Swaziland’s main opposition People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)
party has condemned the invitation as a sham and an affront to the people of
Swaziland. The opposition party questioned why the government would invite
what it describes as a tyrant to be part of a celebration with
democratically elected heads of state in the region. PUDEMO also questioned
the cost of the planned celebration, which is estimated at 50 million
emalangeni (which is approximatelyÂ $6,5-million).
Some political analysts, however, say Mugabe’s invitation is an attempt by
the Swazi King to make peace with the Zimbabwe leader after he reportedly
offended Mugabe when he chaired a meeting of regional leaders, which called
for Zimbabwe’s election run-off to be postponed. Mario Masuku is the leader
of Swaziland’s opposition party PUDEMO. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from
the capital, Mbabane that most Swazi’s are not pleased with Mugabe’s
“We are not only frowning on the invitation of Robert Mugabe. The
celebrations themselves are unwarranted, it is just a waste of money for the
Swazi nation, but worse still we now believe they are all people of the same
team for King Mswati to invite a dictator that has violated fundamental
human rights of the people of Zimbabwe to be brought here. It is an insult
or adding salt into wounds of the people of Swaziland. Already people of
Swaziland who are poor and unemployed are unhappy about the celebration. But
the invitation of Robert Mugabe is adding salt into the wounds, and as far
as PUDEMO is concerned, we think it is completely unnecessary and an affront
to the fundamental rights of the people,” Masuku noted.
He describes the estimated cost of the planned celebration as completely
unjustified, which he said shows the kings profligacy of spending the
people’s money without caring for the suffering masses.
“I believe that the money could have been used into improving of the stand
of living of the people of Swaziland. Currently, there are people who are
suffering from the drought, people who are unemployed the money could have
gone into improvement of the health facilities, the money could have gone
into the improvement of the education standards of Swaziland. We believe
that the king if he wanted a birthday for himself, he could have done so
from his own resources, but not from the people’s taxes,” he said.
Masuku said PUDEMO is against what he described as callous lavishness.
“One thing that PUDEMO is saying, and I think it must be understood that we
do not approve such extravagance expenditures against poverty. If the king
has decided to invite his friends, you would identify what kind of
government or head of state he is by inviting similar kinds of heads of
state. Any dictator would invite a dictator to go to table with him, and
therefore, we believe that if push had come to shove, definitely, the
government of wouldn’t and Swaziland shouldn’t have invited people like
Robert Mugabe to come here and mingle with democratic heads of state if ever
that 40 years of celebrations are worthwhile to celebrate,” Masuku pointed
Masuku adds that it was about time the Swazi government comes around
genuinely to discuss ways of transforming the country into a democracy.
VOAPost published in: News