Swaziland's leading newspaper at the weekend condemned South Africa and several South African organisations for trying to involve themselves in Swaziland's internal affairs.
The Times of Swaziland said in an editorial in its Sunday edition it found this interference by "the New South Africa" as offensive as was interference by the apartheid South African government.
The newspaper was reacting to alleged interference in Swaziland's continuing labour and political problems by the African National Congress, SA Communist Party, Congress of SA Trade Unions, SA National Civics Organisation and the National Council of Trade Unions, as well as the South African government. Swazi journalists believe that the article in the newspaper - one of the Swazi government's most outspoken critics - summed up the feeling of most Swazis that South Africa was throwing its weight around.
The Swaziland Government and the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, the largest labour organisation in the kingdom, are locked in a simmering dispute about several labour and political demands that produced an eight-day national strike last month.
The SFTU has called another national strike for February 19 in order to pressure the government to unban political parties and allow free political activity.
The ANC, SACP, Cosatu, Sanco and Nactu drafted a letter to Swaziland's High Commissioner in Pretoria expressing concern about the situation in Swaziland and condemning the absence of democracy in the kingdom.
The Times, while acknowledging that Swaziland was facing serious political problems, said this was nevertheless an internal issue that could best be resolved by Swazis themselves.
In a reference to a meeting of South African foreign affairs officials to discuss the Swazi issue last week, the newspaper wrote:
"Just one stayaway, and South Africa now believes that the Kingdom is such a threat to South Africa and to regional stability that it feels it should start being involved?"
The newspaper said allegations by the AWB that the South African Government and its allies had organised the national stayaway now appeared to have some truth in them. South Africa was the last place to which Swaziland should look as an example of sustainable peace and stability, the newspaper said, citing unremitting political killings in KwaZulu-Natal.
"Why South Africans believe they have anything to teach Swazis about political harmony is really strange. If anything, they are the ones who can benefit by visiting Swaziland for lessons of peaceful existence..."
The Times, the kingdom's only privately-owned newspaper, is a frequent critic of the government of King Mswati III. The newspaper has often called for meaningful change in Swaziland, but, like many of its readers, it always condemns interference by outsiders in the country's internal affairs.
Swaziland is the only southern African country where political parties remain banned. Mswati's father, King Sobhuza II, proscribed all political activity in 1973, when he issued a decree suspending the 1968 Westminster-style independence constitution.
Last Monday, Mswati told British Overseas Development Minister Lynda Chalker that the suspended 1968 constitution would soon be revived. It was the first time he had given any indication that he was considering allowing free political activity.