Monday, December 04, 2006

Swaziland - African fairytale gone wrong?

Reposting this because tech problems previously would not show published text even wen published, just the headline. Don't know why.


Swaziland: a fairytale gone wrong?

When we relate stories of heroic kings and princes, beautiful and kind queens and princesses to our children, we tend to forget that in real life, things are not so simple.

How do you explain to an African child, who probably does not have access to even the most basic resources that Western children take for granted, that the way African royalty is structured, and the inequitable distribution of wealth, is okay?

How do you differentiate between wealthy kings and queens of fairytales, and the real-life royalty that their own parents are angry with because of the burden they are to their subjects?

How do you read, with a very straight face - Long, long time ago, there lived a beautiful and kind queen called XYAV - when your own experiences have led you to believe that real-life royalty in your country is not working for the best interests of the people?

The media release below arrived in my inbox as part of my daily work-related mail, but it got me thinking about the real-life stories that are being enacted in Africa even as we speak, and the contrast between fairytales and the African child's experience today.



It is common in Swaziland to wake up and hear that people have been savagely brutalized by the agents of the absolute monarchy. What is of great surprise is the fact that such uncivilized and inhuman acts are committed before the eyes of a silent world.

Without repeating the story as it appears in the Swazi newspapers (04-12-2006), As a nation, we are compelled to ask the SADC Region, the AU and NEPAD, meaning our own African people – why this silence when a nation is bleeding and dying under absolute royal rule? Why this quite diplomacy when a whole nation is burning on fire under the command of a dictator? How do Africa and the world expect the people of Swaziland to react before such criminal and barbaric atrocities? In other words, we asking Africa why have you abandon us?


From the Independence Day in 1968, the royal family, assisted by the British Government in London, robbed the people of Swaziland their freedom and liberty. This family sits on the shoulders of the poor-peasantry working masses of Swaziland as a huge socio-economic and political burden.

In the last 38 years of the history of the people of Swaziland, the poor-peasantry working masses of this country have carried the royal family in their shoulders as a huge mass of parasites that live on the labour and sweat of the poor.

The royal family, apart form being a huge burden to the nation, it is the source of all misery suffered by the people of Swaziland. The act of the absolute monarchy has disgusted and destroyed the life of the this nation.


The genesis of the Swazi conflict can be traced in the nature of the absolute monarchy state, created in 1973. So any solution to the national question is possible only if the relationship between the absolute monarchy and the masses; and if the absolute person of the king, whose voice and acts constitute the law of the country is understood.

Ironically, there are those who find sense in such social abnormalities. This then provokes another set of questions – how is it possible that this world can be quite before such social illness? How can the Africa continent, which is advocating for peace be so quite before such a putrefied social order? To be direct, how can the Republic of South Africa and Mozambique be so quite before a neighbour state that is a threat to peace in the region? Surely all this seeks to point out that there is a problem somewhere.


1. Absolute Monarchism: the absolute authority and person of the monarchy, is a manifestation of royal dictatorship. This practice is against the principles of democracy and human rights.

2. Royal monopoly of power: the supreme powers vested to the absolute monarchy result into the creation of an authoritarian-nepotic regime, that marginalizes the poor-peasantry non-royal Swazis through a socio-economical and political segregation of a special type, masked in a distorted culture manoeuvred by the royal conservatives in order to deceive the traditionally blindfolded masses of Swaziland and the international community to perceive injustice as justice.

3. Royal oppression: the monarchy driven tinkhundla system of governance rigidly and with resistance denies the people of Swaziland their fundamental rights – the right of the freedom of association, the right of the freedom of expression, the right of the freedom of assembly and the right to self-determination as opposed to royal dictatorship and authoritarian monarchism.

4. Royal abuse of state resources: the royal family, in particular the king of Swaziland, live in a pool of luxury ignoring the plights of the majority poor people of Swaziland. Through royal institutions such as Tibiyo, the royal family controls, accumulates and waste state resources.

5. Lack of the rule of law: disrespect of the rule of law is characteristic of the absolute monarchy regime. The absolute monarchy is law unto itself and respects no law as the monarchy is above the judiciary, legislature and the executive, with powers to veto any legitimate decision taken by these bodies.

6. Resistance to democracy: the royal conservatives reject democracy and labelled it "foreign ideas", "un-Swazi" and "undesirable" for the people of Swaziland. The royal regime promotes and defends the agenda of one-man rule as opposed to majority rule.

7. Land and exploitation of the non-royal Swazis: by virtue of being king, all the land of Swaziland is the property of the king, which is then used to intimidate, silence, harass, suppress and dominate the poor-peasantry masses of Swaziland. Those who resist the monarchy's domination are evicted from the soil of the king. Non-royal Swazis are forced to render unpaid labour to the farms of the king; this is a special type of social exploitation protected under a distorted concept of "Swazi culture" which encourage and protect forced labour.

8. Bad governance: the royal regime has failed to cultivate and promote the values and principles of good-governance, measurable through the principles of accountability and transparency. The absolute monarchy regime is accountable to the royal family and not to the nation; therefore, it acts by itself for itself.

9. Dual system of governance: parallel traditional and western system of governance is a source of confusion in identifying the centre of political power in Swaziland. This allows the absolute monarchy a free space to committee injustice under customary laws that are not codified anywhere, but verbally spoken and when such are in conflict with the interest of the monarchy, the regime apply the western system to defend its position.

10. Patriarchism and culture: the monarchy promotes patriarch practices in Swaziland; this practice creates gender inequality. Pro-democracy forces reject patriarchism as an uncivilized practice that discriminate women and girl children in the society. The monarchy regime has failed to promote a good and dynamic culture that must save the people of Swaziland with dignity and respect.

11. Violation of human rights: the monarchy regime has committed atrocities against the democratic will of the majority non-royal people of Swaziland, these atrocities are characterized by denial of the freedom of speech, association and assembly, victimization, harassment and intimidation of political leaders, state brutality and arbitrary arrest of activists and evictions.

12. Disrespect for human life and dignity: the royal state has failed to promote respect for human life and the dignity of the citizens of Swaziland; it is an insensible, irresponsible and a merciless state, only concern about royal affairs, it has failed to prevent loss of life from hunger, poverty, curable diseases, HIV/AIDS, poor sanitation conditions, among other things, instead it has created and deepen these conditions by being wasteful and greedy.

12. Corruption: the monarchy state is constituted on a failing administration system that is characterized by brutal corruption, abuse and waste of tax-payers funds. This has deepened poverty in Swaziland, leaving the vulnerable groups being acutely disadvantaged, without a hope any meaningful future.

13. Poverty: while it is correct to say that Swaziland does not have natural resources, it depends on subsistence farming, and that the decline of sugar price has affected the GDP, it must be accepted that corruption, royal greediness and wasteful practices are the direct cause of poverty in Swaziland, inappropriate allocation of state-funds into non-priority royal projects is a contributing factor to the escalating state of poverty in the country.

14. Unemployment: the current status core in Swaziland have no capacity to attract direct foreign investment, it has no capacity to generate jobs as funds are directed to petty royal projects, instead of sustainable job creation programmes.

15. HIV / AIDS: the absolute monarchy regime has failed to develop a comprehensive management programme for HIV and AIDS that is inclusive of preventive, care, support and ARV treatment. Until in the recent years, the absolute regime of Swaziland has been denying the use of condoms as "unSwazi", or "uncultural". This has resulted into a serious and fast spread of the HIV pandemic.

16. Violation of girl-child's and women's rights. Royal practice of "girl-child abduction" is the violation of Child's and the violation of women's rights, unacceptable in any modern society. It is one of the most primitive practices that are clearly practiced by a primitive family.

17. The royal constitution and the Swazi conflict: The Swazi conflict cannot be resolved through reformists and fraudulent process such as the royally made constitution. This constitution shall continue to be the source of conflict because its making process violated four major universal principles namely:

* Inclusiveness: the process was not people driven; it discriminated against social formation for democratic change and was conducted under hostile environment.
*Transparency: the process failed to respect the principles of openness; it was censored and intimidatory.
* Participatory: group submissions were not allowed, civic education was omitted and this resulted into submissions out of context.
* Accountability: the facilitators of the process were not accountable to the people, except to the king and the royal government.


In the absence of royal willingness to respect the rest of the people of Swaziland and reach a negotiated resettlement through dialogue, SADC, mainly the Republic of South Africa and Mozambique have the responsibility to make sure that peace in Swaziland is protected but not at the expense of the bleeding nation before a silent world. The crisis in Swaziland can not be left at the hands of the absolute monarchy alone to decide as when it should be resolved, but it is high time that the world, mainly SADC member states take interest in this matter before it is too long.

For more information contact

Dr. GT Mkhumane
PUDEMO Chief representative for Africa and the Caribbean
cell: 082 707 8384

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