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SADC must guard against Mswati’s Sibaya political dialogue propaganda.

Thursday, 14th July, 2022

As the member States within the Southern African Development Community(SADC)region prepare for the Extra-Ordinary Summit on eSwatini crisis, Mswati might attempt to convince the regional organization to accept his Sibaya as a political dialogue.

Sibaya is not a political dialogue but a traditional forum where previous eSwatini Kings would meet their subjects to discuss traditional issues, a sitting Ludzidzini Governor in his capacity as the traditional Prime Minister normally facilitates the gathering.

It is therefore important to clarify that during Sibaya, women are not allowed to wear pants, black clothes and they are even forced to cover their heads.

This is not done in the spirit of culture and tradition which we,as Swazis embrace, but these are Mswati’s rules linked to the venue(Sibaya) where he performs rituals annually.

Apart from the fact that Sibaya undermines democratic principles, rights of women and the right to freedom of religion, the place is a health hazard with cow dung,flies and mosquitoes.

SADC must commission health inspectors to ascertain if Sibaya, on a health perspective, is conducive for a political dialogue.

But despite Sibaya being a health hazard, participants are forced to sit down for more than six(6)hours.

Once the Swazis get hungry, Mswati emerges, sits on the chair and speak for a few minutes and the traditional Governor will then announce that the King  has prepared some food.

Eswatini has about 70% of the population living below the poverty line and it is part of human nature for a person who provides food to command respect both within the family and politically.

The King looted almost everything, Swazis are poor and Mswati knows that he can manipulate the people with a plate of food.

Furthermore, SADC must not be misled into thinking that Mswati enjoys political support in this country, his supporters attend royal events knowing that they won’t be shot by the police.

The King normally deploys soldiers and the police to shoot citizens and disperse protests so that, in the eyes of the international community, it can appear as if it is him who enjoys political support.

If SADC can deploy peace keeping soldiers to protect protestors, what happened in Sri-Lanka could be witnessed in eSwatini.

Citizens who are against Mswati are tortured, assaulted and killed but those who attend his events are transported with Government trucks and escorted to the Palace.

Anyone who doesn’t understand eSwatini politics and how people are brutally silenced by this cruel regime would conclude that Mswati enjoys political support.

Swazis once used an opportunity to demonstrate that they don’t want Mswati in power during the delivery of a petition to the United States Embassy.

Mswati, after being intimidated by the huge numbers, ordered his security forces to make sure that protests are banned in eSwatini.

Even Municipalities were warned against issuing permits for a protest march, the police would then come in and disperse the protests.

Perhaps it is important to urge SADC leaders to convince Mswati to implement the political dialogue as per the recommendations presented by the regional organization’s Troika Organ.

In the event SADC adopts and accepts Sibaya as a political dialogue, the regional leaders must know that they haven’t solved the problem.

Indeed Swazis know what they want,and that is democracy.

In conclusion, SADC member States must understand that in this country, we have political organizations affiliated to the Multi-Stakeholder Forum, the Political Parties Assembly(PPA) including the three(3) Members of Parliament(MPs) Bacede Mabuza, Mthandeni Dube and Mduduzi Simelane who are supposed to be part of the political dialogue.

Mswati must release the incarcerated pro-democracy MPs and all political prisoners.

The King must create a legal framework for a safe return of political exiles, drop charges against MP Simelane and unban political parties to create a conducive environment for a political dialogue.

These leaders must meet Mswati or his representatives in a fair venue conducive for a political dialogue not Sibaya. 

I don’t want to believe that the dozen of civilians who died during the June 2021 political unrest where fighting for Sibaya.

SADC must guard against Mswati’s Sibaya political dialogue propaganda.
King Mswati.