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Communist Party of Swaziland accuses regional bodies of ‘dancing to the tune of the dictator’

THE Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) accused regional bodies of “dancing to the tune of the dictator” today as they failed to condemn the brutal regime of King Mswati III.

It was responding to the recent visit by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on behalf of the South African Development Community (SADC).

The inter-governmental organisation issued a call for national dialogue to resolve the crisis in Swaziland, but the CPS branded the statement weak and said it failed to hold the king to account for his brutal crushing of the African nation’s burgeoning democracy movement.

“Why the pussy-footing around, the softly-softly deference to a person who, after all, is a bloody dictator?” the communists asked.

“The CPS has stressed to SADC on numerous occasions that the reasons for the clampdown on democracy and human rights activists stems from the lack of democratic rights, banning of political parties, imprisonment of political dissidents, media censorship and enforced immiseration that the people of Swaziland have to endure,” CPS general secretary Thokozane Kenneth Kunene said.

“Since June this year, over 100 protesters have been gunned down in cold blood by Mswati’s police and army. Over 700 people are in detention. Why does SADC fail even to mention, let alone condemn, any of this?”

Mr Ramaphosa met with “stakeholders” during his visit, as Swaziland government representatives made a commitment to dialogue through a traditional consultation known as a sibaya. 

But he did not meet with members of the student movement which has been at the forefront of the democracy protests, nor the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland. Those demanding the unbanning of political parties were similarly not granted a meeting with Mr Ramaphosa.

The communists called on the SADC to “actually do something about the murderous lack of human rights and democracy in our country instead of paying courtesy calls to Africa’s last autocratic monarch.”

“Such timid deference to the autocracy simply allows it to continue to get away with murder,” Mr Kunene said.

Swaziland has been gripped by mass youth-led protests calling for democratic reforms since the summer.

But security forces have responded with violence, attacking nurses, teachers and students as they demand change.

Last week nurses refused to treat injured police officers after they shot at those gathered for a protest called by the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union.

Thirty nurses were injured and a young bystander was killed, the union said, describing the security forces as “a brood of vipers.”

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