Top Swazi Rights Defender Calls For SADC Probe Into Dzamara Abduction

By Mlondolozi Ndlovu

Harare, April 23, 2016 – A prominent Swazi rights defender, Maxwell Dlamini (pictured) has joined on-going demands for the release of abducted pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara.

Maxwell Dlamini (27), the firebrand former Swaziland National Students Union leader, is currently in the country for a familiarisation tour organised by Youth Forum Zimbabwe.

The programme focuses on the challenges faced by youth and student activists in the two southern African countries in a bid to share notes in the fight against oppressive regimes.

“We are concerned about the loss of young people who demand accountability from their leaders,” Dlamini told journalists at a press briefing in Harare on Friday.

“As Swaziland citizens, we will demand his (Dzamara) release in the region and call for campaigns for his release and other political prisoners.”

Dzamara, a journalist turned firebrand pro-democracy activist, was seized by suspected state agents from a barbershop near his Harare home March last year after fronting a number of demonstrations with a few like-minded colleagues to demand for “failed” Mugabe to resign.

Government has professed ignorance as to what may have befallen the father of two but opposition parties and civic groups all insist the state knew where he was.

Dlamini, who is also executive council member of the opposition PIDEMO, called for the formation of a SADC commission to investigate the case of the missing Zimbabwean activist.

“We also call for the release of political prisoners. SADC should set up a commission to look into the issue of Itai Dzamara and bring the man to his family.”

Dlamini also said he was working with other youths from across the region for the revival of the Southern African Students Union (SASU) in a bid to bring solidarity to students fighting regimes in the region.

He called for solidarity among Zimbabwean youths and students saying they was need for youths to fight for the common good.

“Our solutions are no longer with the old people,” he said.

“The challenges we face in Swaziland are the same with those you face in Zimbabwe; for example, in Swaziland we have an absolute monarchy whilst in Zimbabwe you have a monarchy that you renew every 5 years,” he added.

Zimbabwean and Swazi regimes bear striking similarities after leaders of both southern African nations have often been accused of trampling on their people’s rights.

Under King Mswati III who has incarcerated members of the opposition and rights activists, Swaziland is seen fitting into the autocratic state status that has been alleged of Zimbabwe under Mugabe.

Dlamini himself has been arrested several times and tortured in his country for his activism against oppression, including a 2014 terrorism charge for allegedly criticising Mswati.

 

His sacrifices have however been recognised as he in 2013 received the All-Africa Students’ Union’s 2013 Student Activist Award, for ”the role he has played in Swazi and African students’ movements.