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The South African media ran a story on the alleged involvement of our head of State in the brutal murder of Hillary Gardee, the daughter of Economic Freedon Fighters (EFF) former Secretary General Godrich Gardee.

As a father of four daughters, one can’t even begin to understand the pain endured by Godrich and the entire family during such a loss. One can only extend sincere condolences and sympathy to the family and hope justice will prevail. As an observer from afar, one can’t help but wonder why His Majesty the King would go to the extent of ordering the brutal killing of a daughter of a South African citizen who organised a six-hour blockade of the border when some border gates were closed for months due to COVID-19. The loss of six hours’ income does not justify murder. There are individuals who have done and continue to do serious damage to the image of the King and his reign but have not been killed. In fact, some have been taken to courts in South Africa and their cases are still pending. My worry with this narrative of our King being a killer is that it might derail the real investigation and the real killers evade justice.

Three men were arrested  

Two months ago the SABC news reported that three suspects had been arrested for this crime. They even pronounced their names as Laurence Mkhatjwa, Philemon Lukhele and Mduduzi Gama, who are facing six charges including murder, rape and kidnapping. One of the accused, Lukhele, works for the African National Congress (ANC) Chief whip in the Mpumalanga Legislature. His employment was confirmed by the ANC Mpumalanga Chief Whip, Vincent Mlambo, in a Newzroom Afrika interview two months ago.  The EFF was up in arms fighting the bail application. Only two weeks ago the case for the three accused was postponed to August 22, 2022. The bail applications were also postponed to various dates toward the end of August. The EFF has continued to pronounce their lack of confidence in the legal system of South Africa particularly in cases of gender violence.

Enter King’s accusations

When we were growing up we had myths about how King Sobhuza II would transform into a cat or lihhiya and just vanish. It would appear that King Mswati III is being built up to have these abilities to reach any person with his supposed powerful security forces. The so-called powerful security forces are wondering who they are talking about because they are being hunted and shot at on the streets and inside their barracks. Those who have been following the case are baffled. Where does the King fit in all this? The charismatic government Spokesman, Alpheous Nxumalo sprang into action with a statement that may be true or false but a diplomatic nightmare all the same. Maybe the diplomatic nightmare started when Godrich, in his grief, sent a tweet accusing the head of State of another country of cold-blooded murder without hard evidence and that country’s media published it.

It would seem you can say anything against His Majesty in the South African media and it will be published regardless of any facts as long as you are criticising him. This is very unfortunate because the media is the only real safeguard to true democracy and if emaSwati get to a point where they just don’t trust the South African media to report objectively and fairly on the King, how will they trust democracy that the South African media is promoting? On the other hand, I do wish His Majesty had just stayed out of the name-calling and allowed diplomats and government to handle it.  

True democracy

Recently someone asked me what I wanted for Eswatini in light of all that has happened. I answered as I have always answered, that I wanted true democracy through a referendum if possible. The immediate assumption to the loyalist is that if you say you want democracy you want political parties, which is not necessarily true. Democracy simply means the will of the people or what the majority of emaSwati want. I may like it or I may not like it, but that is what it means. The majority of the people might well choose to remain with the Tinkhundla political system, and true democracy will say that is okay. I can only hope that emaSwati will want a democratically elected government regardless of the political system used; a system that reduces the political pressure on our monarchy.

My friend immediately interjected, saying a referendum can never work because emaSwati don’t know what they want. He went on to say they just blindly follow the monarchy without much knowledge of the atrocities being allegedly done. He even said there is no mass movement simply because of the lack of knowledge and fear of police brutality. My strong conviction is that when people truly want change, they will march and demand change regardless of police brutality. Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela are proof that when people want change they will rise up against any odds. I suggested that maybe the democratic movement should push for more civic education at tinkhundla centres, which is the grassroots level. When asked about recent fear, intimidation and infighting within the newly formed political parties, including the loyalist Mangololo, he acknowledged that it is not helping but was natural and expected in a free democratic society. How does this convince emaSwati?

Economic freedom fighters

As a strong pan-Africanist, the policies and ethos of the EFF and their leader Julius Malema make a lot of sense to me. I have listened to Malema in many interviews and he just never fails to amaze me with his intellect and his understanding of the decolonisation agenda. I am sure Malema understands that the role of emakhosi (kings) in the struggle for the return of land is very important. When colonialists came, kings held full title to the land in the trust of the people; not as their personal property but in trust for the people. When we say land was taken from Africans we actually mean it was taken from African kings who held it in trust for them. Africans believed that land belonged to all for our use, collectively. One requested the land from the chief or king and would use it as per one’s need and strength. The EFF must work with emakhosi including King Mswati III in the democratisation process and discourage violence. Comment septembereswatini@gmail.com

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