Part I: to elect or not to elect a Prime Minister?

Some reflections on what Bacede Mabuza and other members of Parliament’s suggestion that the people elect their own Prime Minister might look like in practical terms.

“My final prayer: O’ my body, make me always a man who QUESTIONS.” These words of Frantz Fanon are a most fitting and timeless instruction to the world he dedicated his life to help liberate this our African continent.

Why would Fanon wish that he (and we) forever question?

Quite simply, it is because in questioning we find the answers. This eternal curiosity is precisely what has rendered our species so successful in advancing knowledge. In essence, this is a call that humanity should seek to forever evolve intellectually. And it is in questioning that confusion gives way to clarity. It is a formula for political awareness and self-emancipation from mental slavery. But enough about the philosophies of Fanon.

The matter at hand is the political crusade for democracy by three Swaziland members of Parliament: Bacede Mabuza, Mduduzi Simelane and Mthandeni Dube. What they have done, by breaking ranks with the rest of their colleagues and calling for democratic reform, is laudable. Laudable as it may be, there is an extent to which it becomes confusing and ultimately presents the entire country with a challenge, a challenge to self-reflect, to question.

Hosea MP Bacede Mabuza has asserted that the current system of governance is flawed, ineffective and downright broken. It is a system which can be compared to harnessing a donkey and a mule. These two animals have different body sizes, strength and temperaments. Harnessing them together is a recipe for disaster. Mabuza’s solution to this conundrum is simple and concise: an elected Prime Minister. And that is where the questions unleash themselves.

How will this work?

This elected Prime Minister, will he wield any political power? Swazis are aware that political power in this country is vested in the monarchy. It is in the preamble to the constitution. Political power, land, all minerals under the land, Tibiyo, all basic human rights, and pretty much everything else, is held by the king IN TRUST for the nation.

In its rephrased form, this question is asking if the monarchy will cease being an absolute monarchy with executive, legislative and judicial authority? Will it become merely ceremonial?

If the answer to the first question is that you advocate for a Prime Minister who has executive powers, then the next logical question is: Does the honorable one personally see the current monarch allowing this to happen peacefully and enthusiastically?

If not, then how does he suggest we persuade it? Or should we simply overrun it and forcefully establish a democratic dispensation, where political power is vested in the people, then later on invite our dear royal family to sit on the powerless throne that we have created for them? And why even bother with that invitation? If the monarchy does not openly embrace your new vision, and opposes it, then does it not deserve to remain in the dustbin of history?

Our only elected PM

Final question: Have we forgotten that the first Prime Minister of the country was elected? His name was Prince Makhosini Dlamini. He was handpicked by King Sobhuza II to FRONT for him as the leader of the Imbokodvo National Movement. Once the people of Swaziland had voted for this man, he subsequently betrayed them and helped his master to take away from them the very rights to elect their own Prime Minister.

Swaziland’s first democracy was short lived precisely because those who had fought so hard to establish it had underestimated the Swazi monarchy’s desire to rule as an authoritarian institution. They seemed content with living as subjects to the monarchy with the vain hope that they would one day convince enough people to elect them to form a government in the king’s name. Our generation cannot afford to repeat this mistake.

Swaziland’s monarchy was not destined to endure. This is a bitter and hard truth which every Swazi needs to swallow. History has taught us well that every institution which pits itself against the will of the people is crushed and discarded. Our struggle may falter, waiver and sometimes lose its direction. It is however inextinguishable and every time it regains momentum it comes back stronger and more ideologically focused. It will not be long before the end product is clear to every single Swazi.

NB: Lukhele is a Swazi exiled in South Africa. Even though he is the spokesperson for the Swaziland Solidarity Network, he writes in his individual capacity.