It is understandable for the country’s activists to be frustrated by the government’s failed attempts to convince the world that Swaziland is a democratic country and that the system of governance was “chosen” by the people. Both these are obviously ridiculous claims. What pro-democracy activist need to understand however is the fact that no government in this day and age ever admits to being a dictatorship. A government founded on immorality needs to perpetuate that immorality in order to complete the cycle of lies.
After repeated debates between the two sides it has emerged that some of the slogans created for the Pro-democracy campaign lack clarity and can be confusing to the average man on the streets. Worse is the fact that the dictatorship uses this can of confusion to hide from the real issue in Swazi politics.
The issue in Swazi politics is not the participation of political parties in the country’s politics. The issue is that the country’s population has no political power. The April 12 movement needs to reiterate this issue until it is part of main stream thought.
Political power in a country is held by the person or people who command the state apparatus, the army, police, executive government and legislature. In Swaziland that person is the king. The monarchy has unrivalled and uncontested power. This is the reason why the country cannot be anything other than a dictatorship.
The king is the commander in chief of the armed forces; he appoints the entire cabinet, senior civil servants, the judiciary and one third of the legislature. This is how and why his will becomes government policy, and it is the primary reason why he has the lion’s share of the country’s resources. He wields so much power and therefore he is a dictator.
The only way in which Swaziland can be a democratic country is if the people can be the ones who elect the individual or organization which forms the executive government and appoints civil servants; if the people elect a chief justice who can in turn appoint his juniors; and if the people elect all parliamentarians. This is the shift in power which Swaziland needs, and it is the kind of shift in power which would put them in the driver’s seat of the country. If is what we are fighting for.
Political parties are welcome; it is a basic inalienable human right to allow people to form groupings which will contest power. There is no referendum needed to decide on this. A political party is no different from a family or any other organization where people who share certain values can assemble together for a common purpose.
The king, if he wants to, can easily allow these parties to still vote for the bread crumbs of a useless rubberstamp parliament which people currently vote for but that would not make the country a democracy. In contrast, if the people can simply decide not to form political parties but take power from the king and choose their own executive government, judiciary and parliament that would be a functional democracy. People Power is the “it and all” of democracy. This is why the “People Power” slogan needs to be at the forefront of all our communication, not “multy-party”.