The Last Line of Defense for the Swazi State!

Inherently, the state functions to serve the long-term interests of the bourgeoisie class because in a capitalist society the state’s role is to regulate class conflict.

This is necessary because of the irreconcilable class interests between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In a country like ours, characterized by semi-feudal and neo-colonial social relations the state serves the interest of the ruling class which, in our case, is the royal family.

In carrying out this mandate, the state uses two forms of power—soft and hard power. Soft power is the ideological arm of the state (education, media, culture, tradition, religion etc) and hard power (repressive security apparatus, judiciary, laws etc). It operates primarily by means of mental (latent) and physical (actual) coercion and violence.

The ideological apparatus focuses on the battle for the minds and hearts of the people – winning the masses over into believing that it is correct for them to be governed in the manner they are and to legitimise and rationalise it. The hard power is required to repress and subordinate rebelling classes as and when required and by using violent means where need be.

While the repressive apparatus (courts, police and army) has been somewhat active against human rights activists and freedom fighters in eSwatini over the years, Tinkhundla has always relied on the ideological power as the most dominant instrument to rule unto the unsuspecting majority of Swazis. 

The regime has gone out of its way, in a preposterous way, to deny media space and opportunity for the liberation movement as it exploits it for its own benefit. Songs, poems, praises, slogans, radio programmes, speeches, cultural and sporting events, religious campaigns and education curriculum have all been unleashed in propaganda warfare against democracy. Through these methods, they have formed and promoted ideas they used for oppressing the nation.

In "The Ruling Class and Ruling Ideas" Karl Marx and Frederick Engels argue that the prevailing ideas of a particular society are formed by the ruling class to express and justify their position. 

Marx and Engels argue that the class that controls the material production also controls the "mental production." While regular citizens are busy with their day-to-day tasks, some within the ruling class take on the function of "thinkers" and actively develop and promote certain values and messages. 

To a larger extent, those in power have to justify their dominant position by coming up with a detailed explanation of why it is right and proper for them to have so much wealth and power and others to have so little. These ideas eventually become widely accepted by the masses of the people, hence Marx and Engels conclude that, "the ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas; the class which is the ruling force of society is at the same time its intellectual force."

In the case of eSwatini, the ruling family has used everything at its disposal to propagate certain values and ideas which have come to be accepted as alpha and omega. The monarchy has relentlessly pushed values and ideas which had become the pillars that support their prolonged stay in office. They have used television, radio, art and other forms of media to promote their backward values and ideas. 

That is why people could turn a blind eye to what the ruling class was doing and the democracy struggle was only pursued by a few activists who, clearly, saw what a majority of us could not see at the time. 

There used to be a few people during political meetings, rallies and protest activities and one could not be faulted in making the point that perhaps the democracy campaign was spearheaded by a handful that was merely disturbing ‘peace and stability in the country’, as they used to say. 

That is why the regime could ridicule activists and make it seem the struggle was an import from foreign lands and not from Swaziland. Surely, the ideological apparatus of the state was in full swing at the time. But that was then. Things have changed, isn’t it?

The revolutionary moment has come; those who used to abuse the ideological apparatus, mainly radio, to lie about the struggle being driven by foreign elements are today eating humble pie. Who can deny that the freedom struggle is truly Swazi and born of the struggles, interests and aspirations of the ordinary people of Swaziland? 

Events of the past few months have succinctly demonstrated to all and sundry that our revolution is not an import from somewhere, but an organic expression of the genuine desires of our people to change their lives, to transform their country and to guarantee a better future for generations to come. 

It is shaped by and in the interest of the prevailing situation in the country, its people and their demands. A new and more determined generation has emerged to say: enough is enough! This radical cohort has proven to be the real catalysts for change and their efforts should be encouraged because popular youth struggles can only confirm that the future is in safe hands.

Swazi Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini. The Swazi state has lost legitimacy and now has the police and army as the last line of defense

There is always danger when the struggle is not driven by the masses on the ground. Without the central drive of the masses, the struggle becomes hijacked by an elitist minority and few individuals, claiming to act in the name of the masses or on their behalf without their mandate.

These youth struggles are integral to our democracy struggle because they deepen democracy and ensure greater participation of people, making people more vigilant and aware; they instill a sense of courage among the youth to fight for their rights and be governed by the people who would take care of their livelihood when freedom goal is achieved.

No politician will mess up with this generation when we finally achieve democracy because they would have reached there through sweat and blood. Finally, the people have found a voice and the royal ‘Goliath’ is collapsing block by block. The young people want change and this is not the praise-singing generation that used to shout royal slogans with their hearts. Am I digressing?

Well, indisputably, the country has become ungovernable and the Tinkhundla royal machinery is unworkable. Students are protesting and rejecting monarchical rule; schools are shutting down and the police have no capacity to manage the situation throughout the country. 

Most of the police and army officers can hardly take off-days or annual leave because they are few in number. The royal palaces are highly guarded and security has been tripled; the king’s children are no longer socializing with the people, they now drink their expensive whiskey in royal palaces and private villas – the time to splash tax payers’ money in the presence of the people is gone. 

The Instagram accounts that used to show royal opulence are deleted. Business is panicking and some business people are taking their money out of the country; the economy is suffocating. There is a crisis in parliament. Who would have thought that an Army Commander could be fired like that? The media is exposed. 

The country’s state media propaganda machinery is extinct, with EBIS and Swazi TV vanishing in thin air as the people organize themselves through digital media platforms to express their anger. State propaganda is now exposed to be exactly what it is. The international balance of forces have changed; South Africa’s ANC, EFF, SACP and COSATU have never been this decisive about the change in Swaziland; the UK, US, international NGOs, Trade Unions and others have openly called for democratic change; even a noise-making chap who was sponsored by the Commonwealth to come and rescue the regime has been shamed by the intellectual capacity of our people. 

This is not the Swaziland of 1998 or 2005; this is a totally different generation that is clear about what it wants – freedom. Surely, the royal empire is crumbling!

Now, what does the monarch do? The state has responded with force, and they seem prepared to shoot the people down to the last citizen. The June massacre has been followed by a string of murder instances in which the royal police and army have killed our people in a ridiculous manner. 

People are being teargassed inside buses; some are bundled into military trucks and taken to the forests for torture. The army is all over in the rural areas beating up people and the police are conducting road blocks meant for harassing the people. Hundreds are in prisons and some in exile and others severely injured. Marches have been banned and it is a military state in real terms.

The time for the repressive state apparatus has come. The regime has lost everything: the people no longer listen to its leaders; people have rejected sibaya and are openly expressing their anger on daily basis. Tinkhundla has lost legitimacy; it is no longer able to effectively govern the country as the people daily refuse to be governed the Tinkhundla way. It is consistently facing a deepening crisis and requires a major political overhaul, not minor reforms. 

The system has lost any semblance of legitimacy it once enjoyed as everything comes to the open about its real content and what it is made of. It is facing deep-seated cracks within itself as the ruling bloc itself is no longer enjoying the cohesion of its key social base and forces allied to it, particularly the traditional aristocracy and its key supporters.

So, what is left of the royal misrule? Clearly, the repression by the police and army is the last line of defense, and it remains to be seen if that is enough to sustain their stay in power. Time will tell!