Position of the South African Government in respect of the 85-year sentence handed down by the Swaziland Government to activist Amos Mbedzi

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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR WRITTEN REPLY

QUESTION NO: 2915 (NW3595E)

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 34-2012 OF 19 OCTOBER 2012

MR L.S. NGONYAMA (COPE) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION:

  1. Whether the Government has taken any position in respect of the 85-year sentence handed down by the Swaziland government to activist Amos Mbedzi; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;

  2. Whether there are relevant structures within SADC that are designed to attend to citizens’ voices; if not, (a) why not and (b) what is Government’s position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details;

  3. Whether the Government supports the call for democratisation of government in the monarch’s reign in Swaziland; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?

REPLY:

1. The Government of South Africa respects judicial processes of sovereign states.  The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) renders consular assistance to South African citizens arrested abroad in terms of its mandate arising from the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) of 1963, in particular Article 36.

With respect to Mr Amos Mbedzi, the Department has remained seized with this matter since his arrest in September 2008, rendering consular assistance to him as well as facilitating family visits.

2. Yes, the SADC Tribunal has in the past heard cases brought before the court by SADC individuals of a commercial and human rights nature.  The requirement for the Tribunal to hear a case was that all domestic legal processes and channels in a member country have to be exhausted before the case can be considered by the Tribunal.  However, the Extraordinary SADC Summit held in May 2011 in Windhoek, Namibia, suspended the operations of the Tribunal and requested a review of its jurisdiction.

3. Yes, South Africa supports a democratisation process in Swaziland. This includes calling upon all stake-holders to embark on an inclusive and sustainable political dialogue.  The Government of Swaziland is expected to act in a manner consistent with the full implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between the two countries.

South Africa as a member of both SADC and the AU plays the role of initiating and facilitating a political dialogue, in states when sanctioned and mandated to do so by a regional organisation or the larger international community such as the United Nations.  With respect to the latter, South Africa is guided by the UN Charter who’s Article 2.4.  stipulates that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations”.

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