File photo: Swaziland's King Mswati III

Johannesburg - The African National Congress on Tuesday called for Swaziland, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarchy, to be referred to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for abuse of human rights and suppression of dissent and political activity.

Swaziland’s Suppression of Terrorism Act, which has been used by government to ban political groups opposing King Mswati’s rule, was last year declared unconstitutional by the country’s High Court.

Government used the Suppression of Terrorism Act to ban the People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo) in 2008. 

The party's president, Mario Masuku, still awaits trial after being charged with treason for publicly uttering the name of his organisation at a May Day rally in 2014. 

The Terrorism Act forbids public mention of a proscribed entity such as Pudemo or the Swaziland Youth Congress (Swayoco).

Reporting back on the outcomes of the international relations commission at the ANC national policy conference, chairperson Miriam Segabutla said the people of Swaziland were suffering "gross human rights violation".

"The commission reflected on the nature of the Swazi monarchy, where the King wields executive, judicial and legislative power. It further discussed that the people of Swaziland still suffer gross human rights violation, as well as reflected on a status of political activity of Swayoco and that are now prescribed under the anti-Terrorism Act," Segabutla said.

"Accordingly, the commission recommended that the 53rd resolution of the Mangaung Conference on Swaziland be implemented, and further recommended that the ANC explore mechanisms of strengthening it solidarity campaign on Swaziland and that we formalise the party-to-party relations with Pudemo.

"But also support the call by the people of Swaziland for the unbanning of political parties and the release of all political prisoners, and that the issue of Swaziland be placed before SADC for intervention."

Meanwhile, Segabutla said the ANC had called on government to intervene in the ongoing Western Sahara conflict between the Polisario Front and the Kingdom of Morocco.  

"The commission reaffirmed the resolution on continuous engagement with the African Union and the United Nations on speedy resolution of the Western Sahara issue by Morocco, and to call for a referendum to determine the Sahara's self determination," Segabutla said.

"The commission recommended that the ANC organise a study tour to Western Shaara to educate ANC cadres and the broader society about the plight of the people of Western Sahara. It further recommended that the ANC should call for the government to appoint a special envoy to Western Sahara."

On Sunday, the AU Executive Council reaffirmed, at the end of its 31st session held since Friday in the Ethiopian capital, its support to the Sahrawi cause by confirming the dispatch of an African mission for the evaluation of human rights to the occupied Sahrawi territories despite Morocco’s attempts to block a resolution in this regard. 

 African News Agency