29 May 2019

Swaziland: Njabulo Dlamini, Democracy Activist in Swaziland, Dies Aged 32

Njabulo Dlamini, one of the best known young democracy activists in Swaziland/eSwatini, has died aged 32.

Dlamini, who was known as Njefire, was the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) International Organiser since 2017. He was still a student at the University of Swaziland when he joined the party in 2011, the year it was founded. He was elected to the CPS Central Committee in 2013 and served as the party's National Organiser.

Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch and political parties are not allowed to take part in elections. The CPS along with other pro-democracy organisations are also banned from the kingdom under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Dlamini took a leading role in pro-democracy campaigns by students and in defence of the people against state-imposed evictions of residents in the Madonsa township. He also spearheaded a number of international solidarity campaigns and helped establish the Swaziland Kurdistan Solidarity Network. His last major international work was during the 2019 Israeli Apartheid Week where he helped organise activity in collaboration with the leadership of the Swaziland National Union of Students in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Dlamini worked as a teacher and was Secretary of the Big Bend Branch of the Swaziland National Association Of Teachers. He died in Mbabane Government Hospital on 23 May 2019. He had been diagnosed with fungal pneumonia a few weeks earlier.

At the time of his death he was awaiting trial together with Mcolisi Ngcamphalala, Deputy National Chairperson of the CPS, of the traffic offence of jaywalking. They had been arrested while they were on their way to a workers' planning meeting in Manzini.

In a statement, the CPS said, 'One thing that did not go down well with some of the former leaders in the union is that Comrade Njabulo tended to pursue issues which were viewed by many as too difficult and impossible to win; issues that had never been attempted before. It was his revolutionary tenacity, persuasion and steadfastness that helped grow the force necessary to convince the leadership that those issues be pursued.

'With his practical contribution towards the resolution of those issues, he became highly trusted and a great source of inspiration to many members of the union and beyond. The union gradually transformed and became more radical on its campaigns partly due to his untiring work. This is how he was able, working together with other young workers, to hold activities that were thought impossible before, including a fully-packed night vigil in August 2018 and a young workers' forum where workers' self-defence units were formed.'

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