As the noose wrapped around the neck of the Tinkhundla system tightens, it is time for our leadership to start thinking about offering guidance to the many good Swazis who to some extent are connected to the maintenance and operations of the Tinkhundla system.

Africans are well known for their forgiving nature, however, given the brutal extent to which Mswati and his armed forces have gone, it is impossible to simply forgive without trying the perpetrators and undertaking a process of restitution.

From the unwitting revelations of Jeffrey Shabalala, we know that the king is behind the mass murder and brutality visited upon the Swazi people.

This massacre will be with this generation of Swazis for the rest of our natural lives or even longer. Furthermore, the pain of these senseless atrocities is yet to be felt to its full extent. The precious lives of the many people who have perished simply because of one man’s stubbornness has left our collective spirits in a permanent state of unease and restlessness.

Adding insult to injury are comments by those close to the king or those attempting to ingratiate themselves with him and needless to say. These comments have been highly upsetting. Take for instance Sikhanyiso’s blatant lies about foreign mercenaries at the height of the death of out people by the armed forces under the orders of her father. 

We are also instantly incensed when we remember the half-truths and blatant fact twisting by Manqoba Khumalo and Neal Rijkenberg on South African news channels. Or by Thuli Dladla who has on numerous occasions seen it appropriate to taunt ordinary freedom-loving Swazis, her latest infraction being her recent request for “sisi Skha” (Sikhanyiso) to shut down the internet just before the launch of the new political entity called Swaziland Liberation Movement (SWALIMO).

It should be made clear to these people that they have made a conscious decision to side with the oppressor no matter how extreme and violent his actions have become. It cannot be said of Sikhanyiso, or Manqoba or Neal or Thuli that their actions were not motivated by self-interest and that they were just simply “doing their jobs”. 

While I have singled out a few notable enemies of the Swazi people, they are part of a larger grouping of offenders who at some point should be hauled in front of a competent judicial system to account for their misdeeds.

It is at this juncture that this lowly opinionator would like to suggest something slightly counterintuitive, for it is very tempting to condemn all those connected to the Tinkhundla system, to the same fate as Mswati and his acolytes.

The very fact that Tinkhundla is a highly imbalanced system where the benefits of power are enjoyed by a limited few tells us that there are many honest people without whom the system would instantly collapse. 

One is reminded of the fact that Sikhanyiso also draws a salary as a police officer and this seemingly has not caused the majority of policemen and women from absconding en masse even though it has become apparent that one doesn’t need to report to work to earn a police officer’s salary.

We also have to appreciate that it is only recently that calls by the pioneers of democracy in this country have been vindicated at a mass scale. Many who have recently become proponents of democracy were in the recent past, highly sceptical of the democratic movement.

Whether it is through the success of Tinkhundla propaganda or simple ideological inertia, we are now at a juncture where those who are propping up the system, wittingly or unintentionally, have to make a conscious decision or risk being bundled up with the likes of Manqoba, Sikhanyiso, Neal and Thuli.

It is to these people that this lowly opinionator suggests a form of solidarity with the oppressed, and a form of resistance to the oppressor, referred to as “civil disobedience”. Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal of a citizen to obey unjust laws, demands, orders or commands of a government, corporation or other authority.

One is reminded of the 17-year-old boy arrested after a recent looting incident, who is being tried for treason and has been refused bail by the state. Had any of the arresting officers, or the state attorney or the magistrate disobeyed their unjust orders and refused to participate in this travesty of justice, there wouldn’t be a distraught and devastated mother or a young boy languishing in prison without good reason.

One is also reminded of the voice notes addressed to Sihlongonyane, the now-famous police officer accused of shooting at protestors indiscriminately, asking why he doesn’t aim his rifle to the side instead of shooting bullets directly into the flesh of our people.

I am also inclined to believe that it is not Sikhanyiso herself who turns off the internet switch at MTN or Swazi-mobile, and that some lowly technician or engineer is the final executor of the task. One asks herself, how could it be that in this country an ambulance will not attend to an emergency because there is an apparent shortage of fuel, but the employees at MTN cannot find one out of an infinite number of technical and esoteric reasons, why they cannot shut down the internet.

Undoubtedly there are many other similar scenarios, but the principle I am proposing is the same. If it were not for these civil servants and employees of the state blindly and unquestioningly following unjust orders from above, the damage emanating from a stupid or evil order by Jeffrey Shabalala, Tsintsibala Dlamini, Sikhanyiso or Mswati would be constrained.

And, perhaps more importantly, to those who are in the tough position of being in the employ of the state, civil disobedience would add some semblance of morality to a job that has been corrupted by the greed and self-interest of the king and his bootlickers.

Help us advance dynamic research, cutting-edge investigation, fearless and credible Journalism that holds the powerful accountable. Kindly donate to a publication that gives meaning to the news through nuanced and penetrative commentary, deep and credible research and more than anything fearless investigative journalism.

  • RSA FNB Account:
  • Account number: 62387624953
  • Branch code: 250655
  • *Cheque account