As I wrote about last week, a proposed secrecy bill has generated strong reactions from various sectors of SA society, concerned about the threat to free speech and the potential silencing of whistleblowers. That the ANC’s two major alliance partners — the South African Community Party and the labor federation, COSATU — have come out publicly on opposite sides of this debate suggests at least that democratic deliberation remains vibrant.
This week almost 50 members of South Africa’s largest labor organization, the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU), joined pro-democracy protests in Swaziland (Sowetan). Following SA’s recent bailout of the Swazi government, interest has grown in the political situation of the tiny kingdom neighbor. And for all sorts of good reasons, organized labor has a vested interest in similar rights being afforded citizens in all countries in the region. (NB: A great book on the strategies and impact of transnational activists is Keck and Sikkink’s Activists Beyond Borders.)
Meanwhile, a Swaziland-based human rights blog reports that King Mswati has cut mobile phone communications for the planned week of protests.
I still have not seen any coverage of the story in any American news outlets. It has been several months since pressure began to mount on the king, and I doubt he has the firepower to seriously contain waves of mass action, should they erupt. His real strength lies with his legitimacy as the traditional ruler of the Swazi nation in a largely homogeneous country.