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COSATU blockade is on today

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MBABANE – Despite assurances by Foreign Affairs Minister Lutfo Dlamini, the border blockade by COSATU is going ahead today.

COSATU is the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the blockade is scheduled for Ngwenya (Oshoek) Border Post. This forms part of the Swaziland Campaign Strategy by the trade union movement, as well as other civic groups based in South Africa who sympathise with those calling for multi-party democracy in the kingdom. The decision to stage the blockade is another one of the activities planned for the Global Days of Action on Swaziland, which began on Monday and ends this Sunday.
br/> The activities are meant to put pressure on the Swazi government to enact reforms in the way the Swazi populace is governed. These reforms include the unconditional release of PUDEMO President Mario Masuku, unbanning of political parties and the removal of Swaziland from its chairmanship of the Southern African Development (SADC) Troika on politics, defence and security.
br/> “September 6th marks 41 years of Swaziland’s independence from British colonial rule. Unfortunately, for the majority of Swazis, independence rings hollow and is evidenced by the fact that 70 per cent of the one million population lives in abject poverty earning less than one US dollar a day. Up to 600 000 people had to receive some form of food aid in the past 18 months to fend off starvation.
br/> “HIV/AIDS has taken a heavy toll, with more than 40 per cent of the population believed to be infected. In Swaziland, one in three girls has experienced sexual violence by the age of 18. (About) 22 per cent of Swazi women between ages of 15 and 24 are HIV positive. Life expectancy has plummeted to one of the lowest in the world: 40 years (men), 39 years (women) (UN),” states a statement from the organisations behind the blockade.
br/> The organisations called on all South Africans, Swazis and people living in the region to support today’s event. Transport for those interested will be provided from Johannesburg and the Mpumalanga region. On Tuesday, Dlamini assured senators that the blockade would not go on as the Swazi government had engaged its South African counterparts on the matter. He said border posts were international facilities and no individual or single organisation had the right to close them.

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