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2011. a Year in the Struggle for Freedom in Swaziland - Rooney

2011. a Year in the Struggle for Freedom in Swaziland - Rooney

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Published by Swazi Media
The end of the beginning? 2011, a year in the struggle for freedom in Swaziland, by Richard Rooney of Swazi Media Commentary

Tuesday April 12 2011 may yet go down in history as a watershed in the struggle for freedom in Swaziland. To borrow the words of Winston Churchill, it might not have been the day that the struggle for freedom in Swaziland ended in victory for the people. It might not even have been the beginning of the end. But it was, perhaps, the end of the beginning. After this day things would never be quite the same again in Swaziland.

It was on April 12 that Swaziland saw its biggest demonstration in living memory. It was to be the start of three days of protests across the tiny kingdom in southern Africa. Ordinary Swazis were fed up with the regime of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. They’d had enough of being denied their basic human and civil rights and were ready to fight for their freedom. They wanted an end to the corruption of the King and the governments he appoints. They wanted the freedom to meet, to demonstrate, to form political parties and to choose their own government – all things denied to them by the King.

A group of people, unaffiliated with any of the existing political parties or lobby groups, created a Facebook site and called it the April 12 Swazi Uprising. April 12 was the day in 1973 that King Sobhuza II, the father of the present King, tore up the country’s constitution and began to rule by decree. Despite the signing into law of a new constitution in 2006, people in the kingdom still live under the yoke of that decree.

The April 12 group caught attention in Swaziland and across the globe. It called for an uprising to start on April 12 2011 and soon prodemocracy activists, trade unionists, journalists and progressives from all over the world were watching the kingdom.

Swaziland had seen many street protests before, but this one was to be different. This was meant to be the beginning of the end.

This one was also to be the first to be played out on the Internet. Members of the April 12 group claimed they were a real on-the-ground organisation with at least three full time organisers. Perhaps they were, but mostly their battle was fought in cyberspace using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and blogsites.

The Uprising was brutally put down by police, but the struggle for democracy in Swaziland continues. This book looks at what happened in 2011. It is compiled from the pages of Swazi Media Commentary, the blog that contains information and comment on the fight for human rights in Swaziland.

As well as the events of April 12, the book covers in much detail the massive meltdown of the Swazi economy, caused by the governments handpicked over the years by King Mswati; and also caused in no small part by the greed and corruption of the King himself and his close supporters.

The economic meltdown has sensitised many people in Swaziland to the need for root and branch political reform in the kingdom.

This book starts with a section on the April 12 Uprising which is followed by the account of the economy. There then follows separate chapters looking at events in each month of 2011. These events include many protests, including the Global Week of Action held in September. They also highlight the numerous violations of rights suffered by the poor, by children, by women and by sexual minorities, among others, in the kingdom.
The end of the beginning? 2011, a year in the struggle for freedom in Swaziland, by Richard Rooney of Swazi Media Commentary

Tuesday April 12 2011 may yet go down in history as a watershed in the struggle for freedom in Swaziland. To borrow the words of Winston Churchill, it might not have been the day that the struggle for freedom in Swaziland ended in victory for the people. It might not even have been the beginning of the end. But it was, perhaps, the end of the beginning. After this day things would never be quite the same again in Swaziland.

It was on April 12 that Swaziland saw its biggest demonstration in living memory. It was to be the start of three days of protests across the tiny kingdom in southern Africa. Ordinary Swazis were fed up with the regime of King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. They’d had enough of being denied their basic human and civil rights and were ready to fight for their freedom. They wanted an end to the corruption of the King and the governments he appoints. They wanted the freedom to meet, to demonstrate, to form political parties and to choose their own government – all things denied to them by the King.

A group of people, unaffiliated with any of the existing political parties or lobby groups, created a Facebook site and called it the April 12 Swazi Uprising. April 12 was the day in 1973 that King Sobhuza II, the father of the present King, tore up the country’s constitution and began to rule by decree. Despite the signing into law of a new constitution in 2006, people in the kingdom still live under the yoke of that decree.

The April 12 group caught attention in Swaziland and across the globe. It called for an uprising to start on April 12 2011 and soon prodemocracy activists, trade unionists, journalists and progressives from all over the world were watching the kingdom.

Swaziland had seen many street protests before, but this one was to be different. This was meant to be the beginning of the end.

This one was also to be the first to be played out on the Internet. Members of the April 12 group claimed they were a real on-the-ground organisation with at least three full time organisers. Perhaps they were, but mostly their battle was fought in cyberspace using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and blogsites.

The Uprising was brutally put down by police, but the struggle for democracy in Swaziland continues. This book looks at what happened in 2011. It is compiled from the pages of Swazi Media Commentary, the blog that contains information and comment on the fight for human rights in Swaziland.

As well as the events of April 12, the book covers in much detail the massive meltdown of the Swazi economy, caused by the governments handpicked over the years by King Mswati; and also caused in no small part by the greed and corruption of the King himself and his close supporters.

The economic meltdown has sensitised many people in Swaziland to the need for root and branch political reform in the kingdom.

This book starts with a section on the April 12 Uprising which is followed by the account of the economy. There then follows separate chapters looking at events in each month of 2011. These events include many protests, including the Global Week of Action held in September. They also highlight the numerous violations of rights suffered by the poor, by children, by women and by sexual minorities, among others, in the kingdom.

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Published by: Swazi Media on Dec 31, 2011
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01/01/2012

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19 March 2011

John Kunene,182

the top civil servant at the Ministry of Defence, has been fired because of the

food crisis that has hit the Swazi Army.

Barnabas Dlamini, Prime Minister of Swaziland, called a press conference at 10.20pm last
night (18 March 2011) to announce a reshuffle of principle secretaries. The PSs were made to
play a game of musical chairs and when the music stopped Kunene was the only one left
standing without a chair. He will be replaced by Andreas Mathabela, from the Tikhundla
Administration and Development.

The Canadian Press news agency reports today that Kunene was sacked because of the food
crisis that has hit the Umbutfu Swaziland Defence Force (aka the army).

Food is in such short supply that soldiers are reportedly going from homestead to homestead
in Swaziland begging for food. Shortages have occurred because the army has changed the
way it procures food and supplies.

It is not clear whether at the heart of the problem is the government’s inability to pay its bills

because of the present economic meltdown or the corruption that riddles the army.

Earlier in the day King Mswati III said the army’s ‘top brass’ would be ‘taken to task’ for the
shortage. The King made the comment at an army passing-out ceremony.

According to a report in the Swazi News, an independent newspaper in the kingdom, he was

‘livid’ that he had not been told about the shortage. He had heard about it from the media, he

said.

‘This shall be corrected immediately,’ he reportedly said to loud cheers from the soldiers.

And, by the end of the day Kunene was out on his ear.

It is not clear whether the king’s main concern was that he hadn’t been told, or that his
soldiers were having to beg for food from ordinary Swazi people – six in ten live in abject
poverty and three in ten are officially classed as under nourished.183

The sacking also came on the day that thousands of people marched on the office of the
Prime Minister to demand that the government resign.184

182

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/02/swaziland-arms-deal-is-still-on.html

183

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/02/government-misleads-on-poverty.html

184

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/03/swaziland-pm-cabinet-must-go.html

The End of the Beginning? 2011, a year in the struggle for freedom in Swaziland

130

Yesterday’s protest was the first of a number planned over the coming weeks and months. An
‘uprising’ coordinated through a Facebook site is planned for 12 April.

The King and the government he handpicked have been showing signs in recent weeks that
they are worried that Swazi people have been encouraged by the uprisings in the Middle East
and North Africa and are prepared to fight for their own democratic rights.185

Obviously, if an uprising starts in Swaziland, King Mswati will want the army on his side. If
he has allowed them to go hungry, they will think twice about whether he is worth
supporting.

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