Swazi king throws public forum open

2012-08-07 22:40

Ludzidzini - Swazi King Mswati III on Tuesday opened a three-day "People's Parliament" where his subjects can voice their opinions in Africa's last absolute monarchy amid a teachers' strike.

Discussions started in earnest at Mswati's royal palace in Ludzidzini, north of the capital Mbabane, as people vented frustrations and discussed the direction politics must take in the tiny nation.

The opposition and activists slammed the forum as an empty move since it has no power, and the kingdom's only trade union federation called a meeting to discuss a response.

"This is nothing but a window dressing exercise to make the international community believe that Swazis are allowed to shape the direction of the country, when in truth in such forums the speakers are specially selected and the agenda not known," said Zakhele Mabuza, spokesperson for the banned opposition party Pudemo.

Mswati had summoned people to his palace on Monday, sparking rumours he might announce democratic reforms but instead he called for a forum, known as a Sibaya.

Mswati last called a Sibaya seven years ago before passing a new constitution.

Civil society groups boycotted it then, and Mswati snubbed a similar colloquium set up by non-governmental organisations last year.

The talks come as a teachers' strike enters its sixth week.

Protests have grown since last year in the traditionally peaceful kingdom, which is bordered on three sides by South Africa, where trade unions and the banned political movements are calling for democratic reforms.

The country's problems are partly blamed on Mswati's extravagant lifestyle, supporting his 13 wives each in her own palace and high-flying international shopping trips, all paid for by state funds.

  • lacrimose.wolf - 2012-08-07 23:04

    From the beginning of recorded history to just last week, every downfall of a tyrant, king, despot or just plain unwanted ruler has started in the same way. Just goes to show - you can have all the edu & good things in the world but when the megalomania sets, you're on a one-way street. Guess that's the definition of insanity

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-08-08 07:17

    No doubt; sooner than later, the Swazi's want their country back !!!

  • Hermann - 2012-08-08 07:26

    Just an indaba to serve as a public relations exercise on the road to nowhere.

  • Stephen - 2012-08-08 07:48

    Followed by three days of public executions. Nice way of identifying trouble makers.

      erich.goosen - 2012-08-08 10:18

      Or an opportunity to selet candidates for him harem. The Reed dance is still a few months away.

  • philippus.j.jacobs - 2012-08-08 08:15

    Spring Egypt, Summer Libia, Winter Swaziland. Our days are numberred!

  • tony.naidoo - 2012-08-08 15:05

    Public throws out Swazi king ! Now, that will make an excellent headline!Down with the despot !

  • wandile.comfort.mhlanga - 2012-08-10 18:37

    If you know nothing on Swaziland...well you know nothing. We love our country, our culture and our King. The forum has gained momentum. issues discussed cover many subjects: Poverty alleviation, politics etc.

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