Protest blocks KZN-Swaziland border

South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal border with Swaziland was completely blocked on Wednesday in a protest against the kingdom’s leadership, said the Swaziland Solidarity Network.

“The Golela border post, which is the border between South Africa and Swaziland in KwaZulu-Natal, has been blocked to traffic by our protesters since 5am,” said spokesperson Lucky Lukhele.

The border-post blockade was being conducted by 500 members of the Solidarity Network, Congress of South African Trade Unions, the South African Communist Party and the Young Communist League. Another four busloads of protesters were expected.

Similar protests were taking place at the Mahamba border post in Mpumalanga, the main border post of Oshoek near Carolina, and at Mananga and Matsamo about an hour from Nelspruit, said Lukhele.

“The protests and pickets are being held today [Wednesday] as a commemoration of this day 33 years ago when King Sobuza II disgraced the Swazi people by putting a state of emergency in place in the country, which persists to this day.

“The state of emergency has allowed the royals to disregard the human rights and political freedoms of the people.”

The country is ruled by King Mswati III under a system known as a constitutional monarchy with Mswati III the head of state, but the prime minister the head of the government.

The country’s Cabinet is appointed by the king at the recommendation of the prime minister.
All political parties are banned.

Lukhele said the group was demanding the establishment of a democratically elected national constitutional forum and the unbanning of all political parties.

It also wanted the unconditional release of all political prisoners, the return of exiles, and the removal of laws prohibiting free political action and the right to organise.

Home Affairs spokesperson Nkosana Sibuyi said the department would have to check whether the march permit issued by the police allowed the marchers to block the border posts.

“Should it be found that they are contravening the stipulations of the march agreement [with the South Africa Police Service] then the police would have to act on that as part of their responsibility as the dispensing authority of the march certificate.”

He said the department had yet to establish whether there were any disruptions in service at the border posts.—Sapa

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