ANC: Freedom for Swazis in their lifetime

"Everyone must have freedom in their lifetime," ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete told reporters in Johannesburg.

The conference was held under a banner of "strengthening the international solidarity movement" and was attended by the ANC's alliance partners, solidarity groups, NGOs, and intergovernmental organisations drawn from across the world.

The Swaziland resolution formed part of the Tshwane declaration which, along with the liberation of Swaziland, called for:

  • The total emancipation of the people of West Sahara,
  • the release of the Cuban Five from US custody; and
  • the cessation of Israeli occupation in Palestinian territories, as well as economic sanctions to be imposed on Israel.

"We need to assist all progressive forces in Swaziland to ensure that Swaziland is liberated as all of us in our lifetime," read the resolution pertaining to the landlocked kingdom.

But Mbete said this would not necessarily translate into the ANC leading any initiative to execute any of the resolutions contained in the declaration – especially bringing about political change in Swaziland.

"The ANC has a task to form a committee from those who attended the conference, which will decide what action to take regarding Swaziland," she added.

Swailand has been in the international spotlight as of late following the suppression of opposition parties and pro-democracy groups by the country's government since early 2011.

The call for political change comes as South Africa's treasury is due to provide the first tranche of a R2.4-billion loan to the cash-strapped kingdom.

The decision to grant the credit came under harsh criticism as it was suggested King Mswati III – famous for his high living and 13 shopaholic wives – could receive a "personal commission" for securing the loan.

But it is understood that the first tranche of the loan, announced on August 3, has yet to be transferred and negotiations over the exact terms and conditions are on-going.

When approached for comment on the matter, the department of international relations and cooperation discounted the call for Swaziland liberation and said it was a "non-issue".

"That conference was a gathering of political parties, so that is strictly a political matter and has nothing to do with our department," department spokesperson Clayson Monyela told the Mail & Guardian.

Monyela said that while the ANC was entitled to their views and aspirations, the department only ever engaged the Swaziland government diplomatically.

"We've encouraged the government in Swazliand to engage with all parties, with a view to solving all political problems in that country."

Monyela added the department of international relations was bound by regional process with their engagement in the Swaziland region and would "only ever advise and not dictate".

"South Africa will always be on hand to share our experience in resolving conflict in an advisory role," he said.

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