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GOVT STATEMENT A GRAVE CONCERN

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Finally, government has acceded that it is licenced to kill extra-judiciary in apparently indirectly justifying its security forces, prematurely extinguishing the young and budding lives of tens of emaSwati youth during and post the June 2021 pro-multiparty protests.

This is the sum total of the statement it issued through its mouthpiece, Alpheous Nxumalo, in which it sought to explain the context of the Sovereign’s speech during the State opening of the last session of the 11th Parliament, wherein His Majesty King Mswati III called for the silencing of the guns. This call, according to government, was not directed to the national security forces, especially the police service, whose guns remain cocked and ready to maul down political activists calling for political reforms. What is in fact shocking is government openly and publicly endorsing and embracing extra-judiciary killings and wanton violence against civilians, which has always been its stock-in-trade, albeit insidiously, in order to instill fear on whoever thinks of challenging the obtaining political order. Murders of political activists and violence being unleashed during protests over service delivery issues over the years bear testimony to this truism. The question is over the raison d’etre for issuing such an incendiary statement, certainly not to foster peace, let alone maintaining law and order.

Explain   

What is also startling is government second-guessing the King. Neither has government ever set out to explain the content and context of any of His Majesty’s speech let alone interpret same. Which is why Nxumalo’s statement came like a bolt of lightning and a shock to all discerning and peace loving emaSwati because it was unexpected and unnecessary. The timing, too, could not have been any worse coming as it did when a semblance of calmness not experienced in recent times was returning to a country that has been gripped by a combination of fear and palpable anger since the June 2021 pro-multiparty democracy protests mass killings.

Tensions

As I see it, the Monarch’s speech was positively welcomed as bridge-building at a time of heightened tensions, as the nation was taking strain in the wake of what appeared to be revenge random killings of members of the security forces and especially after the heinous assassination of prominent Human Rights Attorney and political activist Thulani Maseko in front of his young family in the refuge of his parental home. These followed the mass slaughter by security forces of tens of emaSwati during and after the June 2021 protests. While oftentimes the lines appear blurred between government’s official position and personal opinion of its spokesperson, this particular statement, given its grave and potential to reignite a volatile situation, appears to have been well considered and thought out. At least we now know the temperament and disposition, through contradictory public pronouncements, of those controlling the levers of power apropos this statement.   

Consequently, it would be injudicious to blame this on Nxumalo notwithstanding his pugnacious disposition towards opponents of the obtaining polity. Perhaps the idea was to ride on the new-found confidence accruing from the twin successes of Incwala and Marula (Buganu) cultural ceremonies. Success in this context being defined by the large numbers of participants in these two cultural events coupled with the successful political pollution and weaponisation of culture on the altar of political expediency. Whereas the long term effects of this apparent desecration of emaSwati cultural heritage cannot immediately be fathomed, the short term political traction needs not be overemphasised as ably demonstrated by such inflammatory, careless and carefree statements. The confidence, not to leave out the arrogance of power, is back to invalidate the need for a national dialogue that the political elites are not keen on as they essentially perceive it to being tantamount to negotiating themselves out of power.  

There is also the remote possibility, God forbid, that government’s statement could be a direct response to Lobamba Lomdzala Member of Parliament Marwick Khumalo, who had voiced his discomfort over the security forces, specifically the police, appearing to cock-a-snook at the King’s call to cease fire. If so, why an honest observation from a legislator of repute would attract such a toxic and militant reaction from the government, is the question begging for an answer. Indeed government’s position is not only fatuous, but could easily lead to another explosion of violence and bloodshed, which unfortunately could well be its intended consequence with its sabre-rattling statement to manufacture yet another excuse to avoid a national dialogue, while also arming itself with an excuse to continue exterminating its political foes.

Resisted

In the meantime, emaSwati who have resisted and continue to resist to be coopted, coerced, brainwashed and inured to prostrate themselves and accept the privileged right of others to deprive them of their inalienable fundamental human rights and liberties as a natural phenomenon over which they have no control should beware, their safety is not guaranteed. French author, historian and philosopher (1694-1778) Voltaire Jean Francois, rings true today with the warning: “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” He could well have also had emaSwati in mind when he observed that people were subliminally patterned not to think critically, analyse, but just to obey and follow orders, a scenario that has been inculcated from since the enactment of the 1973 Decree that criminalised freedom and democracy.

As I see it, and in the context of government’s statement, law and order is nothing more than a set phrase which does not examine too closely either the justice of the law in question or the nature of the political order that promulgated that law. Consequently law and order can and does give rise to lawlessness birthed by unjust laws in the absence of social justice. 

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