Swaziland’s King Mswati III and the government he hand-picked should negotiate with the Swazi people for political reform – before an uprising starts.
With popular uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, turning former dictatorships into fledgling democracies, there are stirrings of unrest in Swaziland.
Musa Hlophe, coordinator of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations, writing in the Times Sunday today (27 February 2011), says, ‘... with events showing that the populations of North Africa and the Middle East are now demanding the same things we [in Swaziland] are demanding: democracy, our government has a serious problem of adjusting to the new realities. My take is that we are all better off if our leaders were to take the lead, like the monarchies of Bahrain and Jordan have done: lead the change processes.’
He writes, ‘They should initiate the necessary reforms, engage the opposition and the larger civil society in shaping a new direction for the country, in political terms.’
Here is an extract from his article. To read it in full, click here.
The pictures that touched my heart
Personally, I believe that events in North Africa and the Middle East, have grave implications for the kingdom of Eswatini.
Given the fact that Swaziland had already turned their backs on the West, adopting, instead, a look-East policy, it therefore follows that with the East crumbling, Swaziland is left in limbo, politically.
We all know why Swaziland decided to look East. They were being troubled by their Western friends who kept nudging them to move towards democratisation. The Swazi government has never cherished the idea of democracy. They hate the very word: democracy, although calling their Tinkhundla system a democratic one, simply because it allows unfettered control over the citizens.
Therefore, with events showing that the populations of North Africa and the Middle East are now demanding the same things we are demanding: democracy, our government has a serious problem of adjusting to the new realities. My take is that we are all better off if our leaders were to take the lead, like the monarchies of Bahrain and Jordan have done: lead the change processes.
They should initiate the necessary reforms, engage the opposition and the larger civil society in shaping a new direction for the country, in political terms.
Let us not wait until we are overtaken by the revolution, however remotely possible this may look for now.
If we do nothing and hope to rely on the army to keep us in power, we may live to regret it.
Remember, trying to negotiate in the middle of a revolution is very dangerous because by then, you are either ignored or told that you are coming too late when people are no longer prepared to make concessions. It is better when we anticipate and lead change, we can do it at our own pace and terms. It is interesting to note the difference in strategy that the Libyan government took from all of the others in keeping the Army deliberately weak.
This was so that Gaddafi could not lose power the way that he took it – through a military coup. The people that are murdering Libyans in the streets are not the regular army but mercenaries from across Africa and the world who have no duty or ethics to protect their people only to take orders and wages. A real army knows the difference between protecting a government and protecting a country and its people.
This is why the tank commanders in Egypt were seen removing their headsets and not obeying plainly illegal orders.
International Press reports this week have shown that our government has been trying to buy some seriously powerful weaponry, including helicopter gunships and heavy machine guns.
I wonder who the intended targets are