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Monday, 26 April 2010


I’m not the only one who thinks King Mswati III of Swaziland is talking nonsense when he says that his kingdom is at peace.

King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, told a gathering last week to celebrate his birthday that Swaziland had been at peace since its independence from Britain in 1968.

Vusi Sibisi, a columnist for the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, reckons he knows why there is no unrest in Swaziland – people are too scared to speak out.

Writing in the Times, Sibisi reminds us of a recent ‘assessment of the current level of human rights understanding’ in Swaziland that was commissioned by the Council of Swaziland Churches and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

It found that it was fear, more than anything else, that was responsible for the peace and stability that King Mswati keeps talking about.

Sibisi says the study ‘found out that the majority of the people are afraid of their government hence they dared not challenge it for fear of reprisals’.

The study says peace and stability are not the products of respect for a functional and popular system of governance but a product of fear of the political establishment to the extent that some believe the government has the right to punish its critics.

The study found that 74.4 per cent of the respondents who participated believe that ‘people who speak against the government must expect the government to punish them in any way it sees fit’.

In short the people would, most probably out of fear, subordinate their human rights and freedoms to government rather than cause any discomfiture by demanding the leadership to respect their fundamental human rights and freedoms.

To read Sibisi’s article in full, click here.

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