3 January 2014

Swaziland: 2013 - Year of Repression in Swaziland

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The revelations came as international organsations criticised the way police and security services are used by the ruling elite in Swaziland to undermine opposition to the regime headed by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch.

August

Swazi security forces monitored some of the candidates nominated to contest the Swaziland national election because they were members of a political party.

The Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) reported that some of its members, who were nominated earlier this month were being scrutinised by state security forces.

September

Musa Dube, deputy general secretary of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), was arrested and charged with sedition for possessing and distributing leaflets published by the CPS at Kakhoza in Manzini as part of a campaign to boycott the election being held this month in the kingdom.

People in Swaziland were prevented from freely discussing issues in the run up to the election, a report from polling observer, Election Network which operates under the Swazi-based Coordinating Assembly of Non-governmental Organisations (CANGO), said.

'Civil society meetings were crushed, including prayer meetings.' It added, 'With no enjoyment of the rights to access information and also exchange information, freedom to associate, freedom of movement and freedom of speech it has become difficult for citizens to canvass issues.'

Vincent Ncongwane, secretary general of the banned union federation TUCOSWA, was arrested at his office by at least 10 police officers to stop him taking part in a democracy march. Police took him to his home where he was put under house arrest.

The march was part of a week of campaigning in Swaziland and abroad to draw attention to the lack of democracy and human rights in the kingdom.

Swazi police, acting without a court order or warrant, arrested all members of an international panel of experts, including Jay Naidoo, former Minister of Communications for South Africa, who were due to meet to debate the role of trade unions in Swaziland.

They were expected to highlight the role and responsibility of trade unions and civil society in fighting against the violation of fundamental rights in Swaziland. Swaziland's police chief Isaac Magagula said the panel was trying to cause 'anarchy and instability' in the kingdom.

In another clampdown on free speech ahead of the election, a sugar cane farmer was charged with sedition for allegedly making unfavourable comments about King Mswati. Allen Nkululeko Mango, aged 48, of Manzini, was alleged to have made comments against the King near the offices of Vuvulane Town Board.

The charges said that Mango, 'wrongfully and unlawfully made comments which brought hatred or contempt against the King of Swaziland, King Mswati III so that he can be hated by his subjects at Vuvulane.'

October

None of the major office holders in King Mswati's new parliament in Swaziland was elected by the people. The Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, the President and Deputy President of Senate were all appointed by the King. In addition King Mswati appointed six members of his own family to the Senate and a further six to the House of Assembly.

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