Swaziland: Campaign launched for release of political prisoners

June 13, 2023
Communist Party of Swaziland leader Mvuselelo Mkhabela. Photo: Communist Party of Swaziland

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) is set to launch a “Break the Chains” campaign to demand the release of political prisoners, including its Central Committee member Mvuselelo Mkhabela, whose bail hearing is scheduled for June 22.

Police broke into his house at 4am, on February 7, and abducted him along with another CPS member Bongi Mamba. They had organised a successful demonstration and roadblock the previous day demanding the release of political prisoners and agitating for the boycott of the “undemocratic” elections scheduled in August.

The campaign will include protests and roadblocks in rural communities, starting with Mvuselelo’s small town of Hluti in the Hosea constituency in Shiselweni, the poorest region in rural Swaziland, where he had organised communities against the monarchy. In the course of this work, Mvuselelo has been detained and tortured thrice by the police in the last three months and shot once.

With all political parties banned in the country, only individuals approved by the King’s local chiefs can contest these elections to parliament. The legislative body has no authority to hold the executive accountable; the latter is directly appointed by King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch. The CPS describes the elections as a farce, meant only to legitimise the monarchy.

As part of the CPS campaign to “Boycott, Disrupt, and Stop” these elections, Mvuselo had been carrying out regular agitation to convince community members not to participate in this election and instead to actively disrupt it.

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