The land-locked Kingdom of Swaziland has a population of just 1.4 million. This small country is often overlooked despite the denial of democracy, rights and enduring Africa’s longest running state of emergency since 1973.
The people of Swaziland suffer from extreme poverty (almost two thirds of the population live on less than $2 a day). It has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world at 27 per cent. Swaziland is Africa's only autocratic absolute monarchy. Political parties are banned, political and civic activists are imprisoned, and the judiciary, media and other authoritative bodies are controlled by the monarchy.
Swaziland gets a great deal of international credibility from its membership of the Commonwealth, but doesn’t want to play by the rules.
Email the Commonwealth Secretary General and urge him to refer Swaziland to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group for persistently violating basic human rights, the rule of law, democratic principles and the values of the Commonwealth.
Mario Masuku, Maxwell Dlamini, Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu have now been released. Thulani and Bheki served a year of their two year sentence and Mario and Maxwell have been released on bail.
The release of the four activists shows that international action makes a difference. Read more here
In November 2015, ACTSA made a submission to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) that called for Swaziland to be held to account for its serious breaches of the Commonwealth Charter.
The allegations that Swaziland must address include: compromised institutions of democracy; a weakened judiciary; restrictions on the participation of political parties in the democratic process including a clampdown on the freedoms of association, assembly and expression; abuses of women’s rights; and systemic governance problems leading to endemic poverty.
You can find out more about the situation in Swaziland in ACTSA's briefing paper, which examines the country's history, political situation, human and labour rights and the HIV/AIDS crisis.
ACTSA's work in Swaziland
ACTSA works to increase awareness of the situation in Swaziland, calling for democracy and the respect of human rights.
Working with a wide range of civil society organisations in Swaziland, we highlight the denial of democracy and human rights abuses to decision makers in the UK, Commonwealth and European Union, and encourage them to take action. We also support actions and initiatives in southern Africa which help bring about democracy and rights for Swaziland.
Wandile Dludlu, Coordinator of the Swaziland United Democratic Front addresses ACTSA Conference 'Southern Africa: Human Rights and Development' November 2013.
Prospects for the future: Interview with Wandile Dludlu