Monday, April 30, 2012


More than four in 10 Swazi people disapprove of King Mswati III’s leadership, a new Gallup opinion poll reveals. 

The news will surprise many observers of the kingdom, where King Mswati reigns as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, as local media continually report that all Swazis love their king.

Gallup interviewed 1,000 adults aged over 15, face-to-face, in Swaziland between 13 and 21 November, 2011 as part of a survey into attitudes to leaders conducted across the world. The results have just been released.

Gallup found that 43 percent of the people interviewed answered Disapprove and 56 percent, Approve, to the question: Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of King Mswati?

The Swazi Government came out worse than the king. Asked about approval of the kingdom’s leadership more generally, 40 percent approved and 56 percent disapproved.


A bitter row has been raging in various parts of the Internet these past few days after Peter Kenworthy wrote suggesting that some prodemocracy activists exaggerated how close Swaziland was to revolution.

Kenworthy was attacked, not so much for his ideas, but because he has an affiliation with the Africa Contact NGO in Denmark.

Many of his critics were not concerned about his argument but sought to denounce Africa Contact, an organisation with a long record of working for democracy in Swaziland and elsewhere.

The fact that these people attacked the organisation is no surprise. Many of them are constantly doing this. They are most concerned that the organisation that they are affiliated to is seen to be purer than other groups that are also campaigning for democracy.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network Google forum regularly carries these attacks.

This past weekend, for example, one poster, wrote that NGOs (non-government organisations) are ‘in the last analysis, the willing carriers of neo-colonialism. Certainly they are reactionary counter-revolutionary and anti-communist. They will always be with us. They are like the tick-birds on the revolutionary buffalo.’

Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of Swazi people who will rely on food donated through NGOs to stop from starving this year.

Some of these posters also personally denounce anyone who opposes the purity of the organisation they themselves are part of. Partly because of this there are now so many prodemocracy organisations around Swaziland it is impossible for anyone not intimately involved in factional politics to understand what they stand for. What really are the differences when it comes to the desire for democracy between, say, the SUDF, SSN, SNUS, SNAT, SFL, SFTU, SDM. CPS, PUDEMO ….?

I am inevitably reminded of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, a 1979 film that imagines that an ordinary man who is mistaken for Jesus and spends his life trying to convince people he is not the Messiah. At one point he meets up with a group of revolutionaries, intent on fighting Roman occupation in Judea.

Watch the clip below and tell me that you can’t see similarities with Swaziland today.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


The Swaziland National Union of Students has attacked the Swaziland Solidarity Network and its official spokesperson Lucky Lukhele following SSN’s handling of criticism about the organisation’s exaggerated claims concerning the support it has from Swazis for its call for revolution in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

It follows an Internet blogpost by Peter Kenworthy on his stiffkitten site, in which he drew attention to exaggerated claims being made by SSN and some other prodemocracy groups. Kenworthy is also associated with Africa Contact, a Danish-based NGO

Lukhele responded with what SNUS calls ‘bile’.

The SNUS statement was posted on its Facebook site. Here it is in full


The Swaziland National Union of Students is amazed and angry at the bile spewed by one self-imposed exile called Lucky Lukhele.

This is so because, due to intellectually malnutrition, he failed to read and understand the article written by one internationalist and true solidarity friend of the oppressed people of Swaziland, Peter titled  ‘’the democratic movement that cried wolf’’.

This is so because had he been clever and intelligence enough, he would had seen that the article was a constructive criticism of the broad, mass democratic movement in Swaziland.

Truth be told, the students movement do not take kindly to the unwarranted attack of Africa Contact especially when the president of the students union, Maxwell Dlamini is dragged into the attack. We want to put on record that Africa Contact did contacted SNUS about the release Maxwell campaign and explained why they wanted to use him as the face of all political prisoners.

Had he taken time to read about the struggle of South Africa, he would have known that the ANC did the same thing with Nelson Mandela. It is not that ANC was neglecting the other political prisoners but they wanted to focus on a particular person to profile correctly the struggle of South Africans.

But we can’t blame Lucky, he wasn’t good in history that why he is suffering from the political intellectually dehydration. Had Lucky understood the struggle in general, he would have known that you can’t be in solidarity with yourself. That why he would have refused to be the face of a solidarity network.

Secondly, Africa Contact is a true solidarity partner of the Swazi people, unlike SSN which talks more and acts less, they have contributed immensely in the building and strengthening of the mass democratic movement.

This is so because they have contributed in the financially and otherwise in the strengthening of SNUS, SUDF etc which are organizations that have shaken tinkhundla to the core. The less said about SSN the better. It has now turned out to be an organization of statements and has lost focus. Jack Govender and Musa must be turning in utter disgust by what Lucky is doing in SSN.

Lucky Lukhele and together with the chairperson of SSN, Solly has actually destabilized the mass democratic movement. He first tried to sponsor comrades of Pudemo to oust Mario Masuku and he failed dismally on that.

He then tried to sponsor a coupe to take over Pudemo in Elijah Mango, but again he failed not withstanding that he had brought in an armed renegade to take pudemo. After failing in all this attempts he then sponsored comrades to degrade pudemo and its leadership in public, he again failed on that one that is why now he had sponsored division by forming and supporting Communist party of Swaziland, which has been formed by the same individuals who tried to take over Pudemo illegally.

As a matter of urgency, SNUS will write a letter to PUDEMO NEC to review their relationship with SSN.

We can’t allow our struggle, leaders and partners to be ridiculed in public in the name of solidarity. SSN must either shape out and allow us who are in the firing line to lead the struggle. If they fail to do that, we will disassociate ourselves from them and dismantle.

We will demand that Pudemo implements the Westville resolution that exiles must be kicked out of solidarity networks.  We do not own anything to SSN. In fact of late they have been a liability to the struggle of Swaziland hence a need to seriously look at their role and relevance at this hour.

SNUS has actually lost the little respect they had for this organization. If needs be, a new solidarity block that will seek to profile the struggle of Swaziland internationally and render solidarity to the people of Swaziland must be formed to organize the individuals who truly want to assist the people of Swaziland to earn liberation.

And Lucky in the current juncture must go and upgrade his marks so that he will be accepted at tertiary institutions to further his studies otherwise he will be a driver in the new democratic dispensation since we will need people with qualifications to actually take the country forward.

See also





Stiffkitten blog

28 April 2012

Swazi students denounce solidarity network foul-mouth

 “The Swaziland National Union of Students is amazed and angry at the bile spewed by one self-imposed exile called Lucky Lukhele. … The article was a constructive criticism of the broad, mass democratic movement in Swaziland. The Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) will write a letter to the PUDEMO NEC to [ask them to] review their relationship with the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN). … Lucky Lukhele and the chairperson of the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), Solly, have actually destabilized the mass democratic movement,” the Swazi student organisation SNUS said in a statement issued by Secretary General Samkeliso Ginindza today [April 28 2012].

The reason for the strongly worded statement from SNUS was the nature of the wording made by the SSN’s Lucky Lukhele and the Swazi April 12 Uprising Facebook campaign in replies to an article I wrote.

The article was about the predictions of these self-professed revolutionaries – most of whom are apparently based in South Africa – and the rhetoric of the democratic movement.
Especially as the predictions, that promise “a hundred thousand people on the streets” and a subsequent “revolution” turn out to be pretty far from the truth. King Mswati unfortunately still wields the executive power in Swaziland, regardless of the more levelheaded and realistic attempts to bring democracy to Swaziland by many brave and focused members of the democratic movement. I therefore thought a little constructive criticism was in order.

Funnily enough, freelance journalist Louise Redvers made pretty much the same point in the Mail & Guardian on April 20, apparently without being attacked. “Some people are starting to question whether Swaziland’s democracy movement has not become too much of a willing victim, happier to cry foul than to take part,” she wrote.

I, on the other hand, was instantly attacked by the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) and the anonymously led Swazi April 12 Uprising Facebook campaign. Lucky Lukhele of the SSN referred to my article as being “ludicrously unfounded” and “bullshit,” and my organisation, Africa Contact, who has worked in partnership with the democratic movement in Swaziland for over ten years, was called a “pitiful excuse for a solidarity partner.”

The Swazi April 12 Uprising also called the article “bullshit,” and referred to it as being “outrageously far from the truth”, “an outrageous distortion,” and myself as being a “con-thing.” They then went on to rhetorically ask, “where is the documentation of the fact that Swazis were beaten, abducted and in some cases raped by the state’s armed forces [on April 12 2011 and] how much has this con-man done to highlight the fact that our most vocal elements, the youth, had their leaders arrested on that date under false ‘explosive charges’?”

Unfortunately, they hadn’t done their homework. In fact I wrote five articles that were published on my blog, Africa Contact’s website, Newstime Africa and in other news media that documented the brutality of the regime on April 12 2011, as well as several follow-up articles (and I have written many articles – over 100, in fact, containing over 75.000 words – about Swaziland and its democratic movement).

In the articles about April 12 2011, I wrote, amongst other things, that “Swaziland’s police and security forces have detained, and probably manhandled, several members of the Swazi democratic movement and several members of the international press even before today’s announced uprising in Swaziland, inspired by similar events in North Africa, has begun,” “The police in Swaziland continue to arrest, detain and generally try and scare people from joining the announced mass demonstrations in Swaziland today,” “Swazi police are trying to crush the Egypt and Tunisia-like uprising in Swaziland by teargassing and firing rubber bullets at demonstrators,” and “Swazi security forces are trying to shut down the uprising with water cannons, tear gas and random beatings and arrests.”

I also helped instigate a campaign for the release of Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni, the two student activists who were charged with possession of explosives. And I wrote a chapter for a book called “African Awakening: the emerging revolutions” about the April 12 2011 uprising that was published by Pambazuka Press. Here, ironically, I quoted Sikelela Dlamini, employed by the Swaziland United Democratic Front at the time (and falsely accused by other agitators of having been fired from the organisation for having pinched money from their coffers), who remonstrates with the Swazi April 12 Facebook campaign by making exactly the point I was making in my article.

“While Swaziland remains predominantly rural with limited Internet connectivity, the hype around an uprising managed to filter throughout the country,” said Sikelela Dlamini. “It generated unrealistic excitement and anticipation on the part of a general citizenry, who became spectators while the bulk of those who generated the Facebook hype also resided outside the country and could not coordinate activities on the ground to actuate their cyber aspirations.”

And perhaps Sikelela Dlamini has hit the hammer on the nail here. Perhaps the problem is that the people within the SSN and the Swazi April 12 Uprising want to remote-control, so to speak, the masses in Swaziland to dance to their revolutionary tune from their offices in South Africa – a tune that calls for a violent uprising in Swaziland.

Just listen to the statement from the Swazi April 12 Uprising campaign in reply to my article: “The April 12 Uprising is first and foremost the aspiration of the most radical elements within the country’s democratic movement … these elements will always be two steps ahead of the masses … and being ahead of the masses they take the role of masterminds and strategists who propose a way forward and demand that the masses revolt.” And listen to Lucky Lukhele from the SSN in his response to my article today: “The state understands no other language but the force of violence.”

The problem for the SSN and the Swazi April 12 Uprising is that neither the masses nor the democratic movement at large seems to be buying it, as the press statement from SNUS and lack of support for their Marxist revolution in Swaziland clearly shows. Not the self-righteous and unrealistic revolutionary rhetoric that in effect insists on the exclusion of the masses from the planning of what ought to be a mass-based struggle, nor the claims that they are not ‘crying wolf’ when they continue to claim that the revolution will come ‘today.’

Even people on the SSN online forum don’t buy it. “As a matter of fact, people do constantly ‘cry wolf’ in Swaziland,” wrote former Cosatu employee Dominic Tweedie on the forum, in a reply to the tirade from Lucky Lukhele.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Stiffkitten blog 27 April 2012

New strategy for Swazi democratic movement?

“I would say there is a strong feeling that we need to revisit our strategy.” Swaziland National Union of Students activist Ace Lushaba is speaking of the clamp down on recent protests against king Mswati III’s undemocratic, brutal, cleptocratic regime.

There have historically been two main strategies used by the democratic movement in Swaziland. The first has been the use of protest action, mass mobilisation and pushing for a complete removal of the tinkundla system that bans political parties and leaves the executive powers of Swaziland in the hands of the king, and by extension, the chiefs. The second strategy seeks to change the system less radically and more gradually by way of talks and by trying and negotiate a settlement with king Mswati’s government.

The first strategy has been used by banned political party PUDEMO, the Swaziland United Democratic Front and the unions. “The liberation of the people means the destruction of the tinkhundla regime and its replacement by the institutions of a democratic system … Mass action remains our principal theatre of struggle and our key weapon of transformation,” as a PUDEMO strategy document puts it.

The second strategy has been used by the Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations and the newly formed party SWADEPA, led by former union leader, Jan Sithole. “To find a lasting solution to the challenges facing the country, we need an all-inclusive national and result-oriented political dialogue for all and sundry to brainstorm about the future of this country, and to collectively agree on a way forward,” Sithole told the Times of Swaziland in February.
But as Lushaba and other people within the democratic movement have concluded, none of these strategies are really possible under the present political climate.

“On April 12 [where the democratic movement annually protests the anniversary of the state of emergency and the banning of all political parties in 1973], there were so many police monitoring everyone and detaining all those who were trying to defy the government orders. We also had the feeling that we need to find ways to utilize amongst us those groups that are not affected by section 40 of the industrial act [that allows only the unions the right to protest legally]. These are students, the informal sector and other political organizations and stop the over-dependency on labour,” says Ace Lushaba.

“We are yet to hold a post mortem meeting to discuss, amongst other things, the effectiveness of our strategy but there one feeling comrades shared was that we need to revisit our strategies, find new ways of engaging the regime.”

Any new strategy will have to take into account the escalation of police and military presence and intimidation at any protest, however small and peaceful, the roadblocks that stop people participating, the compulsory arrests of the entire leadership of the democratic movement at these events, and the fear that this instils in many Swazis.

“A new strategy must understand the effects of this escalation,” says Morten Nielsen from Africa Contact, a Danish organisation that has worked in partnership with the democratic movement for over ten years.

“The democratic movement must look at the way their struggle is led today. Too many of the practical tasks in organising these protests depend on a handful of people. If they are removed, or if they are cut of from communicating with others the protest will not be successful. The ownership and leadership of the struggle for democracy in Swaziland must be shared amongst a larger section of the movement. In addition, the protests should not only be held in the major towns, but also in the smaller towns and rural areas where the majority of Swazis live.”


Prodemocracy campaigners in Swaziland have reacted with fury at an article that drew attention to shortcomings in their activities.

The article published originally on the stiffkitten blog, and subsequently reproduced on various Internet sites, drew attention to, ‘Messages [from democracy activists] proclaiming the final days of king Mswati’s absolute monarchy in Swaziland, or the revolutionary uprising of thousands of Swazis, have been conveyed many times by individuals and organisations within Swaziland’s democratic movement.’

It went on, ‘What such messages all have in common is that they turn out to be disappointingly far from the truth, that they therefore create false expectations, both inside and outside Swaziland, and that the discrepancy between the predictions and the outcome of the actual protest action reflects poorly on the democratic movement at large – regardless of the fact that much of the democratic movement has for decades worked vigorously and bravely to try and convince the majority of Swazis to stand up and demand democracy and economic justice.’

Activists denounced the writer, Peter Kenworthy, for pointing out what many of us have seen as obvious for years: that activists sometimes exaggerate how close the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is to achieving political change.

Kenworthy gave the following as an example of the rhetoric: “The people of Swaziland are convinced that no muti or ritual will ever stop the tide of the revolution. The year 2012 will be the year that king Mswati’s dictatorship finally ends and a new democratic dispensation takes its place.” (Swaziland Solidarity Network statement, December 2011).

The SSN and others have reacted strongly to Kenworthy’s article. Unfortunately, the critics resort to abuse and swear words in their response. I won’t put them up on the blog, but if you want to read them, click on the links below.

WARNING: Not suitable for children or maiden aunts.

See also