Blood in their hands!

A senior government official relates how Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg at the start of his term in office would berate and ridicule government departments for implementing projects that are considered costly or unfeasible. When told that the projects in question were strict orders from the king, Neal would condescendingly advise the officials to ‘go and bonga that thing’, meaning abahambe bayobonga enkhosini – a euphemism for politely advising the king that a particular project is not feasible or downright impossible. It is said that Neal couldn’t understand why the officials would press on with glaringly unnecessary and wasteful expenditure even against their own better judgement.

The minister seemed to have been of the view that he can drum some sense into the king’s mind. He thought the king lacks good advices.  Of course the minister’s critics say he – and not them, was too naïve to think he could succeed where many simply fear to tread.

It came to pass that the minister, at some stage, thought it would be imprudent not to temper with the budget of the white elephant convention centre at eZulwini, owing to scarce resources. When he solicited advices from senior government officials at the Ministries of Public Works and Economic Planning, he was advised to ‘go and bonga that thing’. Apparently the minister did try ‘kubonga’ without any success. And officials who had been his subjects of ridicule were finally vindicated.

Unfortunately, this scenario plays and feeds into the perception and narrative that the king's deafness and indifference to advices are the only problems we have. What it doesn’t say is that the desired advices are very few and far in between. The worst thing with this perception is that it is now deliberately exaggerated and then proliferated to a gullible populace by beneficiaries of the same stubbornness and omnipotence of the king.

For these beneficiaries, the characterization of the king as law unto himself becomes a convenient refuge with which to insulate themselves from any moral duty to call the king to order or to dissent from his perspectives.

As Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini confides in close friends that he is frustrated and has even considered resigning at some point, the question that begs is who exactly is he trying to fool? Of all the Premiers we’ve had before, he is the one who ought to know the king exactly for who he is. When he was appointed as Premier, the king was at the zenith of his murderous arrogance. History will remember Dlamini as the Prime Minister who knowingly accepted to be hangman with all the pegs of that position. The cheap victimhood by him and his ilk meant to drum up sympathy for them as victims in chief may not sustain for much longer. And it must not be allowed to find resonance because once it does; we stop seeing them as our tormentors and elevate them to the pedestal of moral high ground.

Another Prime Minister who, because of lack of verve and grit, presented himself as a somewhat reasonable person even if only relative, is Absalom Themba Dlamini. His priestly posture, especially when juxtaposed with his predecessor and successor, the gritty and arrogant Barnabas, makes AT a likable and affable man. For a nation like ours desperate for good and morally upright men in the Premier position, any perceived departure from past legacies is readily celebrated. We forget that, however noble one maybe, to be Prime Minister under the current set up is to be the king’s executor. And AT couldn’t have been any different.

As our desperation renders us susceptible to any lie laced with ‘positive news’ we are often told and believe that Prince David is not in the king’s good books precisely because, given his sophistication, he is sympathetic and amenable to our cause - being our demonstrated desires for universal suffrage and other accountability measures and freedoms. The truth is, like his brother Guduza and other princes and princess, Prince David is complicit in this calamity for his own selfish ends. King Mswati is their emissary. What do they make of the unearned salaries they draw up monthly and other privileges like appointments in useless bodies and committees populated by the king’s siblings, children, and other royal hangers on?

Senator Kusa Dlamini is a chief by virtue of which he is the minder of the king’s footstool: the communities over which he and others like him rule. Like all chiefs, Dlamini is recipient of many privileges including preferences for him and his children and siblings in state and/or government jobs especially in the security cluster and other emabandla. Being a chief almost automatically guarantees one a head start in the appointment of Senators and Member of Parliament.

Senator Kusa Dlamini

With strong royal blood, Senator Kusa is no ordinary chief. He is representative of the chiefs who because of their exposure to formal tertiary education can’t claim ignorance or any oblivion to the brutality and calamity unleashed on the very same people he is supposed to be looking after on behalf of the monarchy. He is the extension of the monarchy. His friends speak glowingly of his ability and aptitude to comprehend and appreciate discourses otherwise too complex for other chiefs like the late Ndzameya Nhlabatsi, for instance. Yet, there’s no condemnation of the recent atrocities that can be attributed to him.

Of course from time to time the system co-opts other societal commoners to consolidate its moral outlook. One of the king’s wives is a law graduate. The grapevine is fertile with stories of how brainy and outspoken Inkhosikati LaMbikiza is. Her cheerleaders even suggest she is a voice of reason of some sort. Yet, she has never deemed it necessary to add her weight and voice against the injustices into which she was inducted in the royal family.

She, too, is a microcosm of those, who by their silence, condone the brutality in appreciation of being revellers in the tax funded bonanza whose grim manifestation is the pompous and theatrical display of ill-gotten wealth that her daughter ‘decried’ in her widely circulated voice note.

These individuals and their actions are exactly the kind of buoyancies the king needs to pursue their agenda relentlessly. That the king listens to no one must not be amplified over the moral obligations of those he appoints and hobnobs with to speak and act against injustices. We must, instead, accept the proposition that he hears no voices because no one tells him the truth, simply because no one – among the chosen ones, not the commoners brutalized by security forces on a daily basis, dares to bite the hand that feeds them.

Clearly, this incentivised silence also speaks of their greed both severally and as the organized societal groups they represent in this rough extrapolation, for herein lies the clearer picture of who think they stand to lose if the country gets democratised. These ‘silent voices’ are screaming in their support for the status quo. And because the recent deaths, like all other emotional torture spanning over decades, were ordered by the king, these sampled individuals are accomplices and are guilty of our collective massacre.

What we have lacked are ‘insiders’ who have the moral courage ‘to bonga that thing’ each time they ordered to kill us.