Monday, July 20, 2009


While the Swaziland media are busy telling us what a success King Mswati III is having on his state visit to Zambia voices of dissent are being raised in the country itself.

The Zambia Post newspaper has attacked its own president Rupiah Banda for inviting the king, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, and for paying public tribute to the king by congratulating him on his ‘wise leadership’ and saying that he ensures ‘that the Swazi people benefit from economic development and actively participate in the election of their representatives in the government’.

The Post isn’t taken in at all. In a long and hard hitting editorial the newspaper says, ‘Mswati is running a tyrannical royal dictatorship in Swaziland’ and calls on the Southern African Development Community ‘to put serious pressure on Mswati for the democratisation of Swaziland’.

Swaziland, it reminds us, is a kingdom where political parties are banned and freedom of association is suppressed. The newspaper called the 2008 elections in Swaziland a ‘daylight fraud’.

The Post says, ‘Whilst the Swazi King was entertained to a state banquet here and enjoyed game viewing in one of our national parks in the company of Rupiah, he has subjected the people of Swaziland to hunger and poverty whilst he and his family enjoy a lavish lifestyle.’

The newspaper goes on to say that while the king and his family enjoy fabulous wealth the majority of Swazi people are poor and do not have access to basic services.

‘Swaziland is a neo-colonial and semi-feudal enclave ruled by an absolute monarchy together with his family. It is a country that is naturally endowed with abundant resources, but is suffering from the crisis of a royal kwashiorkor, called the Tinkhundla system. This system by definition is about the entrenchment of royal hegemony in all spheres of Swazi society, thus turning the people into objects of royal pity and plunder. This is the essence of royal rule, through imposed hegemony, where the King is everything. He is the chancellor of the university, he is the commander-in-chief of the army, he is the patron of thousands of NGOs that front for his hegemony in the name of serving the poor, he is a head of state and more than anything else, a very key businessman, with huge economic interests in every sector of Swazi society.

‘His hands are full of activity that reinforces his greed and entrenches his monopoly over every sphere of Swazi society, not least the economy. This basic truth is important to always remember and recite in order to capture the real essence and structure of Swaziland, and why it is performing. It is obviously suffering from the heavy weight of royal plunder, lack of innovation and creativity, and more than anything else, greed and cancerous corruption, which had permeated every sector of Swazi society and has destroyed its moral fibre.’

And that’s only half of it. To read the full editorial click here.

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