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LIMITING OUR CONSUMPTION CHOICES

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The fundamentals are really falling off in this country and one wonders when it all will end.

The direct attack on freedom of speech and freedom of expression is really quite concerning and at times it is quite unfathomable. It would seem we are stuck in a zero-sum game when in essence we should all be focusing on settling for an outcome that will improve national welfare than one that will render us in a worse off position than when we started.

Freedom of speech

I will not exert much effort explaining the linkages between freedom of speech and the economic development. I believe I have done justice explaining the development and democracy nexus and how we stand to benefit as a country if individual liberties are protected. In the famous words of Amartya Sen, no country can say it is developed if its citizens do not enjoy individual liberties and freedoms. I am honestly failing to understand the gag on ‘Gawuzela’ and Ncandweni music on national radio and on the national television. These are public entities funded entirely by the taxpayer and it does not make sense, none whatsoever, why we should be deprived the pleasure to listen to certain music.

Limiting consumption space

The move by the authorities to put a gag on the two groups, only just makes the point for the dissident voices. It does not inspire confidence on why the status quo shall be maintained. It is concerning that instead of trying to unify the nation by addressing discerning voices the authorities are moving towards a more authoritarian route. The ban of the two groups from the national airwaves limits the consumption space for music lovers. It signals that we are headed in a direction, where certain individuals will end up determining what commodities are suitable for us to consume. We are slowly but surely moving to join the ranks of North Korea, since it’s the only country that even determines what type of hairstyle people can wear. This is totally unacceptable! Development is also measured by the amount of goods available to an individual in their consumption basket.

Alternative media

What good will the ban do? We are living in an information age, in the digital age, in the fourth industrial revolution. One can simply access the banned music online, through social media and other avenues in the digital world where all music is sold. One, therefore, wonders if the ban will be effective in silencing Ncandweni and ‘Gawuzela’. Note that I am making reference to the groups not the outspoken and critical Members of Parliament and one wonders what the music has to do with what is happening in the political landscape.

Terrorism gospel

We are entering into really interesting times but rather scary. One can assume that the groups are either banned because they are linked to terrorist entities or because they contribute to the radicalisation of the nation. I mean this is gospel music we talking about here. For a country that received a vision re-affirming that we are indeed the pulpit of Africa, this is quite a paradox, akucondzakali what is expected of us and what direction are we to take as a population. Are the authorities communicating that gospel music has become an avenue for terrorism? Oh pulpit of Africa what has become of you?

When does it end?

I recall back in 2010 when I went to study in East Africa; I was flabbergasted when I saw police officers and security guards carrying automatic weapons. I was not used to even seeing a gun that is the Swaziland from which I had come from, not this Eswatini where even traffic officers carry automatic weapons. I am astonished at the level of radicalisation that has occurred just within a decade in this country. The police service seems to be so overtly radicalised and armed, now EBIS seems to be joining the fray. What I worry mostly about is the radicalisation of the masses, will the police and the army be able to control a radicalised population?

Mass radicalisation of Eswatini

The answer is a simple no! Every day we wake up to some news of arson; if it is not a school, its police quarters or the home of some unfortunate police officer. These are indicators of a radicalised mass, we wake up to news of the different political factions calling people to self-defence training, so they are able to defend themselves from the police. The very state apparatus that should protect the people is becoming the enemy of the people. You tax the people and use their taxes to fund a police service that will brutalise the very people.

Less radical path

Can the leadership of the country chose a less radical solution to the impasse. It does not have to be a zero-sum game, it does not have to end in a civil war, that would be more destructive and no one will win. I am losing whatever ounce of faith I had in the authorities with each passing day; somebody call the nation to a dialogue before it is too late!

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