Our nation is in dire need of unity, as it is currently being torn apart by hatred and intolerance towards opposing views.

The sooner we do this, the better before we reach a point of no return. Time is relentlessly running out for our leaders to take action and bring our nation together. The "peace" our leaders claim has now been restored is - on the surface - in existence only in the figment of leaders' imagination.

Scratch deeper beneath the surface, there is a simmering cauldron of resentment waiting to explode which might blow everything in its way to smithereens one day, soon. We have been there - two years ago, in June 2021 to be precise. It was a very devastating period which pitted those supporting the system of governance against those not happy about it.

To this day, our unity as a nation is still in tatters. The after shocks of the loss of lives and destruction of property during that tumultuous period is still being felt to this day. It is testimony to the fact that our leaders need to wake up from their slumber and commit themselves to uniting the people, give an ear to those calling for change.

Although it may be difficult to accept change, our leaders must listen to or give an ear to the voices of those who are unhappy with the current system of governance. The use of force to silence dissenting voices or opinions has often caused citizens of undemocratic nations around the world to rebel against authority.

Such had often resulted in anarchy or civil wars. We can't afford to have a sequel to the June 292l debacle. No! In a world that is becoming increasingly divided, it is crucial to lend an ear to those who hold dissenting views. By making an effort to understand the perspectives of those who disagree with us, we can establish common ground and construct bridges rather than walls.

Engaging in dialogue is of utmost importance. For years in this country, there have been persistent calls for dialogue amidst mounting resentment towards the governing system. The tragic events of 2021 serve as a grim reminder that engaging with people is far more effective than using force to silence opposing voices.

Our leaders had previously shifted the goalposts, citing that the violent conditions at the time were not conducive to hold any dialogue. Despite the intervention of regional bodies like the Southern African Development Committee (SADC), our government continued to be evasive over the dialogue issue.

Finally, it has somewhat relented and promised a "dialogue" in the form of the Sibaya forum to be held on October 23 at the traditional cattle byre. Political formations insist that this "dialogue" does not conform to internationally accepted dialogue standards.

They are adamant that they expect an all inclusive dialogue which must be held at a neutral venue, with clear terms of reference, and overseered by a neutral party. They have a point. Dialoguing is a very serious business and holding it at an imposing venue such as a royal venue is definitely not comfortable to some people.

There are fears that those who will be given the platform for voicing out their feelings might be marked for harassment, and intimidation as it had happened in the past where some of those who criticised the status quo were allegedly subjected to intense persecution by the country's security apparatus. We await with unabated breath to see how this dialogue - if it takes the form of a true dialogue, not a monologue - will take shape or pan out.

Coming back to the uncertainty engulfing the whole country post June 2021, accompanied by voices of dissension. It is without any shadow of doubt that in fear of reprisals, critics of the system of governance had been criticising our leaders in whispers. Those bold enough to do so had often been persistently subjected to intense persecution.

The blame for our national problems had more often than not, been placed more or less on the shoulders of the King as leader of the country. One might ask: Is this fair? Does he rule unilaterally? He has advisors, doesn't he? Is he being given the true picture of what is happening on the ground?

Or is he being told that everything is back to normal and that the people are happy with the system of governance? Are our leaders truly aware of the true sentiments of the people and are they receiving sound advice? However, it is possible that those closest to the King may have personal interests which conflict with the needs of the people and such people may not be advising the King appropriately. 

The mood on the ground is certainly not a happy one. There is so much hatred for the system of governance, it is frightening. Calls for change have been mounting for some time. These cannot be ignored - or brutally crushed any longer. Furthermore, it is concerning that anyone calling for change is viewed as un-Swati or an enemy of the state.

This goes against the grain of respect for the fundamental human rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. It is crucial that our leaders take action to address these issues and work towards a more united and inclusive society. It has often been said that the first step to dialoguing with the aim of reaching common ground is admitting that there is a problem.

There is a serious problem of hatred and intolerance in this country which needs urgent addressing. In order for our society to move forward, it is important to listen to the voices of dissension – those who point out the unforgivable flaws and shortcomings of the status quo.

Only by acknowledging these brutal truths can we hope to make things better. Resorting to the use of force rather than listening to and engaging voices of reason has put us where we are as a country. We are a nation at loggerheads. We cannot run away from the fact that it is the downside of human nature to rather ignore the positives of tolerance for dissenting voices and focus on the negatives of such.

It is human nature to want to live in a happy bubble where everything is perfect. But the problem with this approach is that it ignores the very real problems that exist in the world and prevents us from working - together - towards solutions. Voices of dissension need to be accommodated. It would be folly f everyone were to always agree.

If such were to happen there would be no progress. It is the voices of dissension that push society forward and force us to re-examine our assumptions. They make us question why things are the way they are and whether or not there is a better way. There are so many causes of the resentment against our leaders.

One of the chief causes is nepotism. Opportunities often fall on the laps of those that are connected to the status quo. Political appointments favour those who are subservient to the system of governance. There is repeated recycling in political appointments of those who have gone past their sell-by dates.

Unemployment is rife and those who have served in key positions have reached retirement age and were loyal to the system are often rewarded with appointments, shutting out the doors of opportunity for the younger generation. Corruption is very rife in the country and this is not adequately addressed.

Those connected to the status quo get richer, while those who are not, continue to wallow in sheer poverty. It is important that the country's resources are distributed fairly among the people. My wish is for the leaders of the country to play a unifying role. Those closer to the status quo should play the leading role in advising our leaders on how best - for the benefit of everyone - the political situation can be handled amicably.

We cannot afford to be sworn enemies of each other. We are blessed to be a nation of one ethnic group. Let us use that to our advantage.