audioboo.fm/boos/804353-demo-against-swaziland-s-king-mswati-iii-outside-savoy.
Thanks to Fungayi Mabhunu, Flora Dlamini, Margaret Dlamini, Mary Muteyerwa, Georgina Makaza, Bernard Hukwa, Ellen Gonyora, Kelvin Kamupira, Ndana Sanyanga, Edward Mutamiswa, Tim Rusike and Rose Benton who attended the protest.
Swazis in London protest at visit by playboy king Mswati III
Exiled Swazis living in the UK are to protest outside the Savoy Hotel in London on Wednesday 16th May when their king Mswati III is due to arrive to attend a diamond jubilee banquet for the world’s monarchs hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle on Friday 18th May.
The protest is organised by the Swaziland Vigil which stages regular demonstrations outside the Swaziland High Commission in London in protest at the king’s autocratic rule. He is Africa’s last absolute monarch and has, at the last count, 13 wives – although there are reports that some of them have fled. Forty-four year old Mswati III, educated at Sherborne public school in Dorset, is said by Forbes magazine to have a fortune of more than $100 million while his people live in poverty.
The co-ordinator of the Swazi Vigil Thobile Gwebu said people in Swaziland had been reduced to eating cow dung so that they could fill their bellies as required for the AIDs medicines provided by NGOs. She said the king had recently taken delivery of a DC-9 twin-engine aircraft claiming it was a gift from ‘anonymous sponsors’.
Ms Gwebu said she understood the king was travelling with the entourage of 30, staying at the Savoy where room prices start at £400 a night.
She said Swazis in the UK didn’t want to spoil the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and had written to her explaining that, as Queen of the Commonwealth, perhaps she could have a word with Mswati so that they could return home to a country where human rights were respected. For text of the letter see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/397-swaziland-vigil-letter-to-the-queen.
The Swaziland Vigil is also planning to picket the Swaziland High Commission on Saturday 19th May when king Mswati is due to hold a dinner.
Date: Wednesday 16th May from 12 noon – 3 pm
Venue: Savoy Hotel, Strand, London WC2R 0EU
19th May 2012
Dear Mr Cameron
On the occasion of the visit to the UK by King Mswati III, we respectfully submit the following petition: “Petition to the British Government: Exiled Swazis and supporters urge you to put pressure on absolute monarch King Mswati III to allow political freedom, freedom of the press, rule of law, respect for women and affordable AIDs drugs in Swaziland.”
The petition has been signed by people passing the Swaziland Vigil which holds regular demonstrations outside the Swaziland High Commission in London in protest at the human rights abuses in Swaziland.
For your information we have sent the following letter to the Queen, who invited Mswati to a lunch at Windsor Castle on 18th May to mark her Diamond Jubilee.
"Letter to the Queen - 9th May 2012
An Appeal to the Mother of Monarchs
We wish to record our disquiet at the visit to the UK by our King Mswati III on the occasion of your Jubilee. We are a group of Swazis driven into exile because of the arbitrary behaviour of King Mswati, the last absolute ruler in Africa. He lives like a medieval monarch while his people suffer. He now has his own £30 million aircraft while some women with HIV are reduced to eating cow dung because they have to have something in their stomachs for the medicine they must take. King Mswati has banned all political activities so we are left without a voice at home. We stage a regular protest outside the Swaziland High Commission just down the road from Buckingham Palace.
We realise that your hands are tied by protocol and wish to assure you that the protests we plan against King Mswati during his visit to London do not indicate any disrespect to you. But we would humbly ask you, as the Mother of the Commonwealth, to have a word with King Mswati so that we can return home in freedom to a democratic country observing international human rights. We are sad his education in England seems to have made him think his people are slaves."
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