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SDC calls for democratic reform in Swaziland

13th April 2010

By: Bradley Dubbelman


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The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) has reiterated its demands for democratic reform in the small Southern African country at a gathering in Johannesburg on Monday.



The seminar, which was held at Cosatu House, marked the anniversary of the banning of the constitution and of political parties by King Sobhuza in 1973, and intended to share insights and open up a discussion on the prospects for democratic change in Swaziland.



The seminar also hoped to garner support for the movement's planned march on September 6, which will coincide with the "so-called" Swaziland independence celebrations. The march hopes to raise global awareness to the cause of the SDC.


Addressing the seminar at Cosatu House, the Peoples United Democratic Movement founding member and prominent Swazi businessperson Mandla Hlatshwayo reiterated a call for the separation of politics and culture in Swaziland.


He said that the country needed an independent Parliament that would serve the Swazi people and "not the interests of the constitutional monarch".


Swaziland United Democratic Front general secretary Vincent Ncongwane echoed Hlatshwayo's call for democratic reform in the country.


He pointed to the high levels of corruption in the upper echelons of power and the extreme levels of poverty experienced by the Swazi people. He also pointed to the financial mismanagement that was rife within the government departments.


Ncongwane criticised the structure of the Swaziland Parliament calling it an extension of the monarch's power.


In his speech, he called for the need to intensify the struggle to liberate Swaziland, but said that the struggle movement had to be peaceful and a model for democracy.



Swaziland has been subjected to the longest state of emergency ever recorded, having been in place for 37 years.


Under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, political parties remain banned, while opposition parties and movements are proscribed, restricting democratic activity in the country.


On a social level, Swaziland has the highest HIV infection rate in the world and life expectancy has dropped from 65 years to 31 years in the last 13 years.


The high cost of education in the country means that it is inaccessible for many poor communities and forcing many learners to drop out. Further, women and children's rights are undermined.


Under these conditions the SDC, along with other civil society organisations, are attempting to raise awareness for the Swazi people, who according to the movement, have been politically and socially repressed for too long.




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