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By Peter Kenworthy, Africa Contact
“At the centre of poverty is the question of power,” Musa Andile Nsibande of the Swaziland Economic Justice Network (SEJUN) tells Africa Contact. “When we tell people to stand up for their rights, there is a possibility that the balance of power will shift towards the masses, paving way for a full democratisation process.”
To this end, the recently formed SEJUN launched a new campaign, Eradicate Poverty and Hunger, last Saturday [February 11.] in Lavumisa. The campaign takes a rights-based approach to economic justice in emphasizing the right to adequate food in a country where two-thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day - many on food aid from the UN, the need for agrarian reform in a country where the absolute monarch in effect controls all land, and the necessity of empowering ordinary people in order to achieve the campaign goals.
The event was attended by an audience of around 400, as well as a range of organisations including the Coordinating Assembly of NGO’s, the Swaziland Ex-Miners Association, the Swaziland National Union of Students and the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice, of which SEJUN is a campaign wing.
“The event was a success,” says Musa Andile Nsibande. “The messages were well received by the target audience and there is a good possibility that the campaign could achieve the changes envisaged.”
Several of the speakers at the campaign launch used the 2008 court victory of the Swaziland Ex-Miners Association against the Swazi government, for its failure to adhere to Swaziland’s constitution’s promise of universal free primary school education, as an example of the potential power of Swaziland’s poor. “The success of the ex-miners has invigorated the marginalized’s search for justice,” says Nsibande.