Repression merely delays inevitable end of Swazi regime
13 April 2011
The Times (South Africa) Editorial: The sooner the Swaziland government realises that the country cannot silence the voices of democracy and perpetually be an island of absolute monarchy the better.
Even the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe allows for opposition parties to operate, albeit under repressive conditions.
It seems that King Mswati's regime believes that it can eternally suppress its people's yearning for democracy despite evidence to the contrary, especially the recent fall of other, much mightier, autocratic regimes in North Africa and the Middle East.
The arrogance of Swaziland's rulers was well demonstrated yesterday when, a day after cracking down on pro-democracy protesters, the foreign affairs minister, Lutfo Dlamini, convened a press conference to boast about how his government had succeeded in silencing its critics.
Despite evidence to the contrary, Dlamini painted the kingdom as a peaceful place where political activity is unrestricted. He blamed Tuesday's (12 April 2011) protests on "outside agitators" with evil intentions.
As South Africans, we have heard this kind of propaganda before. Not least from our very own apartheid-era rulers, who used violence against pro-democracy groups while blaming it all on outside agitators.
That strategy didn't work for South Africa's apartheid-era rulers and it will certainly not work for King Mswati and his cohorts.
His army and police might have succeeded in putting down the rebellion this week, but the conditions of abject poverty under which many Swazis live, as well as ever-rising unemployment, mean that it is only a matter of time before his country is hit by a massive revolt that the state will not be able to stop.
If King Mswati is to prevent such an uprising, he should immediately enter into talks with all the key stakeholders in the country with a view to establishing a democratic order.
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