Wednesday, 23 November 2011

To Boycott or Not to Boycott?

The cultural boycott that is being pursued in Swaziland is quite a contentious issue, if the comments in yesterday's Swazi Observer by Mr. Jiggs Thorne of House on Fire are an indication of how Swazis involved in the entertainment industry are feeling. Boycotts are similar to sanctions in that they try to isolate a country, which is seen to be rogue when it comes to human rights and democracy or other issues of contention
The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), which is at the forefront of this boycott, is supported by some pro-democracy movements in Swaziland, but a crucial question, which is raised in the article in the Swazi Observer, is whether a cultural boycott is having the right kind of impact to push for culture change where human rights and democracy become the norm in Swaziland?  Are the powers that be, being affected by the boycott, or is the impact only being felt by ordinary Swazis who make a living through the arts industry and those who crave more entertainment?

There obviously can be no denying that the boycott has at least elevated conversation about the boycott and the reasons behind the boycott, but there's no knowing what kinds of conversations are being had and whether these views support the call for democratisation of Swaziland or not.  If the majority view in Swaziland is that democracy should be the name of the game, then people need to be prepared to make the sacrifices to attain that over-aching freedom, however those sacrifices need to have an impact in pushing the Monarch to consider democratising Swaziland.  Maybe those leading the boycott need to look at a different strategy that would impact government and the monarch, maybe it's time to push for an economic and tourism boycott and even sanctions?  Would this pressure government to democratise?  Yes, Swazis would suffer more.  Many would lose jobs and many would go hungry, this would affect the tax revenue base for government and pressure government to consider change; but are Swazis prepared to support this or they would rather continue with the status quo?

Ultimately the quest for democracy in Swaziland has to be a mass movement, where the majority of the citizens of Swaziland are prepared to act to attain and defend democracy. 

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