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  • Ncamiso Ngcamphalala

Tinkhundla system of governance a product of arbitrary imposed 1973 decree.


The father of the 1973 decree, King Sobhuza in this undated picture

Any house is as strong as its foundation. If the foundation is strong the house is sure going to be strong, if the cement mix at foundation is full of sand and less concrete and cement, some day that structure is going to fall and fall dismally for that matter. It is like a marriage developed on one party lying to the other the day the truth is revealed the marriage is bound to break.

It is also important to state that Swaziland was multiparty before independence and was ushered into independence during the multiparty era. I am mentioning this because due to deliberate absence of politics in our schools curricular in all grades, a majority of the people don’t know that Swaziland was ever a multiparty state and the Head of State was a Monarch, and that Swaziland was multiparty even five years after independence until the fateful day of the 12th of April, 1973. Some People don’t even know that the Monarch can co-exist with political parties as it is the case in many economically progressive first world countries.

During the era of multiparty from 1967 until 1973, the country did not have the economic crisis we have which is beginning to be perennial. Everything was manageable, jobs were available, mines were operative, and industry was growing. Even though Imbokodvo National Movement had won all the seats, but because it was a multiparty system, Imbokodvo knew that they should excel so that in the next round of elections they do not lose to other political parties, this was the case because in multiparty system accountability and transparency is an imperative, separation of powers is imperative, the checks and balances are alive, enabled and encouraged, the judiciary is independent, parliament debates are dynamic, robust inquisitory and sometimes prosecutionary. The ruling party had to always run for their money. The role of the Monarchy was well defined in the independence constitution, and did not conflict with any of the arms of government.

Since 1972 after the national elections introduced opposition in parliament, the ruling party had a challenge because irrespective that there had ruled for the first five years of independence, since they had won 100% seats in parliament, as such never debated or disagreed in the first five years of independence, they were no debates, there no dissenting views, whatever was agreed at the party convention and became a resolution worthy of going through parliament, there was no opposition as every member had to say Yes!!! And there was never a Nay.

Of the then twenty-one seat parliament they lost three, whilst they remained the majority, they could not cope with the opposition three members from the NNLC.

The authorities including the King then started plotting how to usurp the independence constitution, ban political parties and completely undermine the Bill of Rights, in essence, and eventually took away peoples power to govern through their elected political parties, removed the rights to assemble, Associate, express from the people by unconstitutionally engaged in a coupe de tat to revoke the independence constitution and peoples role in forming a government and further unconstitutionally centralized the powers of the Judiciary, the legislature and Executive all to the institution of the Monarchy and this decree became the foundational basis of the tinkhundla system of governance.

In law they usually say anything based on an unlawful Act cannot be lawful itself. As Tinkhundla was founded on an unlawful activity, first the coup de tat of the independence Constitution, secondly usurping the independence constitution without a referendum as was dictated by the 1968 constitution itself, fourthly by banning political parties as such killing the voices of dissent and the peoples representation and fifthly banning the civil liberties and fundamental human rights, sixthly by introducing the military not for the purposes of protecting the nation against external invasion, but to enforce the implementation of the unlawful state of emergency decree, seventhly to reconfigure the role of police from that of being law and order enforcers and to provide security for the citizens, they were turned to be organs of anti-change and a machinery to undermine frustrate and arrest anyone who endeavored to use their bonafide God given fundamental rights. And citizens were left with no police to count on, but saw enforcers of a draconian decree the longevity of this era which was over three decades, caused a systemic strategy to hoodwink the world to interpret the strategically managed forced silence for peace.

This tinkhundla system of government developed self and people destructive character, where people’ priorities were neglected, the elderly neglected, health neglected, education neglected, rural roads, people’s needs neglected, public servants needs and CoLa neglected for years, greed escalated to undefined levels, luxurious expenditures in the face of poverty, hunger and scarcity of basic commodities. The system has continued to in the face of this increased prices for basic food, commodities and utilities such as bread, fuel and there is contemplation of increasing electricity tariffs.

The system has further ignored and undermined some positive components of cost cutting measures such as reduction of delegations to overseas trips and others from the road map submitted by the very cabinet they chose. The distribution of wealth continues to favor the few and the majority to feed on the crumbs. This is why the people of the Kingdom of Swaziland have stood up from all sectors of society and mandated the Political Parties Assembly(PPA) to engage in a program of political engagement and dialogue with the institution of the Monarchy, to correct all the political wrongs that have led the country from constitutional monarchy and multiparty system to dictatorship, from enjoying the Bill of rights during the independence Constitution to total frustration of all those rights, from the separation of powers espoused by the independence constitution to centralization of all arms of government under the institution of the Monarchy, moved from benevolence to total greed, from fair and selfless distribution of wealth to skewed and selfish distribution of wealth. From where we sit both as individual and SWADEPA time has come and time is now for political dialogue. Now Tinkhundla can run but cannot hide from the will to overhaul it from the people and the time is now!!!

Jan J Sithole

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