Cosatu will work with Swaziland
Johannesburg - The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Sunday pledged to co-operate with their counterparts in Swaziland.
"We will work with these organisations duly and listen to them for what has to be done," Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini said at the launch of the Swaziland Democracy campaign in Johannesburg
"We will stand with you, but you still have to wage your own struggle."
Dlamini said that Cosatu would provide assistance for trade unions in Swaziland, but that most of the work would be done by Swazis themselves.
"Cosatu is not a big brother in Swaziland."
Dlamini, who is an ethnic Swazi, said for him the issue was a personal one.
"In my other life, that is where I was born. Where the rest of my family lives and are suffering," Dlamini told the audience.
Also participating in the launch were leaders from the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF), the banned People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) as well as Swazi trade unions.
According to their schedule, representatives from the SA Communist Party and an African National Congress (ANC) MP were to also speak, but did not appear.
Several of the speakers criticised the lack of media attention on Swaziland, which suffers from an HIV prevalence rate of 49% and wide-spread poverty, as well as from SA Development Community (SADC) governments.
Activist and author Elinor Sisulu called SADC "a trade unions for presidents".
"It is an organisation which represents the interests of dictators in the region," said Sisulu.
Sisulu, who married into the family of ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu, said that Swazis had played host for ANC members and provided their children with education.
She said this hospitality was not to be confused with refuge provided by the Swazi government.
"They benefited from the generosity of the Swazi people, not the regime but the people," Sisulu said.
She asked that South Africans offer similar support for Swazis today.
"There is no refugee in the state house. It is the working people who look after them," she said.
Organisers of the campaign hope that it will present a new start to the democracy movement.
The SUDF, in its name and a logo of people marching with a white flag, seeks to emulate the South African United Democratic Front which successfully sought the end of apartheid.
However, the democracy movement in Swaziland has been divided by conflicts between actors.
Many speakers pleaded for unity in the face of the Swazi government.
"We must be building ties and not [letting them] divide us," said Dlamini.
"Because if we are divided we will never free the Swazi people."