struggle in Swaziland
By Blue Collar Bohemian
is a "faraway country of which we know little", as Neville
Chamberlain might have said. So why does it matter?
western corporate media is constantly full of the abominable behaviour
of Robert Mugabe, a revolutionary who defeated a white racist government.
However, not far from Zimbabwe theres small landlocked country,
with South Africa on three sides and Mozambique on the other that
very seldom rates a mention. This is the Kingdom of Swaziland, ruled
by the Dlamini family dynasty since 1750.
a population of about 1.2 million, Swaziland is ruled by this despotic
and unaccountable absolute monarchy one that pays no heed to
the needs and rights of the majority, 70 per cent of whom survive
on less than a dollar a day. With an infection rate of 45 per cent
for HIV, life expectancy has plunged to 33 years, down from 65 ten
is 40 per cent. The health system is overwhelmed and the impact of
AIDS has led to social breakdown. Despite this, the king, Mswati III,
continues to live a profligate life style, indulging himself and his
thirteen wives with expensive German cars, an executive jet, and extensively
overseas travel. This self-indulgence in the face of the crises suffered
by the country has led to an open challenge to the government by opposition
groups, with PUDEMO, the Peoples Democratic Movement in the forefront,
backed by the Zabalaza Anarcho-Communist Federation, a South African
based international federation of radical groups.
independence in the pre-WWI cauldron of British, Dutch and Portugese
imperialism, the Swazis, unlike their neighbours, the Zulus, avoided
incorporation into the Union of South Africa, and became a separate
British colony. Gaining independence in 1968, the country was a constitutional
monarchy under Sobhuza II, father of the current king. Regarded as
a haven for the ANC and PAC by apartheid South Africa, under threat
of invasion from the south and feeling the pressure of domestic radicals
of PUDEMO, Sobhuza declared a "state of emergency", seized
power from the parliament in 1973, banned political parties and retained
the parliament as an impotent advisory body. South African
troops entered Swaziland at will to pursue anti-apartheid fighters
(popularly regarded as a national humiliation) and on the death of
Sobhuza in 1986, his son Mswati III ascended to the throne, inviting
the South African president PW Botha to his coronation. This cozy
relationship with the apartheid regime enabled Swaziland to avoid
the fate of Mozambique and Angola, where the apartheid regime, aided
and abetted by the US, Israel and Britain, waged murderous war on
the populations in the wake of the collapse of the Portuguese empire.
Swaziland was and is totally dependent on South Africa for electricity,
making it easy for pressure to be applied.
the last 35 years non-violent resistance to the royal dictatorship
has continued with demonstrations, petitions, hunger strikes and representations
to the king and his cabal of retainers, toadies and mendicants. This
hasnt had any results, and in the face of the continuing national
decline the opposition has become more strident in demanding the restoration
of basic civil rights. The king has responded with what he laughingly
calls constitutional reform, which leaves the king and
his cronies still with absolute power and the right to dissolve this
new"constitution at will.
events have included the arrest of opposition activists for treason
and sedition, and the labelling of all dissent and resistance as terrorism.
There have been firebombings of government buildings and police stations,
and a big increase in the salaries of soldiers and police in an attempt
to buy their loyalty. This has led to widespread resentment as the
national wealth is appropriated by the Dlaminis to prop up their doomed
regime. There have been evictions, sackings, arrests and torture,
extra-judicial killings, exiling of opponents the whole catalogue
of state brutalities. Despite all this the Swazi nation is not prepared
to carry Mswati and his heirs and successors on their backs any longer.
the war on terror being waged by the west in defence of
the right to plunder whatever it wants from whoever has it, Africa
is at the receiving end of the brutality of the resources plundering
industry. In the Congo for example, pursuit of tantalum, a metal used
in the capacitors contained in all modern electronic goods, and other
raw materials has led to over 3 million deaths as warlords and militias
fight for control of the wealth. In this climate all liberation movements
receive a tough time as the latest in a long line of imperialists
use private armies and mercenaries to seize the wealth of Africa from
its people, avidly supported by US, French and British state power.
Their bloody-minded support of the despicable saw the regimes of monsters
such as Zaires Mobutu Sese Seko, Rhodesias Ian Smith's,
South Africas Vorster and Botha bankrolled and bolstered by
western governments and corporations. Mswati is a lightweight in this
league, but he is just as determined to retain his hold on power in
the face of his subjects' resistance.
Africa, the ANC was held out of power, with apartheid continuously
supported by the British and American veto in the UN Security Council
. Only after the end of the Cold War, after all the children murdered
by the police and army, after the ANC was forced to abandon its policy
of wealth redistribution in the interest of the vast majority, would
this combine of corporations and governments allow the process of
one vote, one value decide the government. A co-opted and compromised
ANC has since failed to meet the demands of its supporters, leading
to tensions and frustrations as the rich white minority continue to
behave as they did under apartheid. If the Western governments and
corporations are outraged at the land seizures in Zimbabwe, the impending
explosion in South Africa over land will be even more cataclysmic
to their interests.
loyal satrap of the west, the regime of Mswati III will be swept away
on the Winds of Change that will continue to blow through the African
continent till the vestiges of colonialism are expunged, and the burden
of these hereditary parasites is lifted from the backs of ordinary
Swazis. Till then the Zabalaza (struggle) of our Swazi comrades will
correspondent has Swazi family members and relatives.]