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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Communist Party of Swaziland issues call for international solidarity with the democratic uprising

Image via twitter

In a statement released July 6, The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) is calling on "all communist and workers’ parties to be alert to and to express solidarity concerning the new situation in our country, as pro-democracy protests are now gathering pace, and as the autocratic regime of Mswati III is clamping down fiercely and bloodily on its opponents."

Swaziland, the last absolute monarchy in Africa, has seen a pro-democracy uprising over the last few days that is being met with increasingly harsh repression by the forces of King Mswati. At least 43 protestors have been killed in a vicious crackdown as the king appears to have "fled the country on Monday June 28, reportedly after ordering the army to crush the protests against monarchy. So far, close to a thousand people have been injured, a large number of them with gunshot wounds".

According to the CPS statement:

For some months, the CPS and its supporters have been running the Democracy Now campaign aimed at focusing demands for:
  1. The unbanning of political parties

  2. The safe return of exiles

  3. The lifting of all restrictions on freedom of assembly

  4. An end to press and media censorship

  5. The holding of free and fair elections.

Youth activity for democracy started in earnest recently with the drawing up of community petitions to lobby local feudal governance structures for democratic rights. These lobbying efforts soon turned to demonstrations and protests against the lack of democratic rights.

Opposition parties have been banned in the country since 1973.

In a separate statement the CPS also condemned the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) for its June 30 statement on the unrest which the CPS called "at best a lazy response, at worst one that is blind to the realities of the situation in Swaziland."

They state that:

SADC has no interest in the democratic aspirations of the people of Swaziland, now the subject of protests by our youth in particular.
SADC has no interest in condemning the violations of human rights in Swaziland. It is perfectly content to see these violations continue.
SADC pays the most despicable lip-service to the need for democracy in Swaziland, lauding the monarchic regime for any minuscule concession.
SADC seems to think that the terrible poverty and oppression our people live under can be categorised as “grievances”, which need to be “channelled through the appropriate national structures”.
The CPS asks: who has written this rubbish? Perhaps Mswati himself drafts SADC statements on the situation in out country. The statement does not even once mention the word ‘democracy’!

In their call for international solidarity the CPS says:

We urge you to be in touch with us about developing solidarity activities in this new phase in our struggle. In particular, there is a need to get news of what is happening in our country widely known, to pressure the authorities in your respective countries to condemn the Mswati regime, to lobby the countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) to take robust positions on the situation in Swaziland, and to lobby South Africa (as the country that surrounds Swaziland territorially) to take more decisive positions against the lack of democracy and human rights in Swaziland.
The demand for democracy is, in our view, a first step in an ongoing struggle to set our country on a totally different development path towards meeting all the needs of our people and creating a socialist system.
For now, the struggle is to remove the dictatorship and to install a democratic dispensation under a new constitution that removes the monarchy and aristocracy from all areas of public life.

The South African Communist Party has released multiple statements in solidarity with the uprising and on July 4 its General Secretary, Dr Blade Nzimande noted that the SACP:

...stands in solidarity with the people of Swaziland struggling for democracy, human rights, and inclusive development under a people’s government. The violence unleashed by the absolute monarch through the military and other organs of the security apparatus against the people is outrageous. The SACP conveys its deepest condolences to the families of the protesters who were killed by the autocracy and sends wishes of speedy recovery to those who were been injured. The current protests began in May with the demand for an end to police violence. Mswati’s government responded to peaceful protesters with brute force, resulting in unprecedented number of killings by the Swaziland police and the military.
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