Swaziland has become an ‘open-air prison, a militarised society and a royal farm’ in which people become mere farmworkers for the King and his family, according to new research published in an international academic journal.
‘The autocratic system parasitically feeds off the labour of the poor, whose primary reason for existence is to work for the royal family and reproduce future workers of the same’, Bongani Masuku and Peter Limb conclude.
Masuku and Limb say that the education system in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is in decline and only 6 percent of high school graduates go on to further education.
‘The aim appears to be to deny wider educational opportunities and discourage various forms of critical thinking and action so that more and more people see success tied to the mercy of the King, whose propaganda is pushed on state-owned radio and exploited in cultural spheres,’ they write in the Review of African Political Economy.
They say, ‘Many rural areas lack basic services such as clean water, health facilities, schools and roads whilst the royal family and its politicians enjoy lavish lifestyles.’
Masuku, the International Relations Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and Limb, of the Michigan State University, United States, analyse the present state of ‘political freedom and democracy’ in Swaziland.
They say the monarchy ‘exercises absolute power’ through the system of governance known as tinkhundla. The royal family controls key economic sectors and has its ‘footstalls’ in the form of chiefs at community levels.
They add that key appointments of power are exclusively the King’s prerogative. ‘He appoints the prime minister, chief justice, principal secretaries and political commissions. State legal immunity, absence of political parties and suppression of the media and civil society undermine the rule of law and accountability.’