Not Eternal Enemies
The security forces personnel in Swaziland have never been viewed as eternal enemies of the people. This is because the same policeman, soldier, or warden who metes out brutal force on you is the same one who feeds your friend, comrade and distant relatives.
The only eternal and total enemy of our people is the system of governance which has rendered our people divided, poor and powerless. This system, administered by a family which labels itself “closer to god:” than all Swazis, is the Absolute Monarchy or Tinkhundla.
Playing One Swazi Against the Other
The monarchy plays ordinary Swazis against themselves by being perched at the summit of power. It keeps a large percentage of the population literate but untrained for quality jobs. This is the reserve of poor people from which the security personnel are hired.
In a country will no unemployment and no poverty, this system would fail because no sane Swazi would willingly offer himself to be used to guard the royal family’s privileged position against members his own class and family.
In traditional Swazi society every single member of the nation was responsible for the country’s security and none of them was a salaried employee of the armed forces. It is where the adage, “Nawe Uliphoyisa,” came from.
If this principle had been translated to modern Swaziland then every citizen of this nation between the ages of 18 and 40 would be a police or army reserve, having been trained for this role after high school.
This is how Swaziland could have had a credible security system with enough human resources to withstand any attack. These warrior youth would spend most of their time contributing to the country’s population and only be called to action when needed. This is in contract to the lazy salaried soldiers the country has now, who only work when called to peace-keeping missions outside the country.
However, the idea of training poor militant youth scared the regime stiff and they chose instead to do it the current way because that is the only way they could survive as the only privileged class, playing one Swazi against the other.
The Swaziland Umbutfo Defense Farce(sic) is totally unSwazi. It is a private army of the royal family, not a national defence force. South Africa’s defence force is called, for example, the South African NATIONAL Defence Force (SANDF).Swaziland’s, on the contrary, is called Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force, which underlines the fact that they have nothing to do with the nation but are the king’s personal army toy.
This is the reason why he wants his children to be integrated into this toy as soon as possible because he aims to make them the top lieutenants of that private royal army.
These fat children do no work, whatsoever. Instead they spend their days wasting the country’s meagre resources. They are known to have monthly telephone bills each that amount to more than the yearly salary of their commoner-colleagues.
They do not live in army barracks and rely on rations. They live in palaces and eat only the most delicious cuisine.
They are truly elite, while the “commoner” soldiers are made to do demeaning work like building commanders’ houses, manning endless and useless roadblocks and guarding border gates amongst many other chores.
Hoodwinking the Army
Recently, these commoner-soldiers were starving from the shortage of rations at army barracks. This situation continued without the king or any of his children caring about it. This food shortage was caused by a deliberate ploy by the king and his advisors to end the feeding scheme altogether because they reasoned that soldiers earn more than enough to feed themselves.
When the soldiers expressed great discontent with this new arrangement, and were on the verge of a mutiny, the rulers chose a convenient scapegoat to fire, in Dr. John Kunene. Dr Kunene was the Principal Secretary of the ministry of defence and was due to retire soon. What most people don’t know is that he has been paid to serve as a scapegoat for this terrible miscalculation.
To better understand this scenario used to hoodwink the unsuspecting soldiers, the following story best describes it:
Once, the Chinese warlord, Tsao Tsao, laid siege on a city. During the siege, however, he miscalculated the timing of the food supply from his capital. As he waited for the food to come, he ordered that the soldiers’ rations be reduced. Soon the soldiersl began to grumble as a result of thinking that he was keeping all the food to himself.
Tsao Tsao thus went to his army chief and told him:
Tsao Tsao: I need you to lend me something and you must not refuse.
Army chief: What is it?
Tsao Tsao: I want your head to show to the troops.
Army Chief: But I have done nothing wrong.
Tsao Tsao: I know, but if I do not do this there will be a mutiny. Do not grieve; after you are gone I will take care of your family.
The army chief resigned himself to this fate and was beheaded the next morning. Seeing this, the soldiers stopped grumbling.
This is precisely what befell Dr Kunene. People should ask themselves exactly what crime he committed, sitting in his office in the justice ministry that had anything to do with army rations exept signing a cheque to a distributor once a year.
However, it seems to have served the purpose of fooling the gullible soldiers. This was the king’s fault through and through. His insistence on living lavishly while the rest of the country takes budget cuts was and still is the single greatest threat to the army’s livelihood.
It is precisely because we understand that ordinary soldiers and police are an oppressed lot, even as they are instruments of oppression, that we call upon them to make a temporary sacrifice on behalf of the nation.
The Future Role of the Armed Forces in a Democratic Swaziland
They have a better future in a democratic Swaziland. South Africa was able to integrate Its Mkhonto Wesizwe combatants into the same army that had, for years, fought against it. However, this integration has to be earned by the Swazi soldiers.
They need to join our protest action. This is only risky if they are foolish enough to join without their arms. The Swazi soldiers must take their rations from the army barracks and camping tents and join us on the streets where we will be ushering this regime into non existence.
Their duty alongside us will be to protect the protesters, as the Egyptian soldiers did in Tahrir square. The regime can easily get its unemployed sycophants and tell them to harass both the protesters and unarmed security personnel.
We are also aware that the panic in the regime is caused by the fact that for once they do not have the army commander’s support. He has declared that no soldier will shed the blood of innocent Swazis. This is most welcome. However, as stated, it might not be enough. Protesters need security from agent provocateurs and the like. April 12 is a day of uniting our nation and we expect our brothers and sisters to discard their demeaning role and join in protest.