PM's strong warning
MBABANE – Armed soldiers yesterday paraded through the capital city aboard a convoy of armoured vehicles, ahead of today’s planned protest action by labour organisations.
In a statement issued by Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini in the afternoon, "national security agents have been instructed to protect life and property against any protest action planned anywhere as it has been declared illegal by Cabinet."
"The public should be aware that no person, persons or organisation has made an application to march or picket in terms of the law," the PM said.
He said government respected the fundamental rights of all citizens to engage in lawful protest action.
Dlamini referred to past protest actions that were allowed to take place where even police security was provided for the marchers.
"Government respects the rule of law and has a duty not to allow any march/strike that will be held outside the confines of the law. All protest actions, therefore, must conform to the provisions of the law," the statement further reads.
It further outlined: "No illegal protest action will be allowed to take place as announced by certain individuals anytime and anywhere in the country, including this week."
It was around 11:50am when the eight army vehicles entered the city, with blaring sirens filling the atmosphere, and drove through amid stares from members of the public.
Soldiers carrying guns protruded from the army vehicles’ rooftops as the convoy made its way up Gwamile Street – the city’s main inner road.
The army vehicles did not stop at traffic robots while some were, at times, driven on pavements, but this was only done when there were neither pedestrians nor vehicles nearby.
For moments the city centre came to a standstill as shoppers, tenants, commuters, employees and loafers stood transfixed by the rare sight.
On reaching the end of Gwamile Street, at the Golf Course junction, the vehicles were then driven up the St Mark’s road until they reached the top of Coronation Park, adjacent to the high school.
There, the vehicles parked for about 15 minutes, with the armed soldiers sitting on top of the vehicles.
At around 12:15pm, the vehicles again hit the city, this time taking a different route as they drove through Gwamile Street and then took the direction of the bus rank upon reaching the Spar robots.
People were seen rushing to catch a glimpse of the army cars, sirens blaring and lights blazing, and the multitudes at the bus rank would not be left out. The vehicles drove down Dr Sishayi Road and headed for the direction of the government inter-ministerial offices.
They drove in the Mvakwelitje direction and joined the Oshoek-Manzini highway above the Prime Minister’s residence and descended Malagwane Hill.
Army PRO, Major Khanya Dlamini, said the soldiers were on routine work that is conducted every year.
"It’s not the first time this is happening. It happens yearly, maybe just that people do not notice," Dlamini said.
Apart from the soldiers paying the city an unusual visit, the capital was littered with police and correctional services personnel who were patrolling the streets.
Coronation Park was patrolled by close to 30 officers while government ministry buildings had officers stationed at the gates.
The mall, bus rank, industrial site and most of the streets had a strong presence of state security officers, some of whom were in plain clothes.
Furthermore, the two main roads leading into the city from Msunduza Township had roadblocks for the entire day.
The tight security is in anticipation of today’s planned protest action, scheduled to begin at 9am at Coronation Park.
But we wrote to ministries - TUCOSWA
MBABANE – Workers have letters notifying some ministries on their intention to deliver petitions today.
TUCOSWA First Secretary General, Mduduzi Gina, produced four letters they wrote to the government ministries they would be visiting.
These include the office of the Prime Minister and all letters are dated April 11, 2012.
The one to the PM is titled ‘petition delivery on freedom of association and various issues’.
It reads: "The office of the Prime Minister is kindly informed that the leadership stewards and activists of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) intend to deliver a petition for the Prime Minister’s attention on April 12, 2012 at around 11am. The petition delivering procession shall start from the Coronation Park in Mbabane. By copy hereof, the Royal Swaziland Police is hereby informed for security and public order."
The three other letters are directed to the Ministries of Finance, Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the Labour and Social Security portfolio.
They were responding to the statement by the Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini that no person, persons or organisation has made an application to march or picket in terms of the law.
Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini is not telling the truth when he says the armed forces are out to protect life and property. That is no true because a protest march is not a revolution and in this case the chief objective was to deliver a petition not to destroy life and property. Then my question to the Premier is, WHOSE LIFE AND PROPERTY ARE THEY PROTECTING IF THEY DENY THE PEOPLE THEIR RIGHTS TO VOICE OUT THEIR CONCERNS. TUCOSWA wrote to government over the march but FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN made Barnabas to behave the way he did. Please do not push the public this further because tomorrow it might be to your detriment.
Apr 12, 2012, 9:01 AM, Kalawa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This comes as no suprise to peole like us who are keenly following the unfolding political scenario that is told with a loud human commentary from all corners of the nation. We are at a time when those in leadership are hell bent to preserve a system that is no longer wanted by the people. Parading the mighty of their armed forces will not in a way deter the fed-up Swazi people. It is still time, however, for the authorities to embrace democracy before it is late. Change can only be delayed but not denied, freedom is coming in Swaziland, Democracy is on its way, AMAAANDLA. THESE ARE ALL SIGNS OF A FAILING GOVERNMENT.
Apr 12, 2012, 9:05 AM, Khaya Simelane
Barnabas uwatsatsaphi emandla ekutsatsa tibhamu temaswati, atinike whosoever, with the sole aim of aiming, intimadating and shooting at the very Swazis that give him the money to buy the weapons? If he has such authority, then he must be special to God for him to hold such permission. impela ingabe kuyawentekani? sikholwa kutsi uyawukutfola kukhanya ngalelinye lilanga.
Apr 12, 2012, 4:42 PM, dlamini (email@example.com)