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Cablegate: Trade Unions Challenge Swazi Democracy, Make Comparisons

R 130916Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MBABANE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3192
INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

UNCLAS MBABANE 000244


DEPT FOR AF/S (MHARRIS)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ELAB ETRD KDEM WZ ZI
SUBJECT: TRADE UNIONS CHALLENGE SWAZI DEMOCRACY, MAKE COMPARISONS
TO ZIMBABWE

1. SUMMARY: On July 21, the Southern African Trade Union
Coordinating Council (SATUCC), a regional labor umbrella
organization, called for a boycott of goods destined for Zimbabwe
and Swaziland. On August 10-11, the Congress of South African Trade
Unions (COSATU), a SATUCC member, hosted a Zimbabwe-Swaziland
Solidarity Conference that explored scenarios for achieving
democratic change. COSATU is trying to capitalize on the
international attention Zimbabwe is receiving by linking it with
Swaziland's democratic shortcomings. COSATU is preparing a hostile
reception for King Mswati III (HMK) and President Mugabe at the
August 16-17 SADC Heads of State Summit in Johannesburg. COSATU has
also announced plans for a week long boycott of goods destined for
Swaziland and Zimbabwe in September. END SUMMARY

ZIMBABWE-SWAZILAND SOLIDARITY CONFERENCE

2. On August 10, COSATU hosted the Zimbabwe-Swaziland Solidarity
Conference in South Africa. The conference concluded with a vague
and undefined strategy for targeting the Government of the Kingdom
of Swaziland (GKOS). COSATU Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi
described HMK and the Swazi monarchy as an extension of British
colonial control. COSATU SecGen Vavi has repeatedly announced that
HMK and President Mugabe are not welcome in South Africa, and wide
spread protests are planned upon their arrival in South Africa for
the August 16-17 SADC Heads of State Summit in Johannesburg. COSATU
sees this as the beginning of a "sustainable solidarity offensive"
against King Mswati III and President Mugabe, and has created a SADC
Campaign Coordinating Committee to manage the effort. Their goal is
to isolate the leaders through a "sustained, massive" publicity
campaign. COSATU will also oppose and lobby against the election of
Swaziland to the SADC Chair of the Organ on Politics, Security and
Defense.

IMPLICATIONS OF BOYCOTT ON SWAZILAND

3. COSATU announced on August 12 that it is planning a week-long
boycott of goods destined for Zimbabwe and Swaziland in September.
Regarding the scope of the boycott, COSATU international secretary
Bongani Masuku told EmbOff on August 13 that it could include
electricity, since Swaziland imports this commodity. It is likely
that COSATU will try to hold the boycott in the first week of
September during the 40/40 national celebrations. Several regional
heads of state are expected in Swaziland on September 5-6 for the
celebrations, and the disruptions caused by a boycott would be
highly embarrassing to GKOS and HMK. COSATU demonstrated that it is
capable of mobilizing the region and confronting any actor or
government in April, with refusal to unload the An Yue Jiang, the
ship carrying Chinese arms destined for Zimbabwe.. Swaziland --
land-locked, importing 80 percent of its food from South Africa,
reliant on South Africa and Mozambique for electricity, and without
any strong regional allies -- is a "soft" target. Any transport
boycott will have tremendous and immediate consequences.

4. COMMENT: The attention of Southern African trade organizations
towards Swaziland is likely a by-product of the massive regional
mobilization against the Government of Zimbabwe. Should COSATU and
SATUCC mobilize any type of commercial transport boycott, the
implications for Swaziland would be tremendous and impossible for
GKOS and King Mswati to ignore, and would necessitate immediate
resolution. With Swaziland on the eve of elections and 40/40
national celebrations, it is especially vulnerable to international
criticism and negative attention. Post will immediately advise as
situation develops and more information becomes available.


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