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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. These words befit the day of the most bittersweet events in the history of Swazi politics - the Sibaya Convention.

For a fleeting moment we tasted a precious thing of venting our misery, thinking it would be heard. We tasted a precious feeling.
We thought Sibaya was free and fair and honest - where the nation truly vented their grief, where they had voice.

We thought the historic voice would bring the best of times. Just as we tasted the euphoria of the moment, it was snatched away from us for reasons we could not understand. Its annulment cast the nation into the worst period of dictatorship. August 2012 at Sibaya showed the people’s capacity to exercise political wisdom.

August 2012 showed the light of hope: its termination enveloped us in darkness. Some claim we regained independence in 2012 at Sibaya.
That claim in not completely true. What took place at Sibaya and what is taking place now is but a shadow of August 2012. Things are such that many wonder if we, having lost this great chance of freedom, will ever revisit the fullness of that moment. I pray we do.

Despite the passage of time, 2012 remains etched in our national conscience. It symbolises Swaziland. The day that begun with full promises, ended in twisted disappointment because a cunning few thought their interests were paramount to the wishes of an entire nation.
Since August 2012, we have struggled to reach the level of democratic quality experienced that moment. Today we live halfway, sun and storm. We have yet to reach the democratic level of August 2012. That is why we must never forget August 2012 at Sibaya.

Many try to belittle August 2012 at Sibaya. We must not sweep the lessons of that day under the carpet. Those who discount that day don’t do this because of the regional chauvinism.

August 2012 belongs to all Swazis, except a few certain class frightened by what full democracy would mean for them. This has nothing to do with anything else, it has everything to do with a person’s view of democracy. Reactionary forces detest August 2012, because it reminds them their days will be numbered should the people’s will ever be respected.

At its essence, August 2012 serves as a reminder that the struggle for democracy is never ending.
Just as well, when we talk of August 2012, we talk not about dead hero’ and dead evil, we talk not about ghosts, but we talk about today and the future to come.

Thee country had drifted for too long. The current government is long in problems, short on solutions. We have too much poverty, too much unemployment, too much hunger, too much corruption and disease.
We have too little progress, jobs, too little justice and no hope. Swaziland now stands with one foot on the rock and one in the rising waters. We need to decide whether we want to stand or sink.

Swaziland is trapped by a defective structure that promises underdevelopment, because those in power took the wrong undemocratic way.
They have learnt the wrong undemocratic lesson. They have learnt not to give the people the chance to truly express their political will. The current system does not foster the public’s will.
The system squeezes it. The system is so corrosive that even an election, becomes an exercise, a blatant mischief, where the loser is tagged thee winner. In the end there is no end.

A nation never keeps democracy except it continually fights for it. To slumber is to lose.
It  was  a  story  about  Swaziland. A complete truth about the life in Swaziland. We really meant it that day- that we want democracy.
 We really meant it - we still do. This is the Swaziland we seek, for today, for tomorrow.

We need also to remind ourselves what Sibaya represents. It is neither mere talk, nor sentiments, it is simply - human spirit.
 What a futile understanding it is then when some individuals attempt to deny or crush it.
Yet it was this spirit that brought such out of relegation. August 2012 should have embodied unity of purpose, equity and justice. As Swazis let’s remain unshaken.

Colleen Matsebula

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