Swaziland: 'Loyalty Oath Muzzles Public Servants'

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This makes it illegal to be a member or a supporter of such groups. It is known that despite the penalties which include prison, a number of public servants are members or supporters of such groups, which include the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), the most well-known opposition party.

The crackdown on public servants, if the law is enacted, will be widely felt across the kingdom where there are thought to be more than 30,000 public servants whose salary takes up about 40 percent of the total Swazi national budget.

The existence of the draft law was revealed by the Observer Sunday, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati.

It reported, 'The oath will be renewed after every five years or when a public servant is appointed to a new office - whichever comes earlier.

'The allegiance will be pledged to the State and the People of the Kingdom of Swaziland.'

The newspaper added, 'As part of the oath, the government employees will undertake to carry out their duties and functions as well as conduct themselves in the interests of the people of Swaziland "and not seek instructions in regard to the performance of my duties from any person or authority whose interests conflict with those of Swaziland".'

The Observer added members of the government would not be subject to the new law.

'Cabinet, which is the executive branch of government, shall have the responsibility of promoting and ensuring that provisions of the Charter are enforced,' it reported.

In Swaziland, no members of the government are elected by the people, they are all appointed by King Mswati.

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