Democracy protest response: Royal braggers go mute and then hangers on go wild on social media

It feels like yesterday when the country used to be treated to a live fashion show from the accounts of Inkhosikati LaFogiyane and LaNgangaza. If you wanted a party after party Netflixsque type of series, then Inkhosikati LaNkambule was your person. At least with Princess Sikhanyiso we had gotten used to seeing her and Prince Bandzile peddle fake news about either the US election or COVID-19 with reckless abandon.

There was always a daily avalanche of posts from every royal house, until there wasn’t. From July 1st, the royal family has however aggressively acted to scrub their social media presence. From Sikhanyiso removing a post that got her into arguments with several private citizens, to LaNgangaza deleting all her posts except for philanthropic projects. However, the best was reserved for LaFogiyane who has removed all of her posts. The royal family flouted their fleecing all over the Internet until they realized that they had been the ones to radicalize the average Swati, who was at first ambivalent about royalty while others even saw it as a source of pride.

These peeks into their wayward spending revealed that they served no other purpose than to be leeches. The twitter page ‘Swazi royal leeches’ isn’t some sophisticated spy syndicate: all the pictures they post of the multimillion dollar watches the royals wear are from their social media accounts. When Mark Zuckerburg started Facebook all those years ago no one thought it would one day bring down a modern day Marie Antoinette. 

[An Instagram post Phetsile Nkhambule, sister to Inkhosikati LaNkhambule.]

An inept push back and counter narrative

The royal family’s social media influence campaign would be scary if it were not so comically inept. Five days into the protest action, the powers that be decided to mobilize the vast network of peripheral members of the family who have large social media followings (mainly Instagram) to start spreading propaganda. If this counter narrative has Vuma Reputation Management behind it then surely the government wasted a lot of taxpayers’ money if all the best they could come up with was some ‘blame China’ and blame ‘foreign mercenaries’ narrative. First up we have Thandeka Maziya, wife of Diplomat Mlambo.

While the other mommy influencers posted the bland “#PrayForEswatini,” she remained silent until the wee hours of Saturday morning, when she started spreading an article from something called Curiously, that very morning a Twitter account called “TruthInEswatini” started spamming emaSwati who have been tweeting about the situation on the ground with the very same website link. The royal family, whose largesse on watches has no bounds, can’t even spend money on a bot army. In the position of Imelda Marcos is Queen LaFogiyane. Of course, the Queen has gone underground, except to post a confusing story from luxury brands.

In the void caused by her social media absence, Phetsile Nkambule, newly Mrs Dlamini, has come up to shout the country down complete with her irritating bimbo personality. The younger sister of Inkhosikati LaNkambule, she recently married the son to Prince Lonkhokhelo and couldn’t wait to assert her newly found status as a royal by going on an Instagram tirade. Phetsile gained notoriety and internet fame when she used to host parties at her sister’s residence and flout her flashy lifestyle on Instagram week after week. The thought of that ending must have left her petrified, so she took to Instagram live on Saturday the 26th to tell pro democracy protestors that she was speaking from “privilege.”

If comedy is tragedy plus time, then we will all laugh about someone who was married to umtfwana wemntfwanenkhosi thinking they had any real privilege. Proximity deluded people into believing they too wield power. The propaganda being spread by the royal family shoe shine girls and boys begs the question: do they believe this, or are they just telling bold faced lies? LaNkambule’s sister has been posting screeds about them taking back the country at whatever cost. Another hanger on, Nomuzi Ginindza said a prayer of thanks to the military and police for “protecting” Emaswati.

This will surely be a surprise to Inkhosatana Sikhanyiso who told international media that these soldiers massacring unarmed civilians were foreign mercenaries! The thought of a new more freerer eSwatini where people must work for their supper has people running scared. Mswati’s only daughter-in-law Fatima Loureiro has decided to dig her head in the sand and tweet about euros, even when the increasingly fearless Swazis call her out by name. Her husband’s mistress Celenhle Ginindza (daughter of Sthofeni) has dug in and locked her social media accounts. Maybe Fatima as wife must advise the aspirants that silence is golden; prince Mcwasho’s girlfriend attacked a swazi who asked her to delete propaganda on Instagram, telling protesting Swazis to “pray and cry themselves to sleep.”