afrol News, 4 October - In South Africa, the disgust with Swaziland's totalitarian King Mswati III is spreading. A trade union-led campaign to condemn and isolate the Swazi regime is now getting wider support, including from the Church and the ruling ANC.
South Africa's powerful trade union COSATU for years has stood up for its Swazi colleagues. Unionism is illegal in the kingdom, along with political parties and opposition to the King.
COSATU has increasingly sought provocation. It hosts and finances the Swaziland Solidarity Network, a main source of international information about rights abuses in the kingdom. But the union also assists underground Swazi unionists; organises protests inside and outside Swaziland; sends in protesters; and even has blocked the Swazi border.
Only last month, several South African trade unionists streamed into Swaziland to participate in a pro-democracy protest. Several were stopped at the border and sent back. Others were detained by Swazi police and some report being beaten up. COSATU, it seems, is as war with the Swazi regime.
But the South African trade union is not driven by fundamentalist actionists in its campaign against Swaziland. The campaign is getting a steadily growing support in the entire Southern African region.
Within South Africa's ruling ANC party, to which COSATU is affiliated, several groupings have already given their full support to the anti-Swaziland campaign. Both the Communist fraction and the Youth League now support the demand to "expose and isolate" the Swaziland "monarchist dictatorship" on an international level.
Last week, the ANC announced it was to engage in a "full discussion" on the situation in Swaziland. Sue van der Merwe, chairperson of the ANC committee on international relations, said more and more leading ANC members had "strong" feelings about the deteriorating human rights situation in the kingdom.
And there are reasons to believe that the ANC's more sceptical look towards Swaziland may result in tougher government action. One important indication is steadily more repeated "fact" that the situation in Swaziland in "worse than in Zimbabwe."
Fractions sceptical towards South African action against Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe - holding that this would mean "bowing down to the demands of the Western world" - note that there is basically no Western pressure to act on Swaziland. Action against Swaziland instead of Zimbabwe, which could be seen as a correction to Western policies, could unite the nation.
The call for action against Swaziland meanwhile is starting to become a popular demand. This weekend, even the Bishops of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa noted that the human rights situation in Swaziland was worse than in Zimbabwe.
The Anglican Bishops could "not remain silent" on the issue of democracy in Swaziland, "where power and wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, and political debate is hardly permitted," their statement reads. They challenged church members to "become more involved in the quest for democracy in Swaziland."
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