The irresistible force paradox, also called the shield and spear paradox, is a classic paradox formulated as 'what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?' For decades, King Mswati has been that immovable object. But just like in physics, an unstoppable force possesses infinite energy, so is the will of the people of eSwatini. Not Mangololo or Sibahle Sinje, not his army and helicopters, not even his divinators and magicians will be able to stop the force of change that has come to Eswatini.

We came into this hoping to usurp power from a monarch, and weaken the institution such that it was only a ceremonial position. We foolishly thought that an absolute autocrat who rules by his breath would loosen his grip if the country got too hot. We thought that the vast investments in the armed forces were a deterrent to uprisings and would not be used to massacre citizens. Well, our collective naïveté has been forced to come to terms with one inalienable truth: a King has never relinquished power just because people asked nicely. Those choppers and guns were used to preserve his power. Mswati remains on the throne, despite our best efforts at reaching a peaceful resolution.

A great analogue for the Dlamini dynasty is the Romanovs, who ruled the Russian Empire for centuries. They too had luxury hitherto unheard of; castles, jewels and of course disdain for their people’s suffering. A beloved king was succeeded by his moronic son, who was incapable of making a good decision, plunging his country into economic ruin, until one day they decided enough was enough. All the people wanted was a representative government, and he gave them a Duma - which was just a rubber stamp for his power. That first revolution was a minor blip and the imperial family continued on until the army pointed their weapons at civilians. When the end came for them, it wasn’t exile in St Helena like Napoleon, or fleeing in a citrus crate to England like the Greek royals. For the Romanovs, it was extermination of the entire royal family to guarantee no successors. Is that the path Mswati wants for his children?

We can lie to ourselves and pretend there is an amicable solution where Mswati takes on a ceremonial role like Elizabeth II but for the British Monarchy to relinquish power required centuries of fighting, factionalism, and even a beheading. Even if Mswati came to the negotiation table and agreed to be a Constitutional Monarch, how do we go to people who have lost their loved ones, murdered at the orders of a tyrannical king, and tell them their taxes should continue supporting him? How do we tell people who have been jailed that the tyrant who abused them was free to move and live in luxury? Surely that would be a betrayal of the struggle.

There was a video some years back where a lion breeder was attacked by one of his animals. Because the beast had tasted human blood, it had to be put down. Our lion, a beast of another species, has now tasted blood. He has seen how effective violence can be at quelling unrest and instilling terror in the population. After all the blood that was shed on his orders, do you think he would relinquish that for the purpose of waving and being told by a civilian government what to do?

The foremost danger is that King Mswati will always have a constituency. From Dlamini I all the way down, the size of the royal family has grown exponentially. These are people whose livelihood and personal identity is tied to the Monarchy. As appealing as the idea of him being held at Mawelawela can be, his legions of supporters would try to break him out. Let us disabuse ourselves of the notion that common sense is common: Mswati still has support.

His supporters may be beneficiaries of the regime but they are still a sizable number. King  Mswati remaining in eSwatini, whether imprisoned or diminished in stature, means he will always have space to stage a comeback. The alternative is exiling him to the Gulf or Europe. Again the question comes up: on whose dime? Are we to give him a jet and money, symbols of his oppression, and liberate him to continue living in luxury? Now just imagine Makhosetive Dlamini, a private citizen, free to travel the globe and throw stones at the democratic government trying to rebuild the country he destroyed. It’s not feasible.

What we are viewing is a moment without precedent. As honorable as the petitioning of the US and other international bodies were, Mswati presents a situation none of them have dealt with. He is a king. Whether or not we want him there, he still holds all sovereign power in the country. There is no handbook for removing a monarch, at least in the 21st century. Even in the 20th century, the monarchs who were deposed were not as absolute and entrenched as Mswati is.

Which brings us back to the Romanovs. When they were deposed, the entire imperial family - the Tsar (King), Tsarina (Queen), Princesses and the Tsarovich were killed in a basement. A family of seven wiped out to cut the main branch of a 300 year old dynasty. In the 104 years since they were culled, a monarchy has never risen in Russia. In the case of eSwatini, the King has 40 children. Not even the most cold blooded revolutionary would call for murdering them, but how do we ensure that the Dlamini fiefdom never rises up? Mswati is not some random general who deposed a leader and took power for 30 years - he is the latest offshoot of a family that has been around for 300 years. That history cannot be extinguished without committing genocide. However, Makhosetive Dlamini is just a man. And men expire.