Swaziland's Mswati III bans meetings and berets
Hidden footage shows members of Swaziland's opposition arrested, with the king implementing media clampdowns and apartheid-like bans on meetings.
In March 2014, the editor of Swaziland's the Nation magazine, Bhekithemba Makhubu, and prominent human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, were arrested for two articles they published that criticised Swaziland's Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi. The articles lamented the lack of independence of the country's judiciary.
After being released for a short period on bail, the two were re-arrested on April 9 2014. They are currently held in custody pending the setting of a court date in July.
During the annual May Day celebrations in Manzini, People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) opposition party members Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini were arrested and charged with terrorism for their speeches. Soon after, seven other Pudemo members were arrested for protesting the detainment of Maseko and Makhubu.
While the latter group was released on bail, Masuku and Dlamini were detained. On Monday, their application for acquittal was dismissed by Judge Simelane on the grounds that the state had made a prima facie case.
Prior to the May Day arrests, a government official took to the stage and was booed off by the crowds singing songs of protest. Also highlighted during one of the speeches was the bad working conditions of Swazis in the textile industry largely controlled by Chinese and "white business owners in Maloba".
These instances of media and opposition party clampdowns in the country are common. Many media rights groups and forums have called King Mzwati III's rule a draconian dictatorship, noting that there are no free media channels in the country and media questioning the government and the king face severe consequences. Furthermore, opposition party T-shirts, berets and meetings are forbidden by the king, not unlike apartheid's infamous laws on political meetings.
Mswati III has further been criticised by various prominent civil society organisations for the country's poor human rights record since he took over from his father.