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THE spectre of the infamous 1973 King’s Proclamation to the nation will remain an albatross around the neck of this kingdom, and in the process drag the country down the abyss, if practical steps are not taken to pronounce on the position of this decree given the advent of a constitutional order.

This much was gleaned from the speech of the United States Ambassador to Eswatini, Lisa Peterson, last week during her country’s 243rd Independence Day celebrations.

She noted that the failure by government to unequivocally revoke the 1973 Decree was creating uncertainty especially to investors, something that was not assisting economic development. The importance of an explicit revocation of this decree, she reasoned, was essential in unleashing the full potential of emaSwati.

She said while votes and voting was an important element, democracy worked best when a collection of like-minded people worked, raised money and voted for particular candidates and policies. This was a direct affront on the Tinkhundla political system that is anchored on individual merit based elections, that is not informed by political manifestos pronouncing policy issues that ought to be pursued in the development endeavours of the nation.

Ambassador Peterson observed that while the Constitution is in effect, there was lingering ambiguity about the citizens’ abilities to use these like-minded associations otherwise known as political parties, since some still believed that the 1973 Decree outlawing political parties remains effective. In essence, ambassador Peterson was throwing the gauntlet and challenging government to pronounce, once and for all, the status of the 1973 Decree. This is important for a number of reasons, among which would be the predictability of the Eswatini polity especially to investors.

It is, after all, common currency that capital is a coward and is best suited to environments in which the exercise of governance is derived from the full participation of and power is resident with the people.  

Attributing the lacklustre economic performance of the kingdom, the ambassador reasoned that ‘some form of explicit action on the 1973 Decree will remove the ambiguity and help the country move on to more organised and productive policy debate’. This, she said, can be accomplished before the next elections due in four years time.

As I see it, Peterson’s intervention could not have come at a better time. The kingdom is struggling to resuscitate the economy that has been in constriction for perhaps the last decade, if not more. In the meantime, government remains in denial about what ought to be done in order to normalise the affairs of this country because it believes the abnormality that is obtaining to be normal. Yes, this county is relatively abnormal in many ways, hence it is at the point of dysfunctionality. Of course, everyone benefiting from this abnormality is in denial of the fact.

Supposedly emaSwati are in enjoyment of all their inalienable human rights, we have been made to believe. Yet they have no say in how they want to be governed. This country is not where it is because of some natural disasters but rather because of wrong policies and choices. These choices and policies are, unfortunately, not of the making of emaSwati. Consequently, emaSwati are victims in this whole scheme of things, in which they have very little say apropos influencing or having inputs to national policies and choices towards the achievement of national imperatives. 

The very denial that emaSwati are oppressed and do not enjoy or even exercise their human rights becomes the number one enemy of this nation. This country is at a crucial crossroads that demands that fundamental change of mindsets in order to inform a renewal and positive trajectory of this nation. There are two choices to be made; either we remain as we are - pretending all is well - and pray for doomsday to come sooner before all of us are ravaged by the scourge of poverty and disease, or take that giant leap and change our circumstances. By now people should be aware that the obtaining political hegemony is leading this country to the abyss as manifested by the tacit enthronement of institutional corruption and fatally flawed policy decisions.

If there ever was an opportune time for the nation to rid itself of the infancy that has been holding it back, then that time is now. This country, given its peculiar attributes, can easily become the Dubai, if not better, of Africa. Yes, that can be easily achieved by disengaging from the notion that this country is either preparing for war as articulated by the budgeting trends or the need to defend the political status quo at whatever cost, instead of channeling resources towards  uplifting the living standards of emaSwati.

This begins with channeling the budget towards education – free education from cradle to the grave – and a well architectured health delivery system that would turn this kingdom into the most favoured health-driven tourism mecca. 
As I see it, it is either we go for radical political reforms to allow a multiplicity of voices to determine the destiny of this nation or keep the obtaining political hegemony that will inevitably lead us to doomsday. We have a choice to make, and this begins with you!  


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