The essence of the struggle

The struggle for liberation of Swaziland has historically been about a fundamental shift and transfer of power from the king to the people. 

This is but the first step, a means towards the end if you like. The ultimate objective of the struggle is the socio- economic upliftment of the poor of the poorest and the historically marginalized. 

Exercising of political power, thorough the election of a Prime Minister or President with executive powers, is a way in which the people can influence how national resources are dispersed. 

We must clarify this because the current political discourse is getting politically empty and veering towards cults and hero worshipping. 

In fact, we slowly degenerating into the politics of spectacle and theatrics with little substance on the direction and nuances of the struggle. 

Others have reincarnated our revered MP’s into messiahs and bark orders that everyone must bow at the alter of this messianic Inc. There is a danger to this especially when it takes the anti organisation posture we have seen on Twitter. Most people unfairly expect our MP’s to have all the answers to a point of disparaging the works of other organisations.

First, we must avoid the temptation of unfairly criticising our MP’s because the role they playing is critical especially because they reach constituencies we have struggled to reach for years. 

However as individuals they can only go so far no matter how well meaning they can be. No struggle has ever been won by individuals without an organisation backing them. 

You can ask Bobi Wine in Uganda he has some interesting lessons. He thought his popularity owing to music would win him votes but he learned the hard lesson that organisations are the alpha and omega in any revolution. 

This is a lesson Julius Malema understood very early and Mamphele Ramphele learned rather late. The result is that the EFF is celebrating eight years and Agang fizzled out. 

We must go back to Kwame Ture for lessons on organizing and mobilizing especially at this juncture of our struggle. Ture teaches us that we must make clear distinctions between mobilizers and organizers. To us Gawuzela, for example, is a mobiliser but not an organiser. 

To be an organizer you must be a mobilizer, but being a mobilizer does not make you an organizer. Ture gives the example of Malcolm X whom he recognises as a great mobilizer and organizer. Martin Luther King was a great mobilizer but not a great organizer. 

When Malcolm went to a place he left a mosque yet when King went to demonstrations, he broke down segregation and he moved on.

As a matter of fact, King was not concerned with organization to the point that even though he was the most popular baptist preacher in America and and no doubt the most loved, he could not become president of the National Baptist Convention because he could not organise. 

This is a lesson those who are anti organisations need to learn very quickly. The struggle must never rely on the brilliance of individuals because we are all fallible and can be exhausted in the long run. 

Even those who mistakenly claim Mandela was a face of Anti Apartheid miss the fact that this was a concerted effort of an organisation he was a member of. Had Mandela been a lone ranger the world would have forgotten about him two years into jail. 

This does not mean at all that our MP’s must form or join a party but it is meant as caution about the importance of organisations in any revolution. Tures goes further to teach us the difference between mobilization and organization. One of the characteristics of mobilization is that it is temporary. 

Organization on the other hand is permanent and eternal. Clear differences must be made because the unconscious can usually be captured easily around one issue items, around mobilization items, but it’s hard to capture them around organization. But these unconscious must be brought to organization.

He continues: “We must transform mobilization to organization. We say the enemy will try to use mobilization to demobilize us. "Many brothers and sisters who’ve been to the million and more march will say to you, ‘I was there.’ Well what are you doing today my sister? ‘I was there. There weren’t too many sisters out there, but you know with a million brothers you know where I had to be. I was there.’ Yes, and then of course you find brothers, ‘I was there, I was there.’ What are you doing today brother?

If we’re not careful, we allow mobilization to become an event. The struggle is never an event it’s a process, a continual eternal process”

Having gotten that out of my chest let me now some to the substantive content of the struggle. The content and political expression of this struggle takes the form of waging a war against gender inequality, under development, environmental degradation, homelessness, poverty, illiteracy, hunger, poor education, corruption, slave wages, inequality etc.

Democracy, therefore, becomes only a method to ensure maximum participation of the people in their own socio economic liberation. Regular free and fair elections is the way in which the masses sanction public policy. Put differently, elections give the masses the power to approve or disapprove public policy (contained in manifestos) through the power of the vote.

This is a very important guiding principle that separates reformists from revolutionaries. It must guide any progressive organisation never to lose sight of what the struggle is about. In the end, the test of whether we have been able to achieve the goals of our revolution is not how many ‘democratic’ elections we have had but rather how many of the previously disenfranchised, marginalized and poor have been uplifted out of poverty and are now living meaningful and decent lives. That is the ultimate test of any democratic revolution. We do not struggle to have a democratically poor nation. Our struggle for is not for the equal distribution of poverty rather the equal distribution of wealth.

Anything other than that is hallow and reactionary. People do no risk their lives fighting a tyrannical regime only to be force-fed meaningless rights and slogans while remaining poor, illiterate, living in misery, homeless and unable to send their children to school. After all, it was Amilcar Cabral who wrote “people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone's head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children...”

In this regard, we must take the example of China as a torch bearer of what a revolution can achieve when properly executed. The World Bank defines the international poverty threshold as disposable income of USD 1.90 a day (PPP-adjusted). Under that definition, 88% of the Chinese population lived below the poverty line in the early 1981. Thanks to the able leadership of both Deng Xiaoping and Xi Jinping, that ratio had fallen to just 2% by 2013. To put this into perspective, the Communist Party of China lifted more than 500 million Chinese out of poverty in just 31 years. This has meant that between 1981–2021 only 24 Million Chinese, in a population of a Billion, are still in poverty. That is revolution!!

We take a cue once again from the celebrated Cuban revolution for it showed in practical terms how the standards of life was improved after the revolution. Figures from UNICEF show that Cuba’s youth literacy rate stands at 100%, as does its adult literacy rate. Compare that with Mexico, where youth literacy is around 98.5%, while adult literacy is at 93.5% or even the Dominican Republic where youth literacy is at 98.1% and adult literacy is at 90%. This, by the way, is a country on economic blockade from the USA and its allied partners. Many of Cuba’s educational gains were made in the early years of the revolution, not least during the 1961 literacy campaign that saw hundreds of thousands of Cubans, including school children, mobilising to educate their compatriots.

Perhaps even more vaunted are claims about the standard of Cuba’s healthcare. Cuba dedicates 11.1% of its GDP to health care while the UK 9.1%. This has led to life expectancy being 81 years for women and 77 for men. In Swaziland, it is a miserable 31 years. While the UK spends $2,475 per capita on healthcare, Cuba spends $3,337. Once again this must be the benchmark with which to measure the success or failures of any revolution, Swaziland included—how has it improved the lives of the people?

In our context, liberal rights like transparency, human rights, free and fair elections are mere modalities that guide us as we maneuver the path towards the ultimate goal of the revolution. In our case, we must stretch the idea of rights and expand the frontiers of freedom. Freedom to us is freedom from poverty and under development. To us people have a right to shelter, to dignity, to education, to medical health and to affordable housing just as they have a right to free speech, assembly and protesting.

It can never be our objective to put our lives on the firing line only to emphasise one set of rights over the other. We refuse to accept the liberal notion that we are fighting for ‘democracy’ instead we are fighting to change and improve the standards of life of our people using the instruments of the state.

The danger of over emphasising the so called fight for democracy is that many Swazis have seen far more poor yet ‘democratic’ countries all over the continent that are far worse than our country. Swazis have seen many ‘democratic’ republics becoming nothing else but new elites using the slogans of revolution to enrich themselves and create far worse parasitic systems to a point that the people even miss the old regimes. This is true all over Africa. In fact, this is tantamount to replacing a kleptocratic royal aristocracy with a new ‘democratic’ elite without a fundamental change in the people’s material conditions.

If that is the case then freedom becomes meaningless. A person living in a shack does not care if he or she now has a right to vote or free speech. That person needs to survive and wants the standard of life to improve. The importance of this guiding principle helps clarify confusion that often arises on the essence of the change in Swaziland.

Given the foregoing It would indeed be a mistake on our part not to put the democratization of the economy and nationalization of Tibiyo and Tisuka as a fundamental none negotiable pillar of the revolution. We must fold Tibiyo and Tisuka back into the democratic ownership of the people as a whole so that we can use the revenue generated by these organizations to uplift the standard of living of our people. Linked to this is of course taking back land from chiefs and giving it to the people to undermine the bulwark and cornerstone of royal supremacy and control.