Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III has told his subjects they must demonstrate respect to authorities of the kingdom at all times.
The King, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, said this in a speech to mark the end of the Incwala ceremony. Incwala is a controversial ceremony that takes place between November and January each year. Traditionalists say Incwala is a ‘national prayer’, but Christian groups have criticised it for being ‘un-Godly’ and ‘pagan’. The ceremony is shrouded in secrecy and participants are barred from talking about what happens.
In Swaziland, political parties are not allowed to contest elections and groups that advocate for democracy are banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act. Trade unions are harassed and in January 2015 Swaziland lost preferential trading rights with the United States because of its refusal to allow human rights in the kingdom.
The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, reported on Tuesday (3 January 2017) the King encouraged the nation, ‘to continue with the good spirit of respect they always display among one another and towards royal commands and duties’.
The newspaper added, ‘The King said a person who has no respect for elders and authority of the land does not last long on earth.’
The newspaper reported, ‘He said once a royal command had been issued, a person has to abandon all they are doing and respond to the command. “There is nothing as significant as respect in whatever you do. I urge the nation to stick to respect because a person who is without respect is no human and they perish from earth at a tender age just because they lack respect. You must also instil respect to the young ones so that they grow to be responsible members of the society,” he said.’
Swaziland has been under the international spotlight for a number of years because of the lack of human rights in the kingdom. A survey published in December 2016 reported the kingdom had the worst record among 36 countries in Africa when answering the question, ‘In this country how free are you to join any political organisation you want?’ only 7 percent responded, ‘completely free.’
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