Monday, April 30, 2012


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.

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