NEWS FROM THE FUTURE: REPORT FROM THE BRIDGE YEAR 2083
Exactly 60 years ago, the year 2023 to be exact, Swazis stood in line at a national cattle byre in what was then known as Lobamba, obsequiously begging, pleading and literally fawning to the monarchy to appoint a Prime Minister of their liking.
It may sound ridiculous today, but back then Swazis had no rights on governance as this was a preserve of the then ruling Dlamini dynasty headquartered at what was then called Lobamba royal residence.
In what may come as a surprise to many, for over half a century since the first colonial independence in 1968, all governments were appointed by the King, political parties were banned and the Prime Minister was supposed to be male and come from the Dlamini royal family.
And to Swazis this was normal. Back then the ruling Monarch was the late King Mswati III and in 2021 he faced an uprising that was violently put down by the army.
Two years later he called an election and then Sibaya to listen to the grievances of the nation that had caused the failed uprising. Conspicuously missing however were all the grievances that were shared on the now defunct social media platform Facebook that sparked the uprising.
Swazis at the ongoing Sibaya dialogue session
Despite a tumultuous three years of political upheavals the people who turned up for what the then Monarch called “Sibaya dialogue”, none spoke of the education collapse, the University on its knees, the health care on its final dead bed, poor road infrastructure, rampant corruption and unbridled patronage network and capture of the state by powerful forces linked to the royal family.
It was, in the words of opposition party leader Joel Simelane, "a spectacle of massive proportions" as people skirted the issues and spoke what the power that be wanted to hear.
Even more tragic is that Judges would go campaign to be Prime Minister, as was the case with the late Supreme Court Judge Senzangakhona Dlamini, who was wont to twerking for political appointments and then go back to wear judicial robes as an "independent and impartial Judge".
Those who attempted to go off script had their microphone rudely taken from them, at least according to clips shown to this publication of one Sbusiso Dlamini. It was normal for the King back then to invite Swazis, only in their individual capacity, to come to his cattle byre so he could listen to submissions on who he must appoint as the country´s Prime Minister.
There was no agenda and people were randomly selected to speak and their views would be broadcast to the then social media platforms.
Historians record that the monarch was not legally obliged to listen to the submissions and Swazis were allocated three minutes to talk about anything, from incessant floods to how the country needed to change school uniforms right up to which colour of paint parliament building must use.
According to Professor Sipho Gamedze, a historian from the University of eSwatini, Swazis today must appreciate the advances made over half a century later because back then Swazis did not have the right to choose their own government or the Prime Minister and had to beg the Monarch to appoint one they liked.