Tuesday 31 March 2015, Pretoria
The political situation in Swaziland is continuing to deteriorate with increased suppression of pro-democracy activity. Recently, a meeting of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) was disrupted by police and turned violent. The abuse of the country’s justice system by the monarchy continues unabated as seen by the postponement of court hearings on the constitutionality of the country’s Suppression of Terrorism Act. The fate of Mario Masuku, the President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), and Youth Leader Maxwell Dlamini who have been incarcerated since May 2014, depends on the outcome of this hearing. Mario is diabetic and since his incarceration, his health condition has been worsening. Human Rights Lawyer Thulani Maseko and editor of The Nation magazine Bhekithemba Makhubu are still serving a two year prison term for a contempt of court conviction arising from publishing an article critical of Swaziland’s judiciary.
While ultimately, effecting democratic change lies on the shoulders of the Swazis, the history of democratic struggles world over tells us that South Africa, the region and the international community have a role to play. Thus far, the lukewarm regional and international responses to the situation in Swaziland raise questions about notions of “international solidarity” and the place for “value driven international relations” in our contemporary world.
Within this context, this dialogue sought to contribute to greater national, regional and international consensus on Swaziland by doing the following:
1. Highlighting the political situation in Swaziland, especially the deplorable treatment of pro-democracy activists,
2. Discussing ways in which actors in South Africa and the region can positively influence the political developments in Swaziland.