I haven’t written much about Swaziland recently as the situation in that small country in Southern Africa hasn’t changed very much. But I received this article from the primary English language newspaper this morning.
The short version appears to be that the Swazi King is becoming increasingly frustrated with the low level unrest in the populace. There have been increasing calls for governmental reform as the economic and public health situation has deteriorated. Rather than deal with the reformers directly, the government is suggesting that the real problem is the “foreigners” who advocate for democracy among the native Swazi tribes.
So in response the government is looking to an old tribal punishment, flogging the feet of offenders with spikes and effectively crippling them for a long while. This has the advantage of stopping the protestor and forcing his or her supporters to support him or her while they recover from their wounds. An effective and medieval response.
It will probably be effective in the short run, but totally useless in the long run given that it does nothing to respond to the real issue.
What we can do is get the word out that this is happening, and highlight the violence against peaceful protestors when it does.
Full article after the jump:
‘Sipakatane’ for rowdy foreigners
By SIBONGILE SUKATI on September 09,2010 Times of Swaziland.
NGWENYA —Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini has said government will consider using ‘sipakatane’ to punish dissidents and foreigners who come to the country and disturb the peace.
Sipakatane, which is known to the world as ‘bastinado’, is a form of punishment or torture that was meted out by the Portuguese and in which they would flog the bare soles of a person’s feet with a spiked wooden or metal implement that made the victim to bleed and become unable to walk for a long period of time.
Dlamini, on his return from Rwanda where he had gone to attend the second inauguration of that country’s President Paul Kagame, said he had received reports from the Acting PM Themba Masuku and the police chiefs that there had been foreigners and a group of a noisy minority that had taken part in what was supposed to be a peaceful protest march by workers.
Speaking at the Ngwenya Border gate, the PM said he had taken a cue from Kagame’s speech who in his short but hard hitting address said there had been foreigners who had come to teach about democracy and human rights in his country yet they had problems in their own countries of origin.
He said although Kagame had not said what the solution was to these people that meddled in other countries’ affairs, the use of bastinado could be the solution.
“Each person should mind the politics of his own country and not come here to meddle in our affairs especially if that country has a lot of its own problems,” said Dlamini.
The PM said perhaps the form of punishment should be bastinado. He mentioned that the genocide in Rwanda had been caused by a society that had decided to fight each other and over a million people were killed.
Dlamini said every country or community had its own dissidents and it was up to government to deal with the noisy minorities whom he said he wished would behave in a grown-up manner and stop behaving like children.
“Wonkhe umango unebatfwana labangeva emadlebeni futsi sifisa kutsi bangakhula ngisho nje banetilevu,” said the PM. This loosely translates to that each community has its mischievous people and he wished they would grow up even though they already had beards. Dlamini said Swaziland was a peaceful country and perhaps the very reason that there was this noisy minority was because of the peace that the country had. He said the foreigners who came to disturb the peace had problems in their own countries.
He however, said he was grateful he had returned to the peaceful Swaziland which he had left a few days ago.
On the trip, the PM said millions of Rwandese had watched the inauguration and said at the stadium where it had taken place which held 40 000 people, but there were others outside the stadiums where TV screens had been mounted.
He said over 10 heads of state attended the inauguration.
Dlamini said they also attended a meeting where most African countries, including Swaziland, reported on their progress on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which would be discussed further at the United Nations Assembly to be held towards the end of September in New York.
Present at the border to meet the PM was the Deputy Prime Minister, Themba Masuku and five other ministers and principal secretaries. He arrived at 1.15pm.