22 July 2011
JULY 22 A HOLIDAY DEDICATED TO A DESPOT
The 22nd of July is a national holiday in Swaziland. This is known as Sobhuza day, the date on which Swaziland’s monstrosity of a dictator was supposedly born. And as usual the Swazi puppet media will provide space for sycophants to try to portray him as a larger than life, closer to God, leader who united the nation and lead it to prosperity.
It is therefore crucial that real face of this tyrant is revealed for the current and future generations to know him for what he truly was.
Mona Nkhotfotjeni Dlamini (Sobhuza), lived most of his life under British rule (1903 to 1968), Sobhuza was groomed to be a comprador, a lackey of British imperialism. As many noted scholars like Kwameh Nrumah have noted, Great Britain had a policy of using existing kinglets to further its imperialist agenda amongst the population. Their motto seems to have been “Win the traditional leadership first, and their subjects will follow.” It worked remarkably.
It is therefore not a coincidence of history that when the early pro-democracy nationalist parties rallied the Swazi population against colonialism Sobhuza and his cronies looked aside as their fellow Swazis were brutally suppressed. Even Tinkundla fanatics admit that the only parties that rallied people against British colonialism were the early democratic parties, foremost amongst them being Dr Ambrose Zwane’s NNLC (Ngwane National Liberatory Congress).
Never content with being a colonial subject himself, Sobhuza’s own path to national liberation was though sacrificing innocent Swazis to fight Europe’s last big war (incorrectly referred to as the Second World War). There Swazi warriors were led to fight against the imperialist armies of Italy while they themselves were still in bondage.
In return for this act of stupidity the gaffer was given what has since been referred to as “flag independence” in 1968.
Granted a chance to head the nation as a constitutional monarch, Sobhuza went further to create his own political party, the Imbokodvo National Movement. This movement was nothing but the feudal system with its myriad of chiefdoms gathering in support of the Ingwenyama against the modernising political parties with their dreams of concrete political liberation for the nation.
Sobhuza remained opposed to the idea of democracy to the end. He and his sycophants used to jokingly describe democracy as an act of throwing the governance of the country in the air for people to grab. Believing in a tradition that he had only really heard about but never really witnessed as he lived in a protectorate for most of his life, Sobhuza went beyond that very tradition in creating an absolute monarchy which would leave his subjects in worse off conditions than they had been prior to the colonial situation.
In 1973 king Sobhuza instructed his lieutenants in parliament to abrogate the independence constitution. His apologists nowadays use every opportunity to claim that the king was not the one who abrogated the constitution and banned political parties as they claim that this was an act of parliament. This ludicrous claim ignores two crucial facts: the fact that those parliamentarians followed his instruction and the fact that as the head of state he was the custodian of the constitution and thus had the right to veto that drastic decision – something that he did not even attempt to do.
Instead, he went to the cattle byre to celebrate his victory over democracy and subsequently ruled by decree, jailing all dissenting views without trial and deporting others.
On the economic front, as a trusted ally of Apartheid South Africa and his former colonial forces, Sobhuza received more than a fair share of economic aid in return for his comprador policies. This translated to a “crutch” of economic prosperity that the country has never been able to emulate since the end of Apartheid. Part of this involved the policy of helping South Africa escape economic sanctions by falsely labeling South Africa products with a “Made in Swaziland” tag and receiving a share of the profits from the sales in international markets.
This economic crutch that Sobhuza willingly received was the foundation for Swaziland’s current economic collapse. Sobhuza’s lack of foresight has led to Swaziland, once the most promising small country in the region, to a pauper state. His vision of a country led by royalist elites and their aristocratic cronies has failed miserably as he left them with a disgusting sense of entitlement that rendered them lazy and unmotivated. Instead of being employers, Swaziland’s princes live off the state, getting paid for doing nothing.
This is the Sobhuza that Swazis experienced, despite the Swaz media’s constant attempts to portray him as a “benevolent dictator” who could magically transform into a cat when he wanted.
When the current king, Mswati III, ascended the throne in 1986 he swore to follow his father’s footsteps. As far as this promise is concerned, the son has fulfilled his dream remarkably. In fact he has gone on to become worse than his father yet sticking to the same foolish notion of being the only person ordained by god to misrule the country. One of the long term goals of Swaziland’s movements for democracy is therefore to teach the real history of Swaziland in order to wipe away all traces of these false icons. No human being can ever change into a cat.
Issued by The Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]