Swaziland Is No Different From Apartheid South Africa
The Swaziland Diaspora Platform believes that the government of King Mswati III is now synonymous with the Apartheid government. It is getting brutal and infringing on the rights of the people of Swaziland more everyday because it is confident that the people of Swaziland remain fearful of violence and the international community is not interested in the small country of 1.1 million people.
In it’s latest show of arrogance and forceful disdain of any form of dissent, the government ordered the police, army and correctional services officers to use force to stop a legally sanctioned strike and protest action by teachers, this eventually culminated in the shooting of two young children as the King’s armed forces attempted to disrupt an otherwise peaceful protest march.
This happens as South Africa commemorates the heroics of youth that culminated in mass action in June 16 1976, where the imagery of Hector Pietersen, a young boy shot by the Apartheid police during the student’s protest, still evokes painful memories of that painful past. Such violence by King Mswati’s armed forces on the St. Andrew’s pupil is indicative of a ruthless and selfish regime that is using all means to prevent transition towards a government that will be accountable and responsive to the needs of the people of Swaziland, the majority of which live below the poverty line.
It is time for the youth of Swaziland to salvage their future and stand up against the government of King Mswati III. If they continue to be bystanders then the Swaziland they will inherit will be worse than it is today. Mswati III will have plundered the few natural resources and economic competitiveness the country has. The economy will grow at a negative rate, meaning jobs will continue to be lost. Parents currently employed by government will be forced to retire without pensions, as government already owes the civil servants pension fund over R600 million.
The Swaziland government and the Monarch have gained confidence that the people of Swaziland will not turn to the streets and revolt as it happened in North Africa. Unfortunately the Arab Spring led by youths in North African countries like Egypt and Tunisia did not trickle down to sub-Saharan countries as would have seemed likely as many sub-Saharan youth sit with similar if not worse dissatisfaction than their north African counterparts. The origins and mass mobilisation towards the overthrow of governments in Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt were covered extensively in media, yet in Swaziland there was little street protestations against the government, even though there's nationwide sentiment that change needs to occur.
The Swaziland government, like the Apartheid government, controls the quality of education and information accessible to Swazis. It serves the government of Swaziland and the monarch to keep the majority of Swazis poor, that way they are too busy trying to survive instead of meeting, talking and collaborating on forcing a transition towards democratisation. It serves the government of Swaziland to limit access to media, Internet and information, because it makes government the sole provider of knowledge ensuring that the majority of Swazis have no idea how much power they can amass and what they can do with that collective power to usher in a democratic government that is keen to serve the interests of the people and not the few who are in good stead with the monarch.
There are a few reasons why there was no "Arab Spring" in Swaziland and most of the reasons are particular to Swazis. These range from the very limited Internet penetration, to highly censored media and the indoctrination of cultural and identity attributes that make it difficult for Swazis to rebel against the King.
Due to continued maladministration and lack of political will to effect necessary changes, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank have withdrawn from Swaziland and are not offering any support to help government put financial governance systems in place and reduce its expenditure, which would make it easier for government to access funding towards key areas like health and education. Instead government has increased VAT to get more revenue directly from people, who are already tightly squeezed and increased funding allocation to the large Monarch and its supporting institutions. The economy is stagnant and is projected to remain so for the next few years. It is a bleak outlook for the youth of Swaziland indeed.
Socio-economic conditions are getting worse in Swaziland. The quality of education and health care is weakening every year, making it more costly and difficult for Swazis to pursue higher education and employment inside and outside of the country. Government increasingly relies on donor funding for health and education programmes, and there's decreased support for university students. The nature of the State prohibits any form of exchange of information and knowledge that is not generated by State machinery, and has recently announced it has started looking into passing legislation that will censor the internet in Swaziland. The Swaziland Diaspora Platform urges the youth of Swaziland to fight for their future, before there is little left to fight for.