Thursday, March 19, 2009


Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN] PRESS STATEMENT
March 19, 2009


The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) notes the SADC Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation meeting to be presided over by the deceptive Swaziland King Mswati III in Mbabane. The meeting is set to discuss the political developments in Madagascar.

SSN considers this a major travesty, occasioning cynicism of the worst kind, in which one dictator will preside over an attempt to position SADC on the restoration of constitutional democracy in Madagascar.

King Mswati whose country does not enjoy the basic right to a popularly demanded democratic constitution is throwing eggs in SADC face, by hosting this meeting with Pudemo President Mario Masuku still incarcerated since 14 November 2009.

The current situation in Madagascar, forewarned by major social uprisings, results directly from Ravalomanana’s reform of the law on political parties and eventually brazing himself to militarily crush the peoples demonstrations. His actions bear striking similarity to authoritarian projects of Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Mswati in Swaziland. For his part Mswati has crushed all ideals of democracy and freedom, is starving his own people and is married to this doctrine of violations with impunity.

President Motlanthe made an important call to the political leaders in Madagascar, “to resolve their differences through negotiations aimed at ensuring that a solution is found, which is constitutional and will restore peace and stability on the island, as a matter of priority”.

This call should be directed against the hypocrisy of King Mswati, to release all political prisoners including Mario Masuku, to hold direct negotiations with PUDEMO and all political parties, to make way for multiparty democracy based on a new popular democratic constitution.

In reiterating our full support of the people of Madagascar and Swaziland and their right to confront the dictatorship by waging popular demands, we wish to call on SADC to use the opportunity to raise concerns to King Mswati and protest for the release of Mario Masuku.


For more information contact
Lucky Lukhele - SSN Spokesperson
Cell: 072 502 4141

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Amnesty International bids to mount pressure on SD

Amnesty bids to mount pressure on SD
Sunday Times March 15,2009

MBABANE—Two international organisations are preparing for a global campaign aimed at exerting pressure on Swaziland government’s Suppression of Terrorism Act 2008.
The envisaged outcome from the campaign, which is spearheaded by Amnesty International (AI) and the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association, is to compel government to make amendments to clauses deemed to be in violation of accepted human rights norms.

According to a confidential document that is currently circulating within Amnesty International’s internal structures, the goal of the proposed action is to increase protection of the rights of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly within the context of the government’s implementation of counter-terrorism measures.
The confidential document provides a framework for a campaign on the human rights concerns raised in the recent report prepared jointly by Amnesty International and the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association, titled ‘The Suppression of Terrorism Act undermines human rights in Swaziland’.

It was published on January 8, 2009. The report highlights the organisations’ concern that certain provisions in Swaziland’s Suppression of Terrorism Act No. 3 of 2008 (‘the Act’) contain impermissibly broad language in relation to the definition of ‘terrorist act’ and related offenses, which can be used to justify the violation of a wide range of human rights, including the rights of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

"The provisions of the Act provide ineffective legal remedies and safeguards to prevent these human rights violations and allows for up to seven days incommunicado detention without charge or trial," reads the AI communicate.

Some statements in the AI and International Bar Association joint report were rebuffed by the Prime Minister’s Office through a much criticised statement.
The proposed campaign, slated for next month, by AI and the International Bar Association seeks to encourage all AI sections and members to lobby and write action letters to the Canadian government, as well as the Swaziland government, and its representatives abroad.

"In mid-April, the AI team will issue an action circular update following their upcoming mission to Swaziland. This will include a membership action to provide solidarity to civil society organisations in Swaziland that are under threat, and potential casework," reads the document, which is in the possession of the Times SUNDAY.

The campaign is expected to run until July 31, 2009.

The following key dates have been identified:
1 April 2009: month of global focus on Swaziland as called for by Southern Africa trade unions
2 April 12,2009: Southern Africa Solidarity Conference in Swaziland organised by Southern African trade unions.
3 May 3, 2009: World Press Freedom Day
4 May 25, 2009: Africa Day

The campaign follows a much publicised outcry against the legislation, and subsequent arrests. The organ-isations that protested against it are Civil Society Organisations which include Lawyers for Human Rights, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) as well as the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and its regional counterparts. Their concerns were raised during a series of meetings held in Swaziland and in South Africa, a memorable one being a march staged in Sandton, South Africa during a meeting for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) heads of state. SFTU and the SUDF were well represented during the march, that also included members of South African political parties under the ruling tripartite alliance.

Campaign to focus on key trading allies
MBABANE—The Amnesty International (AI) and International Bar Association’s campaign against the government will focus on Swaziland’s key trading allies and trading blocs to compel government to amend the Suppression of Terrorism Act.

Approach 1:
According to one of the strategies listed in the confidential document, the first approach of the campaign involves increasing international pressure on the Government of Swaziland to repeal or at the very least amend the Act. The campaign is particularly concerned with seeking an amendment to the definition of a ‘terrorist act’ as the very broad definition here affects most of the other provisions of the law.

"Swaziland is economically dependent on several key countries and trading blocs or political unions. A breakdown of the key countries, unions etc that have some leverage over the government of Swaziland is provided," reads part of the document.
"The Swaziland government has specifically justified its passing of this Act on the basis that it fulfils its obligations internationally to counteract terrorism. This was a strong element in the government’s response to the report of AI and the International Bar Association and in its media comments.

"In the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001, the international community, through the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, pushed for all states to implement counter-terrorism measures. However, from at least 2005 there was a growing recognition that more attention needed to be given to member states’ other fundamental international legal obligations, particularly under international human rights law. In that year, Swaziland was a member of the UN Human Rights Commission when a resolution was adopted by consensus to appoint the UN Special Rapporteur on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, while Countering Terrorism," reads the document.

Amnesty emphasises the need to act swiftly as this international shift in emphasis is currently being strengthened by the actions taken by the new President of the USA, President Barack Obama, to undo some of the damage caused by George Bush’s administration’s assault on human rights.

It states that President Obama’s commitment to "reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals" offers the opportunity for governments around the world to act collectively to close a dark chapter of history and place human rights at the heart of their counter-terrorism strategies.

"This momentum is already being felt in Swaziland. For example, on the day of the inauguration of President Obama, the US ambassador to Swaziland stated that Swaziland should repeal its counter-terror law as such measures did not work in the US and would not work in Swaziland."

"Against the background of this shift in emphasis internationally, together with Swaziland’s commitments made in the context of bilateral or multilateral agreements, AI’s actions should seek to encourage strong expressions of concern from officials in or representing key countries or trading blocs or political unions about the impact of the Act on human rights. AI will also raise its concerns directly with the government of Swaziland and its diplomatic representatives abroad.

"Coordinators are asked to prioritise lobbying activities and request meetings with key officials and diplomatic representatives of Swaziland in their own country. Membership letter writing is encouraged to support lobbying initiatives and to target the government of Swaziland directly in the absence of diplomatic representation," it advises.

The ultimate goal for all the strategies is to increase protection of the rights of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly within the context of the government’s implementation of counter-terrorism measures.

The second approach suggested in the document seeks to provide protection of the space for the activities of civil society organisations. Most are being viewed with a suspicious eye by government at the present moment.

Approach 2:
The second approach of the campaign is concerned with supporting civil society organisations in Swaziland, the report states.

"The report was disseminated to a number of civil society organisations after publication, and they have told AI that the legal analysis is assisting their own work in public education on the Act and in legal advice to individuals facing charges under the Act," reads the report, on the section dealing with approaches to the coming campaign.

Currently, Amos Mbendzi and PUDEMO President Mario Masuku have been charged under the Act. Charges against SWAYOCO President Wandile Dludlu, who was arrested for organising an illegal rally, were withdrawn by the state recently.

"The Southern Africa team will continue to work with CSOs in the country on this issue."

"We hope that the first ongoing approach of the campaign will substantially halt harassment of civil society organisations and HRDs arising from the government’s misuse of the law to infringe their rights of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, through raising international alarm at this mistreatment," it states.

"We also intend to focus solidarity action on the organisations under threat themselves, including trade union organisations, to give them support. A solidarity action will be issued in mid-April, and will be accompanied by campaign materials to motivate membership action," states the report.

It further reads: "Individual countries may be able to exert some pressure on Swaziland in the context of their bilateral relations. In regard to the trading blocs or political unions and inter-governmental fora, there will be some requirements which Swaziland needs to meet relating to good governance and respect for human rights. The Swaziland government also values its participation in organisations such as SADC, the Commonwealth, the African Union and the UN."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mario’s son wins case

Mario’s son wins case
Swazi Times March 06,2009

MBABANE - High Court Judge Mabel Agyemang yesterday ordered that Mario Masuku’s son, Mzwandile, be allowed access to consult with his father behind bars.
The matter was finalised in chambers by senior lawyer Paul Shilubane and government lawyer Phesheya Dlamini.
Mzwandile, together with his principal, Thulani Maseko, had filed papers at the High Court, where they wanted to be allowed access to visit and consult with the jailed PUDEMO President.
Maseko wanted the court to declare that Mzwandile be allowed access to consult with his father in his capacity as an articled clerk (practising but not yet admitted attorney).
Judge Agyemang ruled that Mzwandile must not be hindered when he wants to consult with his father behind bars.
Dlamini’s argument to the judge was that government was not per se against Mzwandile consulting with his father as there were few technical problems encountered which could have simply been solved even outside the court.
The matter was eventually finalised by mutual agreement between the two parties, but costs were granted in Shilubane’s favour.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mario’s son barred from consulting him

Mario’s son barred from consulting him
Swazi Times March 05,2009

MBABANE - The High Court will today hear an urgent application brought by Mario Masuku’s son, Mzwandile and his employer Thulani Maseko.

The two want to be allowed access to visit and consult with the PUDEMO President while in jail.

Maseko has filed papers where he wants the court to declare that Mzwandile be allowed access to consult with his father in his capacity as an articled clerk (practising but not yet admitted attorney).

Maseko want the Correctional Services officials to allow Mzwandile confidential access to his father while still in custody.

In his founding affidavit, Maseko states that on the morning of March 2, 2009 he proceeded with Mzwandile to the Matsapha Correctional Services in order to consult and take instructions from the PUDEMO President.

He states that in the past he, together with Mzwandile, had been allowed to see and consult with Masuku without any difficulty.

"Upon arriving and having gone through the first stage of the institution and having signed the requisite gate pass, the applicants were told that only the first respondent (Maseko) would be allowed to consult with the client, the second applicant was denied such access because he is the son of the client. I, the first respondent and the principal of the second applicant, wanted to know what law or regulation, if any, was being used to deprive me of the right to consult with my client in the presence of my articled clerk.

The officer who attended us simply responded by saying he has been given the message to pass to the effect that I would not be allowed to consult with my client in the presence of the articled clerk," reads Maseko’s papers.

He contends that he tried to talk to the superiors of the officer he was dealing with but was told that they were not in. He alleges that the officer then went to consult with a Deputy Officer in Charge and came back to inform them that if Mzwandile is allowed in then there will have to be a prison officer present.

However, Maseko refused the offer and told the officer that they have a court order to the effect that they could have private consultations with Masuku and that in any case Mzwandile was his article clerk.

"I explained to him that it would be improper for me to leave him outside when I have a legal obligation to train him in the practice of the law, especially in this case in which the said Mario Masuku is facing a charge of Terrorism alternatively Sedition. The officer could not accept any of my submissions, stating that there was no way he could compromise, without indicating to me what law or regulation was he relying on to prevent me from exercising my rights," continues Maseko in his submission.

He also argues that in the past he had sent Mzwandile to consult with Masuku without any problems but things have suddenly changed.

Maseko is represented by senior lawyer Paul Shilubane.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mario’s friends turned back from seeing him

Mario’s friends turned back from seeing him
Sunday Times March 01,2009

MBABANE—Government, through the Correctional Services Department, has once again refused to obey a court order.

Yesterday, some friends and relatives of PUDEMO chief Mario Masuku were denied permission to see him at Matsapha Maximum Prison despite a court order issued by a full bench of judges on Wednesday.

Masuku has been charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, for statements he allegedly made during the funeral service for Musa ‘MJ’ Dlamini, who died during the failed Lozitha bridge bombing.

One of those who were turned back by uncompromising prison warders was Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions chief Jan Sithole and his counterpart from the Swaziland United Democratic Front, Barnes Dlamini.

Sithole confirmed this in an interview.

"They turned us back and the reasons given were not so clear. They told us that only three people per day are allowed to see Masuku. I failed to understand their new arrangement because we were all arrested there at some point, but our relatives and friends were allowed to visit us," said an irritated Sithole.

"We also asked if this was a standing rule, and if such a rule applied to other suspects and inmates. Their response was that it was an instruction from their superiors," he said.

Sithole said they were carrying the court order, but officers told them that it had no effect in light of the strict instructions issued by their superiors.

Sithole lamented the warders’ action, adding that their behaviour gave one the impression that Masuku had already been convicted for the alleged crime.

"In addition to that kind of treatment, he is kept in solitary confinement, as if he is a dangerous criminal," he said.

However, it was reliably gathered that other visitors were allowed to see the suspect prior to Sithole’s arrival.

He went on to state that they were contemplating reporting the matter to the High Court.

"Maybe the courts should unpack the ruling because clearly, the prison authorities are doing as they please, despite the instrument of the court," he said.

The ruling in favour of Masuku was issued on Wednesday. He had applied seeking permission to have his friends, comrades and relatives to see him at the prison.
He has persistently refused to seek bail on the grounds that he does not have money to give to a government that never concludes his cases. He has hopes that by remaining in jail, government will speed up his trial.

The Correctional Services PRO’s phone was not available on the network when sought for comment.