A new book covering the fight for democracy in Swaziland in 2012 is now available free-of-charge.
The Beginning of the End? is a compilation of newsletters published weekly by Swazi Media Commentary and Africa Contact.
In 2012, there was an event in Swaziland that demonstrated beyond doubt that the kingdom is not a democracy and that it is ruled over by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch.
In October, the House of Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence in the government by a three-fifths majority. According to the constitution the king was obliged (he had no discretion in the matter) to sack the government.
King Mswati did not do so. Instead, he put pressure on members of the House to re-run the vote and this time spare the government. Which they did.
This demonstrated that parliament had no power and was simply a rubber stamp for the king. Intelligent observers knew this already. Political parties are banned in Swaziland and people may only stand for election as individuals. Many of the MPs and senators are appointed by the king without benefit of election and the king chooses the Prime Minister and cabinet.
There is a parliamentary election due in Swaziland in 2013 (they are held every five years) and if previous votes are anything to go by people inside Swaziland and outside the kingdom would be likely to argue long and hard about whether the election was worth supporting; whether it had credibility; or whether it was a fig leaf hiding the reality of the king's dominance in his kingdom. Now we know.
The Beginning of the End? , which can be downloaded from scribd dot com to a laptop, computer, or any device that reads e-books, looks at the events of October and also contains an assortment of news, analysis and comment covering the campaign for freedom in Swaziland throughout 2012. These include the Global Action for Democracy held in September; campaigns for democracy spearheaded by trade unions and students and the continuing struggle for rights for women, children, gays and minority groups.
The Beginning of the End? also examines the state of the Swaziland economy and connects this to the extravagant spending of King Mswati III and his Royal household.
While seven in ten of his one million subjects live in abject poverty the king has 13 palaces - one for each of his wives - fleets of BMW and Mercedes Benz cars and a private jet aircraft. Meanwhile, Swaziland continues to have the highest rate of HIV infection in the world.
The newsletter is compiled by Swazi Media Commentary, one of the longest running blog or social media sites supporting the campaign for democracy in Swaziland.
It contains information and commentary about human rights in Swaziland. It has no physical base and is completely independent of any political faction and receives no income from any individual or organisation. People who contribute ideas or write for it do so as volunteers and no receive no payment.
Swazi Media Commentary has been compiling the Swaziland Newsletter (which had already been running for many years) on behalf of Africa Contact since September 2010.
Africa Contact is a solidarity movement with roots in the anti-Apartheid movement. It was founded in 1978 by a number of Danish political parties, trade unions and other organizations in order to unite the efforts against colonialism and suppression in Southern Africa. It is based in Copenhagen.