The balance of forces in the Swazi Struggle are shifting in favour of the democratic forces

Firstly I must appreciate the provocative and penetrating analysis offered by my life time friend and colleague Comrade Bongani Shekeshe Masuku. Comrade Bongani is a seasoned Marxist scholar and has the advantage of integrating superior tools of social sciences in his assessment of our struggle and the emerging balance of forces in the revolution.

My analysis and evaluation on the other hand will be influenced by my exposure to business and basics of physics. Newton’s law of motion describes a phenomenon called ‘centrifugal force’ which has wide applications in industry. We commonly observe this phenomenon in a spinning washing machine. The clothes would be pulled away from the centre onto the perforated cylindrical walls of the machine.

We are observing the same structural shift in the mobilization of the people. The three MPS strategy of moving petitions in all the Tinkundla centres helped to break the barrier to grassroots participation by our communities. PUDEMO and the other political parties were quick to move into the space to enrich the petitions, inject passion, colour and determination by the youth.

The mobilization of the youth towards the delivery of the petitions was broad and wide scale touching throughout the communities serviced by the 59Tinkundla centers. Social media created powerful images of an angry youth tired of being the doormat of the King Mswati regime.

The convergence of the democratic forces with the three MPs was not a heist as The Nation Editor Bheki Makhubu suggested but a powerful platform that coordinated the rebellion against the regime. This was not like the 1977 teachers’ strikes in that this time around is the people’s anger was much bigger and deep-rooted in the socioeconomic conditions of our people.

The king’s cruel and cold blooded execution of over 70 unarmed citizens shocked the moral conscience of the nation. Swazis at home and abroad were angry and traumatized by the senseless killings. 

It is my considered view that this outrageous act of cowardice has not only angered and radicalized the youth, it perhaps has mortally wounded the legitimacy of the king. It was not surprising, therefore, that the people respected the unified call by the democratic forces to boycott the king’s event. 

This is an unprecedented act of defiance in the history of Swaziland. Further, the democratic forces have made historic gains during this moment and are emerging as winners of this battle of minds.

Former Ilovo Managing Director Mandla Hlatjwako. He says the king has failed as a leader.

The struggle has indeed gained momentum inside the country, the support base has substantially grown and the moral high ground and global solidarity is with the democratic forces. I want to suggest that the momentum of the past month is still with the democratic forces.

The playing field is opening up more opportunities in favour of the democratic forces to consolidate and claim more ground. The compelling message from comrade Bongani is that we must double our efforts to take full advantage of the battleground. 

We must strengthen our leadership capacity and make the most of the weaknesses of the king. We must mobilize and focus the participation of all Swazis at home and in the diaspora.

The Poison Chalice.

The structure of the Swazi economy and the king’s autocratic rule constitutes a poison chalice for the king and the institution of the Monarch. The king is doomed by his greed and lack of accountability while the institution of the Monarch is doomed by the failure of the members of the institution to hold their king to account.

There is no one now capable of calling the king to order or rebuke his rogue behaviour or conduct. In terms of the 2005 constitution and customary laws (ruling with chiefs) the king is not accountable to the Swazi nation or anyone else and is increasingly projecting himself as the mighty god of the Swazi nation.

He openly flouts the constitution with impunity. He changed the name of the country from Swaziland to eSwatini (wrongly called Eswatini) outside the law, he appointed the late Mandvulo Ambrose Dlamini as Prime minister and now Cleopas Dlamini in violation of the very constitution that demands that the prime minister must be chosen from the pool of members of the House of Assembly (S67.1).

He awarded himself the MTN shares which actually belonged to the government through post and telecoms. The king controls the public purse and also dominates all sectors of the economy for his personal benefit.

It is estimated that the king owns and controls 60 percent of the domestic economy. This economic power derives from his absolute control of the resources of the state including the power to divert resources already allocated to the various government ministry to fund unplanned royal duties and other royal commands.

Furthermore, his partnerships with people that do business with the state, his pervasive influence over the provident, civil servants and pension funds, parastatal companies, Tibiyo, Tisuka, corporate leases of swazi nation land, business interests held on the king’s behalf by multitudes of proxies (such as prominent individuals, his children, private companies like Southern Star, Inyatsi and other financial structures in the economy). 

 A cursory review of the government income and expenditure account published by the central bank clearly illustrates that a substantial income that should be contributing to the development of the people is not part of the public purse. This is more than just Tibiyo and Tisuka.

Some funds are paid directly to the king and the Swazi national treasury. The repugnant response of the king to the petitions and the resistance to the demands for political and constitutional reforms is due to the potential loss of this economic power. 

I, therefore, agree with the recently published second part of comrade Bongani’s analysis and is in fact aligned with my point of view.

The struggle has reached a tipping point and the regime knows it. Let them feel the unity of our forces on the ground inside and outside the country.

my contribution to the debate sparked by Bongani is that let us ensure that we lift our leaders and make them what they should be—pathfinders. Where we observe gaps let us offer solutions as clearly demonstrated in the second part of comrade Mashekeshe’s analysis. We must remember always that leaders are made and not born.

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