Sibusiso Ngalwa, Sunday Times, Johannesburg, 3 April 2011
A panicky King Mswati, who fears being toppled in a Tunisian-style revolution in his tiny kingdom of Swaziland, has pleaded with South Africa’s Hawks and crime intelligence to help him avert an uprising.
The Sunday Times can reveal that a top-level meeting took place at the head office of the Hawks in Pretoria two weeks ago.
Hawks boss Anwar Dramat and a representative of the intelligence community met three representatives of the Swazi government.
A South African official said that the Swazis wanted South Africa’s law enforcement agencies to monitor the movements and communications of the leaders of the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), operating from Cosatu House in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
It is not clear if anything was decided at the meeting.
The SSN is said to be among the organisers of the planned “April 12 Revolution”, in which public servants and Swazi youth have been called on to rise against Mswati’s autocratic rule.
Mswati is Africa’s last absolute monarch.
“The Swazis’ fear is that this revolution is being brewed from Cosatu House,” the official said.
“Mswati is in a panic… they were shaken by the (anti-government) march (on March 19) and now they fear that the April 12 Revolution will be bigger.”
The official said the Swazi government knew it could not carry out a violent crackdown on its people as donor countries like the US would not allow it.
The first anti-government march took place on March 19 in Mbabane. About 3,000 people, mostly students and public servants, took part.
Organisers are planning an uprising similar to those that toppled regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.
SSN spokesman Lucky Lukhele told the Sunday Times that his group was not surprised by the Swazi government’s move.
He called on South Africa to “ignore” Mswati’s government. “It’s high time SA tells Mswati ‘to hell with you, sort out your own problems’.
“We expect President Jacob Zuma, as he approaches his chairmanship of the (Southern African Development Community) troika in August, to send a clear message to Mswati that SA cannot be used by him,” said Lukhele.
He said that his group’s members had been banned from entering the country.
Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela said: I can only confirm that a meeting took place… I’m not privy to the details and I don’t think we are the appropriate people to deal with it.”
Polela referred further questions to the government of Swaziland.
Swazi government spokesperson Macanjana Motsa said that his country’s police and the government were “not aware of the meeting”.