We had a passionate Vigil outside the Swaziland High Commission here in London. We were happy to hear that there is going to be a mass demonstration on 12/13 April in Mbabane against the excesses of King Mswati III. Most Swazi,s at the vigil feared there would be violence given the intolerance of the regime. The Vigil noted an article in the UK’s Sun newspaper that King Mswati has demanded a cow from every family as a 44th birthday present. Since the average daily income in Swaziland is only around $2 this is a ludicrous demand. The Swazi Vigil gives warning to Mr Mswati III that they will be waiting for him when he comes to London to pollute the Queen’s birthday celebrations in June.
We were pleased to receive a phone call from one of the champions of Swaziland Democracy campaigners, a true hero in our eyes one who has sacrificed a lot, Mphandlana Shongwe. Mphandlana applauded us for the Swazi vigil and encouraged us never to give up until there is democracy in Swaziland. One member of the management team Flora Dlamini gave us a detailed suffering life story of Mphandlana Shongwe. Flora told the vigil that, Mphandlana Shongwe who is the Deputy President of SWAYOGO was jailed in 1996 for false allegations against him. During a strike which was organized by SFTU (Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions) a Swazi flag fell down inside the Trade Fair in Manzini and he was the first suspect. Was taken and beaten up by police. Later discharged and banned from teaching. This was just to get him out of his profession as a teacher. He has been living a hard life in the hands of the police and army people. His movements are monitored all the time; he has no social life at all. He must not be seen in a company of more than 3 people.
We at the vigil so it fit to publicize this evil behavior by Mswati, what has happened to Mphandlana Shongwe is totally unacceptable and we want to warn those perpetrators that the world is watching and their actions will be brought to justice. We are encouraging all Swazis to compile a list of those police officers and soldiers who are committing those atrocities and they will be brought to justice. We want to also send this message to the police officers and the soldiers that if they beat torture or imprison the peaceful demonstrators on the 12th and 13th April, they will be brought to justice.
We are encouraging all Swazis to come out in their thousands and join the demonstrations on the 12th and 13th April, this is the only way that will force Mswati to allow democracy in Swaziland.
Thanks once again to Margret Simelani for coming early to set up the vigil, it should be noted that Margret is physically not well but she is prepared to make sacrifices for the freedom of the Swazi people. Thanks to Kelvin Kampira who hastily learned Italian to persuade the number of Italian tourist to sign our petitions. Thanks to Georgina Makaza, a Zimbabwean activist who came to our vigil to support us, she was moved by the suffering of the Swazi people that she promised to be coming to our vigil every Saturday. Last but not least Thanks to Francesca Toft, who brought an article in the Sun and thanks also to Fungayi Mabhunu for the tremendous support.