jeudi, 21 mars 2019

Swazi communists allege Mswati terror tactics to enforce election farce

The Mswati regime of Swaziland is frantically and violently pushing ahead with its moribund national elections in the face of widespread voter apathy and crippling corruption, says the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS).

The CPS charges the Mswati regime with grossly distorting the number of voters registered to take part in the upcoming poll, set for 20 September. The regime insists that 411 000 out of 600 000 eligible voters have signed up at voter registration centres across the country.

"Our cadres have been closely monitoring the situation," says CPS general secretary Kenneth Kunene. "There is no evidence that anything like that number of people have registered. Quite the opposite. We have seen much apathy, resistance and passive opposition to Mswati’s elections."

The CPS has been running a clandestine campaign to urge a boycott of the elections. It has circulated some 10 000 anti-election leaflets in the country, and is organizing below-radar meetings and door-to-door campaigning to inform about the anti-democratic nature of the elections.

The CPS says that what registration there has been has largely been enforced by local chiefs, who are key officials in the feudal Tinkhundla system that is the administrative framework of Swaziland’s absolute monarchy.

Kunene says that the system is corrupt from start to finish, and that the pre-election process has been fraught with scandal and fraud. "The regime is eating away at itself from within, as it becomes ever clearer that it is unsustainable and as the elites grub around for dwindling cash sources."

The CPS says it has evidence that the chiefs have threatened to confiscate land and deny privileges to potential voters unless they turn up to vote.

"The police have also been threatening people to make them register. Very few people have been voluntarily going along to register. Everyone knows that these elections are not about equality, rights or representation," says Kunene.

The party is particularly alarmed at what seems to be a spate of ritual killings, possibly linked to the ongoing terrorization of the people at the instigation of Tinkhundla chiefs.

"We have evidence of such killings are are trying to investigate them, as they are not being taken up by he police or reported by the state-controlled media."

The Tinkhundla elections are provided for by the country’s 2005 constitution. No political parties are allowed to take part in them, nor are candidates allowed to stand for election on political platforms. Candidates are chosen by chiefs on the basis of their support for and loyalty to the King.

Political parties have been banned in Swaziland since the early 1970s and the country is ruled by a monarchic autocracy in a system mixing traditional feudalism and capitalism tailored to sustaining the monarchy and the extended royal family.

"The regime is planning to hold what it calls ’voter education’," says Kunene. "This will be a chaotic mess, as the police are planning to enforce participation, as they tried with the registration process. All this is simply reinforcing the people’s opposition to the elections. They are realizing that the polls have nothing to do with improving their conditions."

Swaziland is classed a middle income country but in fact is rife with rock-bottom poverty, the world’s highest rates of HIV-AIDS and TB, and some of the lowest levels of life expectancy anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa.

Kunene says that so far the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has kept a low profile over Mswati’s elections when it should show moral courage and condemn them unequivocally.

"SADC and neighbouring states refuse to condemn the lack of democracy and the massive oppression of the Swazi people by the King," says Kunene. "Their silence is a major reason why this oppression continues."

Kunene says that the lesson of the connivance of other countries and the international community in Africa with the Mswati regime is a bitter lesson that only the actions of Swazi activists and movements alone will change the situation in the country.

"Of course we continue to urge SADC, South Africa and others to take a proactive stance on Swaziland and work to remove the Mswati dictatorship. This is not like Zimbabwe, where negotiations and power-sharing are the order of the day," Kunene claims.

"The bottom line is that Mswati must be removed and his whole political system dismantled. Anything less than that will be disastrous for the people of Swaziland."


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