A pamphlet for mass distribution.
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The students of Swaziland and all those who support the right to education for all Swazis showed their unity, resilience and commitment today as they showed up in great numbers to march against the ludicrous proposed scholarship new policy and the reduction of students allowances by 60%.
While the march and subsequent demonstrations are meant to put pressure on the government to end these right-wing policies, it is important that all students understand that these policies are the result of a government that was created primarily to serve the royal family.
It is therefore only logical that if Swazis are to avoid the emergence of such policies they must form their own government. Such a government cannot be a shadow government, or a government in exile. It must be a governing government, which has the authority to create and implement policies. Such a government cannot exist side-by-side with the current one and therefore this Royal government needs to be abolished completely.
In the coming weeks we all should prepare to shake the country and bringing it to a complete standstill once more. Given the unity and commitment displayed today, if we keep this standstill for long enough we can complete our uprising.
It has come to our attention as a movement that certain Swazis who either happen to have acquired South African citizenship fraudulently or are members of the ANC are unhappy when ANC members are called to order for insulting the Swazi struggle.
The fact of the matter is that Swazis have been fighting for democracy and human rights long before some of these ANC members were even born. When South Africans were still walking around carrying dom-passes Swazis already articulated their vision of a democratic Swaziland with basic human freedoms and actually fought for it.
South Africa became a democratic country mainly because the world took a stand against Apartheid. Had it not been for the sanctions against Apartheid and the large volume of arms, military training, political education and other numerous form of material support that the country received from abroad, they still would be living in Bantustans receiving Bantu education and the numerous other indignities which came with Apartheid. Today because they have turned the corner some of them think that they can belittle those who are still in the gutters of dictatorship. This is stupidity at its worst.
It therefore takes a person with a terribly low self-esteem to imagine that Swazis will allow South Africans to insult their democratic struggle and get away with it. Solidarity is not something to beg for. It is simply the logical action of a group of people who are sincerely committed to upholding and spreading the principles of democracy, equality and respect for human rights.
It should therefore be clear that those individuals and organisations who have that commitment within them are already giving material and moral support to the struggle for democracy in Swaziland. By extension, those who are not are indicating that they have no genuine belief in democracy and are only abusing their democratic platforms for self-aggrandisement.
Swazis must understand that they are not doing themselves a favour by going around shuffling with a cap in hand begging for solidarity. The energy that is wasted smooching the asses of South African political parties would be best used fighting the despotic regime in Swaziland. While these organisations should be viewing them as people who are serious with their quest for democracy, they currently view them as nothing but street urchins begging for whatever semblance of fake solidarity that can be eked from the so-called liberating party of South Africa. Get your heads out of the ANC’s ass guys.
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”.
On Sunday, the 15th of January 2012 Coordinating Committee of the April 12 Swazi Uprising Movement met in Madonsa to discuss the state of the movement and the programme of action for the year 2012.
From the discussions held it became very clear that there was an urgent need to clarify the nature of the movement to its members, supporters and sympathizers. Moreover there was a need to strengthen existing units and to embark on a drive to create new ones in every corner of the future republic.
The April 12 Swazi Uprising Movement is a revolutionary mass movement whose primary aim is to abolish the Swazi monarchy and create an Egalitarian Democratic Republic in its place by means of a mass popular uprising. The movement is not a one event movement whose sole aim is to mobilise people to demonstrate on the streets every year on the 12th of April.
Of particular importance to the movement this year is the activation as many underground units in as many places as possible. Experience has taught the Coordinating Committee that the movement’s members lack initiative. No matter how loudly the command of creating movement units is repeated members still fail to do so. As a result of this the Committee has taken it upon itself to take a hands-on approach in the creation and training of the movement’s units in every part of the country.
With these units firmly in place the next logical move will be the decentralization of the decision making processes. All units are expected to be autonomous enough to make decisions by themselves but remain accountable to the rest of the movement. This is meant to enable greater flexibility within the movement and to encourage initiative and creativity.
In the immediate future these units will be responsible for creating village and urban councils all over the country. These councils are to form the foundation for a future participatory democracy which will be based on the principle of absolute democracy – grassroots popular leadership. They will also replace the monarchy’s aristocracy –the Chiefs and their tindvuna – in the coming Republic.
The movement acknowledges the great contribution made by civic organizations in the Struggle for democracy in the country and wishes to extend its hand once again to another year of fruitful partnerships. The April 12 Uprising Movement will always support the initiatives of Unions, Village Associations, political parties and other organizations but always taking direction from them. When these organizations play a supporting role in April 12 initiatives it is therefore appropriate that April 12 Movement activities be directed and led by April 12 itself.
The movement’s Coordinating Committee also recognises the movement’s unique ability to dominate cyber space and multi-media and has chosen to increase its focus on these modern mobilisation tools. The April 12 Swazi Uprising Facebook page has grown to a staggering 3200 members and continues to be as busy as it was initially. It also has affiliate pages such as the “Swaziland Cultural Boycott” and “The Real Staff” amongst other less known groups.
On the other hand the country’s talented revolutionary artists have also recorded songs that are meant to carry forth the message of revolution. In this day and age where the average cellular phone has the ability to access the internet and play music, there is great opportunity to spread our political thoughts to a larger number of people than even the ruling regime, whose broadcasting methods are fast becoming irrelevant.
All members of our movement should therefore seize the opportunity and create poetry and music continuously as a means of mobilising the future republic’s citizens and counter the propaganda spread by the ruling regime.
Popular culture has also played a significant role in creating awareness about our struggle internationally. The Swaziland Solidarity Network’s Cultural Boycott initiative for example has mobilised support for our struggle from many internationally acclaimed artists. The movement needs to define the role that it should play in order to intensify this boycott both within the country and outside.
The movement also wishes to extend its gratitude to all organisations that made the 2011 April 12 mass demonstrations the great success that they were. Our movement can now proudly say that on the 12th of April 2012 it will be celebrating the reactivation of the country’s mass popular movement in 2011 rather than commemorating the declaration of the draconian decree by the so-called king (Mfa)Mona in 1973.
Our movement’s greatest legacy in history so far has been making this day be associated with people’s power rather than the dictatorship of the monarchy. This is the reason why this year’s activities should be greater in number and bigger in magnitude. Swazis of all ages must no longer think of this date with a sense of despair and despondency but rather with pride and dignity.
It cannot be forgotten, however, that two of our finest organisers Maxwell Dlamini and Musa Ngubeni are now behind enemy lines as a result of the regime’s missions to crush last year’s protests. These two comrades must be supported monetarily to ensure that they are bailed out of prison.
It does not paint a good picture of this movement if its members cannot make simple sacrifices for the release of their fellow comrades. All members need to dig deep into their purses and make the necessary monetary contribution. Moreover, they should support the two by attending their trial.
As democrats, as republicans and as revolutionaries our movement’s membership must exhibit the greatest hunger for freedom from this authoritarian regime. The vision that we have for this country is the hardest to achieve, as a result we need to fight harder than the existing civic organizations. The last thing that this movement should do is aim to commemorate decades of failure.
There is absolutely nothing to be proud of in having taken decades to achieve absolutely nothing. With enough courage and determination the movement’s mission can be accomplished in less than one decade. However, this necessitates that all members dig deeper within them and unleash their creativity and passion.
The revolutionary freedom fighter and theoretician, Amilcah Cabral, taught us that no matter how effective a theory may be in one context, that does not necessarily make it suitable for all occasions and in all contexts.
He further encouraged us to always be critical, and to aim to adapt what we learn from other revolutions so that it fits with our realities. Most importantly, we ought to aim to create our own methodology and theory if we are to be effective in our struggle.
Frantz Fanon, writing in more or less the same period, was more specific and addressed the question of the proletariat, the labour federations and unions of African countries in their struggle against imperialism. He describes the attitudes and political consciousness prevalent in unions and exposes it for its legalism, reformism and outright lack of revolutionary content. Two paragraphs, in particular, express his thought aptly.
“The national political parties never lay stress upon the necessity of a trial of armed strength, for the good reason that their objective is not the radical overthrowing of the system. Pacifists and legalists, they are in fact partisans of order, the new order—but to the colonialist bourgeoisie they put bluntly enough the demand which to them is the main one: “Give us more power.”…”
“The peasantry is systematically disregarded for the most part by the propaganda put out by the nationalist parties. And it is clear that in the colonial countries the peasants alone are revolutionary, for they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The starving peasant, outside the class system, is the first among the exploited to discover that only violence pays.”…
The essence of Fanon’s discourse, therefore, is that the working man and woman in a country such as ours is a pampered slave, an uncle Tom if you will. His relative position to the rest of the population is one of material advantage. His actions and ambitions are therefore inhibited. He is hesitant. This contrasts the behaviour of the rural masses, and the unemployed shack dwellers who live in squalor around the cities. These are the wretched of the earth upon whom the revolution should be centered because they have nothing to lose from the present system, and yet everything to gain.
It is futile, therefore comrades, to entertain the notion that Trade Unions, those legalists, will be at the forefront of a revolution. Our efforts, the very nature of our work, must be geared to mobilize the unemployed poor rural peasants to whom legalism is just a mere word, which just as well could mean nothing.
We would like to first and foremost thank the SSN, the ANCYL and all participating South African artists for their remarkable work with the Cultural Boycott. In the long run, people will be able to recognise just how crucial this boycott is to the liberation of the country.
However, there are some misconceptions about the cultural boycott that need to be addressed if it is to have the desired political result in the country.
The first of these misconceptions is that the pro-democracy movement is “anti-fun” and wants all Swazis to be always indoors, preferably reading political material. This is not true. As Swazis we know just how much a few minutes of fun can alleviate the stress that is caused by living in a poverty stricken and undemocratic country.
People must continue to have clean fun in Swaziland. We do not need foreign artists to have fun. Let local artists seize the opportunity now and make the most of it to market their work. The SSN is also organising a big weekend-long “mother of all festivals” specifically for Swazis, which will take place in South Africa soon.
Another misconception is that the cultural boycott is limited to stopping South African artists from coming to the country. This is not true. The best instance of the cultural boycott this year was when poor peasants simply refused to go and weed king Mswati’s fields.
We are honest enough to state that we do not think that those peasants were following our campaign, which they might not even know about. We believe that they were just wise enough to know that they were being abused. For that, we salute them.
The next few weeks will be crucial for us in terms of making people aware of the gross misuse of Swazi “culture” for political reasons by the king. We will need every one of us to take the time to speak with their friends and relatives and make them see the evil intent behind the mass ritual known as Incwala. It must be boycotted.
The last misconception is that the boycott is “uniquely Swazi”. This is not true. Cultural boycotts are older than all teenagers. The world successfully mobilised one against Apartheid South Africa in the eighties and a very strong cultural boycott is currently being waged against Apartheid Israel. In other words, we are not alone in this.
As the cultural boycott intensifies, we hope that our operatives will remember that this is a political statement aimed at the ruling regime, which however, will only be effective if the people understand what we are doing. Let us counter government propaganda, which portrays us as being unpatriotic and unSwazi. Everything that we do, we do for the good of all Swazis.