Protesters oppose 'royal slavery'

Sakhile Mokoena

Ten people including Spasha Dlamini, the secretary of Swaziland's banned People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), were arrested yesterday during demonstrations at the Mananga border post.

There were also demonstrations at the Matsamo, Oshoek, Mahamba and Lavumisa border posts. Demonstrators said they were protesting against "royal slavery" in the kingdom.

They said they want political parties unbanned, political prisoners released, the return of their members in exile and the abolishment of the tinkhundla royal administration system.

Cosatu and SACP in Mpumalanga picketed in support of the protesters. Mpumalanga's Cosatu general secretary Norman Mokoena said the demonstrations in the province were peaceful.

Since 2005 Swaziland has experienced protests. Two years ago members of Pudemo were charged with treason after demonstrations turned violent.

Last year seven people were shot and 40 arrested for public violence during demonstrations and border blockades.

On April 12 1973 Mswati's father, King Sobhuza II, declared a state of emergency and seized powers from the judiciary and banned all political parties in the kingdom.

The king implemented the tinkhundla royal administration, which combines the Swazi traditional system of government with the modern Westminster system.

The communities, which are organised according to their respective chieftain realms, form the base of the system. The chief- tain realms form different tinkhundla, plural for inkhundla.

The inkhundla reports to the Swazi National Council Standing Committee on traditional matters, which advises the king.

The Swaziland parliament is comprised of elected members from 55 tinkhundla and 10 members appointed by the king.