CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR NEW PRIME MINISTER RUSSEL DLAMINI BUT KING STILL DOES NOT GET IT
Over the last couple of days people were ´campaigning’ at the Sibaya ´dialogue´ in order for the King to appoint them as Prime Minister and various other positions.
There is nothing unusual about the Sibaya talk shop except this time around there was the App that made people feel like they were contributing to the King´s decision on the eventual Prime Minister. “It’s a caricature of democracy”, some foreign newspapers wrote of our version of democracy at the start of the Sibaya dialogue.
The world doesn't understand how people campaign to the appointing authority not the people for executive positions. Call it Monarchical democracy if you like. Back in 1978 when Sobhuza unveiled a hereinto unknown system called Tinkhundla people voted for parliamentarians believing they would be their new legislatures only for them to be told they would constitute an electoral college that would advise the King on who he should appoint to parliament. 45 years has taught us that change so they can remain the same in this country.
Two years ago the people rose up to demand the right to vote for a Prime Minister of their choice. The Monarch promised to hold a dialogue to address their concerns. Two years passed and he came up with the idea of open campaigns at Sibaya assisted by an App for people to exercise some phoney voting rights. As expected he disregarded everything to choose Prime Minister Russel Dlamini. Not even a violently suppressed uprising has made the King want to give in, even if it meant just a little bit.
The choice of his Prime Minister is telling of how obstinate the Monarch is. We now know that no outside or internal pressure will make him give in even if so little of his power. And take nothing away from our new Prime Minister, a relatively young, bright and energetic mind, the fact that he will be eating from a poisoned tree eats away at the legitimacy of his power. How beautiful would it have been had Dlamini been a popular choice voted for by the people in an open and democratic election and was only just blessed ceremonially by the King at Sibaya.
And the fact that he is a male and a Dlamini, following a long tradition of appointing people from the King´s clan, means that the country is a fiefdom full and proper. It is even more painful to imagine that such a deserving man like Dlamini will from now on turn his back on the people to serve the King and his heirs as commanded by the constitution of the land.
The legitimate demands of the people cannot be wished away though. They can only be pushed under the rug under our collective self-delusion that the people´s anger has died down. To Dlamini, we reluctantly congratulate him and implore that he works within the limits of his constrained power to address the crisis at the University, to give the sting back to the Anti Corruption Commission, to deal decisively with the drug shortage and collapsed health and to throw all his might to fight youth unemployment and poverty.
We know his priorities will be determined at Ludzidzini but during his spare time let him do something to transform the lives of ordinary people. Otherwise good luck Nkhosi serving the King and his heirs and wiggling your way through the patronage network that competes for the king´s favour and attention.