A newspaper in Botswana has criticised Swaziland’s King Mswati III calling him an ‘oppressor’ of the Swazi people.
Mmegi, in an editorial comment, on Thursday (11 May 2017) called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which Mswati chairs to review the kingdom. It said, ‘SADC should prepare for a tough assignment the day the Swazis say enough is enough and stand up to their King to demand democracy.’
King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and King Mswati’s subjects are only allowed to pick 55 of the 65 members of the House of Assembly; the other 10 are appointed by the King. None of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people; the King appoints 20 members and the other 10 are appointed by the House of Assembly.
The King choses the Prime Minister and cabinet members. Only a man with the surname Dlamini can, by tradition, be appointed as Prime Minister. The King is a Dlamini.
Earlier in May 2017, the globally-renowned charity Oxfam named Swaziland as the most unequal country in the world.
In its editorial comment Mmegi said King Mswati III had been in Botswana for a two-day tour of the SADC Secretariat which is based in Gaborone. The King brought at least two of his wives and family in addition to his entourage.
The newspaper called King Mswati III, ‘an oppressor who does not allow press freedom, multiparty democracy, trade unionism and any dissenting voices are crushed with a disproportionate force.’
It added, ‘In Swaziland, judges take instructions from the King and they comply unconditionally, something, which we are fighting hard in Botswana. The independence of the judiciary, the independent press, and dissenting voices are a measure of commitment to democracy. It is disturbing that SADC has allowed King Mswati III to be the chairman of the bloc yet he does not believe in their democratic values and principles.
‘SADC should review some of its agreements to ensure that it remains relevant to the youth, majority of whom believe in democracy, freedom of expression and the fact that Africa is part of the global village.’
It added, ‘France recently elected its youngest President ever at the age of 39, and the whole world was watching including the youth in Africa and particularly in Swaziland where they are not allowed to say a word about the expenditure of their public funds amongst others. SADC should prepare for a tough assignment the day the Swazis say enough is enough and stand up to their King to demand democracy.’
Mmegi said, ‘We want the youth of Swaziland to have same ambitions and dreams as their regional counterparts to one day take part in the affairs of their country and even lead it. SADC should put more pressure on Swaziland to formulate a new constitution to usher in democracy and keeping the Royal family as a ceremonial institution.’
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