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EX-MINEWORKERS CIVIC EDUCATION MEETING STOPPED BY POLICE ATTHE INSTRUCTION OF THE AREA’S TRADITIONAL AUTHORITY
The Swaziland National Ex-Mineworkers Association was yesterday stopped from holding its educational meeting in Matsanjeni in the eastern parts of the Shiselweni region. The team that comprised the association’s President and his Coordinator together with the Foundation’s monitoring and evaluating officer were first stopped at a roadblock mounted by the state police a few kilometers away from where the activity was to take place. The car they were driving was searched and upon seeing that nothing seditious was carried by the team, they were released.
On arrival at the venue (Matsanjeni Inkhundla) they found a police car parked at where the meeting was to be held. The organization’s branch coordinator met the team and said that the police were there to stop any meeting that was to be held as there was to be a recruitment session conducted by the country’s army personnel. He said that word from the area’s traditional authority was that no one is allowed to call or hold any meeting when the king has summoned people. It was said that the recruitment activity was commissioned by the king and any activity that counters this is not allowed and the police were there to see to it that nothing happens. The team together with the M&E then decided to hold a short meeting that was to plan for future activities at the same area. It was agreed that our next meeting must be held in a neutral venue outside of the state inkhundla structure. The meeting was then slated for the 17th June 2010.
The M&E then asked the association’s representatives how they view this and the president minced no words in saying that this is a very unfortunate scenario. It shows how inconsiderate the royalty driven tinkhundla system is to the needs of the people. People must always be free to meet and discuss issues that have a direct bearing on their lives at any time and place of their own choosing, the president said. The president said that this will not in anyway deter the association from engaging its membership and the entire people on issues that stall them from exercising their rights and creating democratic awareness.
The Association’s President’s home was yesterday morning (before the Matsanjeni meeting) raided and searched by armed state police officers who said they were acting at the instruction of their superiors. About 15 of them arrived at the early morning hours and knocked, banging the door. The president was awoken by the loud sounds and voices that he heard outside. When he opened the door, he was met by a contingent of armed officers that ordered him in and said they want to search his house. The president demanded a search warrant and upon producing one, he obliged. They searched and took his 1997 calendar that had a photo of the then secretary general of PUDEMO.