By Themba Khumalo

For over five decades, the tiny and despotic kingdom of Eswatini attracted little or no attention in international political affairs, save for heightening the curiosity of social anthropologists.
Lately though, an exceptional blend of internal and external circumstances has reshaped the kingdom’s political landscape.
As the last stronghold of absolute monarchy in sub-Saharan Africa, Eswatini is experiencing the power of the political tempests that are sweeping through the continent.
EmaSwati want a government that has the political will and commitment to change socio-economic policies to encourage growth and common prosperity. They yearn for a government that will act in the interests of its citizens.
For this to happen, there must be a democratic government that is based on the rule of law.
This unfortunately, scares the royal hell out of the brutal and clown king who is referred to as King Mswati III. Mswati’s regime is hell-bent on pulverising dissension.
The despot seems to see it as his royal blessing to deny civil, political, economic and social rights to emaSwati.
Trade unionists, human rights champions, social and political activists have been subjected to lethal force by the police and the army.
He has soiled his royal pants, took them off and opted for the brutalisation of those who are calling for change. He has chosen to intensify the state of brutality.
State violence in Eswatini includes restriction of the freedom of speech, jailing of activists, torture and all hues of cruelty. The most vocal activists live under the threat of being executed, just like the apartheid system used to do in South Africa.
Arbitrary arrests, refusal of fair trials and the carrying out of unfair trials based on trumped up charges have become too common. The inexplicable disappearance of prodemocracy activists, the physical and psychological terrorisation such as death threats or the threat of persecution, have become useful tools for Mswati and his colony of greedy bootlickers.
The dimwits, who dance naked for benefits from the king, would like us to believe those who are calling for change are a threat to the kingdom. They have labelled them as terrorists in order to justify the state’s brutality. What a sickening truckload of drivel: “protecting the state”.
How are dehumanised people calling for constitutional transformation, comprising the unbanning of political parties, the right to elect a prime minister who will be accountable to the emaSwati, as well as better public services and an end to police brutality, become a threat to the kingdom?
The editor of an online publication, The Swaziland News, Zweli Martin Dlamini who also has been branded a terrorist, summed up the current mood when he wrote: “The state-controlled and captured media has been parading him (Mswati) as a symbol of peace and stability, but the reality on the ground, proved by videos of royal police violence against the people suggests that the King is a symbol of oppression and dictatorship.
“It should be noted that the King has been described as a unifying figure, perhaps that’s what a majority of Swazis, including me, expected him to be, but the reality is that King Mswati represents an apartheid government and a royal supremacy that created a monopoly of ‘intelligence’ among the Dlaminis to hold the position of prime minister.
“When we describe the King as a unifying figure, we shouldn’t do so to please him, some of us don’t exist to please King Mswati who deprived highly capable Swazis an opportunity to serve the nation as prime ministers just because they were not Dlaminis.
“It is for these reasons we are calling for a democratic government where the people would elect their own prime minister or president without any political discrimination. We can’t surrender our intelligence and capabilities to a man whose thinking capacity remains questionable.”
The brain-deprived knuckle draggers probably got more peeved when Zwemart, as the editor is fondly called, opine: “The only option we have now is to give him an endless political headache and make him feel like he is living in exile in his own glittering palaces.
“Swazis must not allow the King to enjoy peace while killing innocent civilians, the calls for democratic reforms must be intensified for him to understand that we are human beings who deserve to live in a democratic country.”
In August 1995, political ramblings sent shock waves through the royal den, forcing Mswati to pay the late President Nelson Mandela a visit to assure him that everything was under control eSwatini.
During the said visit the tyrannical ruler informed Mandela that emaSwati did not want political parties and were comfortable with the Tinkhundla.
This was a blatant lie, the general population has never been comfortable with a traditional councils system of government, which has no provisions for opposition politics.
If they were comfortable, the political earthquakes that have shaken that country would not have happened.
The state of human rights Eswatini has gone downhill at blindingly dangerous speed.
Mswati and his hyenas do not give a constitutional damn about human rights. Instead, they have weaponised law enforcement and legal instruments to suppress calls for justice and democratic reform.
A report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has declared Eswatini to be among the world’s 10 worst countries for workers in 2022.
Part of the report states: “Eswatini descended into a spiral of violence and repression as 2021 pro-democracy protests were met with extreme police brutality. Police and government forces killed at least 72 protestor, hundreds more were injured and others detained, while some remained missing.
“Some activists have gone into hiding and others have fled into exile. Freedom of speech and assembly were heavily curtailed as, later in the year, other marches and strikes were violently repressed by police, who used live rounds, rubber bullets, tear gas and batons to disperse protesters. At least three workers were shot dead and many more severely injured.”
Then, there is the moribund Southern African Development Community (SADC) which has failed to provide proper leadership to avert worst-case scenarios… an armed insurrection or worse a bloody civil war…something that is good for the country and the region.
“Unfortunately, the wires in the heads of the big kahunas at the SADC are malfunctioning hence the failure to hear people who are saying, “enough is enough now. We will achieve our freedom by any means necessary.”
You do not have to be a genius to notice that the SADC is laden with a flaccid and lumbering bureaucracy that seems to have been created to suffocate plans than implementing them.
The SADC was correctly criticised for failing to handle the situation Eswatini in a mature manner. The weaklings failed to pay appropriate attention to the demands of Mswati’s critics.
Their meek and belated efforts to stabilise the kingdom have yielded zilch because Mswati has not shown sincere interest to hold court with discontented citizens.

SADC Protocol
The prevailing conditions eSwatini compel the SADC not only to be seen as an honest broker, but also an organisation that is committed to defending the rights of its member states’ citizens.
SADC lackeys must get off their backsides and set in motion mechanisms specifically deal with the challenges ESwatini. They must have the requisite testicular fortitude to be assertive with Mswati.
They are his peers and must stop pussyfooting around him. They must demand a national dialogue conducted by SADC, not the palace of deaf hyenas.
The organisation’s Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation has it welded to the advancement of democracy and safeguarding human rights.
The SADC has for a long time been bedevilled by ineptitude and a tradition of ignoring gross violations of socio-economic and political rights in member states. They couldn’t be bothered that this tradition has had an adverse impact on regional development.
Our challenges as a region are taking a turn for the worst and the time has for a more efficient and vibrant organisation is now. Citizens of Southern Africa can do with the termination of the age of pretentious muteness and staved off scrutiny when member states violate the rights of their citizens.
It can no longer be business as usual because there has been a massive betrayal of the democratic aspirations of emaSwati and the SADC’s own claimed values.

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