• Ncamiso Ngcamphalala

Authorities should stop persecuting politicians who speak truth to power.

SWADEPA President Jan Sithole and SNAT President Mbongwa Dlamini

The Swazi Democratic Party (SWADEPA) condemns with the contempt it deserves the attitude of government and the authorities to persecute citizens and in particular political leaders who speak truth to power and have divergent views than those they hold.

We have seen this in prophet Gcina Mtsetfwa, we’ve seen this in Zwemart Martin Dlamini, we’seen persecution and harassment of PPA leadership and this includes leaders of all political parties forming the PPA, who to date, after their houses were raided and properties taken, not all equipment have been returned yet.

One thing in common that these humble emaswati have, is nothing other than telling brutal truth to power which all emabandla who are paid out of the tax payers money to advise truthfully without fear or favour are avoiding, these committees includes; Liqoqo, and libandla labokhololo and the Cabinet.

We condemn the Authorities in persecuting President of PUDEMO, by abusing their powers and breaking all cultural norms, this is unacceptable and unswazi and unconstituional. The irony is that Chiefs as footstools of the Monarchy are supposed to be promoting Culture but in this case the chief has even gone to court to interdict promotion of culture . This is blind hatred to politicians who are citizens of this country, who are creatures of section 25 of the constitution of this country.

In terms of section 63 of this constitution even as individuals citizens have a right to call government and authority to account and even to call for democracy and the rule of law. This action is both unswazi, undemocratic and not in line with the rule of law and the constitution of the country.

The Chief or anyone else or even death cannot stop umtsimba, but in the blind hatred of political leader who talk truth to power, they sent a sheriff instructing The PUDEMO President Mlungisi Makhanya to stop his umtsimba scheduled for this weekend. As long as we have a constitution, chiefs do not have the powers they had in the 1998 Administration Order.

SWADEPA appreciates and support the action taken by Comrade President Mlungisi to challenge this malicious abuse of power by the authorities who at the sametime are to be viewed as custodians of culture, which is a wrong notion, because culture belongs to all the peoples of the Kingdom of eswatini and this means no individual person or structure has the privacy or monopoly to manipulate how culture should be directed, anybody who does that is abusing power that they may not even have in the constitution.

SWADEPA with regards to culture believes the following:

· Culture cannot be privatized

· Culture belongs to all the nation and no individual should claim ownership of culture

· Culture must not be politicized

· Culture must not be patronized

· Culture is dynamic

· Culture must not be commercialized

· In terms of application culture must be voluntary and not forced on to people

· Culture should not be abused

· Culture must not be discriminatory,

as such in this case, if the SWAZI Norm is that Umtsimba, once the date has been announced by the appropriate family, cannot be changed by anyone including death, why is Makhanya family being denied their fundamental cultural right.

The other relevant issue that SWADEPA believes needs to be addressed, is the land question. According to the constitution we all adopted at Sibaya, all land vest in the King who holds it in trust for the nation, in short the land belongs to the people and the King is the trustee, as such it is unconstitutional for chiefs to use land as a punitive tool to the actual owners they hold in trust of, just as it is wrong for the chiefs to sell land because it doesn’t belong to them but they are trustees, imagine what chaos may unfold in any pension scheme if the trustees would use the trust for themselves, but ensuring members and owners of the fund do not get the money, but only at their terms that may change from time to time. This is the chaos taking place at the Swazi nation land.

The original principle of the separation of powers in democratic governance was to protect the citizens and call each arm of government to be accountable and can be checked. In democratic societies when the executive abuses power the judiciary who interpret the constitution provides the solution for the ones abused by the executive. We always trust that the judiciary sees everybody equal before the law. And we believe strongly that our judiciary that is the place we can remain confident.

The good thing about the Individual officers of the Judiciary get so committed to justice that even if the government is undemocratic the court decisions will provide justice without favour or prejudice, as I say that I remember that judicial officers irrespective of the apartheid regime which was discriminating against people of colour, but even under such environment some judicial officers made sure that justice wins. That is why we shall not lose hope.

From where we sit, there is no prejudice that the Chief of Umphakatsi would suffer if the Umtsimba continued, this is completely malicious abuse of power which unfortunately the chief doesn’t have.

If this is allowed according to the chiefs will, this will means that milestone decision pronounces ultra disctatorship, restoration of the 1973 decree and that as a nation we have been deceiving all this time to think we are citizens but we are squartters in our own land and that cannot be acceptable come rain come shine we all have a duty to stand up against such oppression in the name of culture whilst the narrative going to the intenational community is that Eswatini is the most peaceful and respecting country. We cannot afford to be silent in an environment that derives pleasure in the suffering of its law abiding citizens. And further reducing her citizens to squatter/junk status.

SWADEPA is pleased that PPA is looking at this not as a single Makhanya family issue but a collective national concern, it is the nation that has to stand up to defend abuse of their culture.

Jan J Sithole