Without the hint of a blush on his cheek, Swaziland’s unelected Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku has branded democrats who are calling for a boycott of this year’s national election, ‘cowards’.
Masuku said members of banned groups could only write graffiti on walls. The Times of Swaziland newspaper reported him saying, ‘If you go about writing graffiti and forcing people to follow you, it is a sign of cowardice.’
He added that Swazis were in favour of the present system of government. This is known as Tinkhundla, and under this system political parties are banned, no members of the Senate House are elected by the population (two thirds are directly appointed by King Mswati III) and only 55 members of the 65 member House of Assembly are elected by the people.
Masuku said those opposed to the election were trying to force people into boycotting the vote. ‘So why force them to do something they do not want? this is a sign of cowardice because it means you cannot defend your stance,’ the Times reported Masuku saying.
But, as anyone who is observing Swaziland, and there are increasing numbers from across the world doing so now that the election process in the kingdom is underway, the Deputy Prime Minister is talking nonsense.
The regime, headed by King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has steadfastly refused to allow any discussion about the election or the political system in the kingdom to take place.
In the past few weeks alone, state police have broken up prayer meetings, a public meeting and a rally. All were designed to get people talking about the elections. The state police, most often acting without a court order or a warrant, say such discussions are a threat to state security.
Some organisers of these meetings have been charged with sedition.
Masuku says that those opposed to the elections are cowards because they cannot defend their ‘stance’. But, they are never given the opportunity to do just that.
In fact, democrats in Swaziland are routinely harassed in their homes, beaten by police, arrested on trumped up charges and jailed without bail pending continuous court appearances - all because they want to have the opportunity to put their ‘stance’ to the people.
Despite the hardships they are enduring they say they will continue with their work trying to turn Swaziland away from the feudal kingdom it is today, into a fully-operational democracy. If the need arises, they will go to jail, they say.
No, the prodemocracy advocates are not cowards. The real cowards are Deputy Prime Minister Masuku, King Mswati and his hangers-on. They are too scared to engage with the people in an open forum to defend the political system that allows them so many privileges, but deprives the rest of the Swazi people their rights.
Masuku won’t stand up and debate, because he knows in his heart that once the people understand what’s going on, he will be for the chop.
ANC ANGRY AT BRUTAL SECURITY FORCE
NOW, ELECTION MEETINGS ARE ‘SEDITIOUS’