Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Swaziland protests overwhelmed by violence

Swaziland’s pro-democracy campaigners are urging determination in the face of police who used water cannons, tear gas, beatings and arrests to put down demonstrations this week.

Labour leaders involved in the protests called them off late on Wednesday, the second of what would have been three days of demonstrations to demand reforms in sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy. But other organisers are pushing for more.

In a statement on Thursday, the Swaziland Solidarity Network said ending protests would tell Swazi authorities all that is required to stop them “are a few blows to the head”.

Police presence was heavy with no signs of demonstrations early on Thursday on the streets of Manzini, the economic hub where activists have tried to protest.

Swazi police fired tear gas to disperse activists who held anti-government protests for a second day on Wednesday, despite a call to stop the action after a police crackdown.

Union leaders said they had suspended their protest against King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch, to re-strategise as fresh arrests and a heavy police presence in the main city blocked activists from rallying.

Hundreds of teachers at first refused to end the protest and police fired tear gas to remove them from an office where they were staging a sit-in.

But the stand-off ended after several hours, said Muzi Masuku, a spokesperson for the Open Society non-governmental organisation, which helped mediate in the crisis.

The protesters want the free-spending king to loosen his grip on power and allow multi-party democracy, and are also angry at government proposals to slash salaries for civil servants amid a severe budget crisis.

Unions called for the protests on Tuesday to mark the 38th anniversary of the banning of political parties in a country where 70% of the people live in dire poverty and 25% of adults have HIV, the world’s highest rate. — Sapa-AP

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Mbeki tells ANC that land without compensation goes against the...

‘This would be a very serious disincentive to investment,’ says Thabo Mbeki in a document arguing that the ANC should not proceed with the Constitutional amendment of section 25

Micro-hydropower lights up an Eastern Cape village

There is hidden potential for small hydropower plants in South Africa

More top stories

Gigaba says it was ‘an unfortunate coincidence’ SOEs were captured...

The former public enterprises minister says he was at a deliberate remove from state companies’ dealings and could not have learned of the looting

SIU freezes R22-million in Digital Vibes accounts

The Special Investigating Unit said it would ask the tribunal to declare the health department’s contract with the company unlawful

Life-saving free train travel offered to domestic abuse victims in...

A pioneering railway scheme in the UK is helping domestic violence victims to escape their abusers by providing them with free travel to reach refuge

Oral submissions to inquiry on local government elections start next...

The hearings will be open to the media and the public, under strict level-three regulations
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×