Press Release from the Swaziland Vigil – 9th September 2012


The British trade union group, the Trades Union Congress, says it is to call on the Commonwealth to suspend Swaziland because of human rights abuses. The call echoes an appeal in a petition to the Commonwealth signed by hundreds of people at a regular vigil held outside the Swaziland High Commission in London (


The co-ordinator of the Swaziland Vigil, Thobile Gwebu, told a committee meeting at the Houses of Parliament (on 5th September) about the oppression by the country’s absolute ruler King Mswati III who, she said, had recently bought an airliner while his people starved. She said women were particularly victimized because they had few rights.


‘Swazis are reduced to eating cow dung so they can fill their bellies as required for the AIDS medicines provided by NGOs’, she said.


Tony Dykes, Director of the NGO Action for Southern Africa, said something must be done before the situation in Swaziland gets even worse. Polly Jones of Unison, Britain’s biggest public sector union, said workers in Swaziland had had no pay rise in years despite annual inflation now reaching 9%.


The Labour Shadow Minister for International Development, Rushanara Ali MP, said Swaziland was not being challenged enough by the outside world about its human rights record.