King Mswati III of Swaziland is using state security forces to satisfy his own personal vendetta.
There can be no other conclusion following the revelation that the king, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, used the state military to spy on one of his wives he suspected of having an affair.
As everyone, except people living in Swaziland without access to international media knows, Nothando Dube, (also known as Inkhosikati LaDube), the 12th wife of the king and Ndumiso Mamba, Swaziland’s Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister were caught last week in an adulterous relationship.
It emerged yesterday (8August 2010) that King Mswati had ordered ‘Swaziland’s military agents’ to monitor the activities of the couple ‘for several months’. They were finally busted at a hotel last week and Mamba was thrown in jail and LaDube put under house arrest. Mamba was jailed on the instructions of King Mswati, although he had not committed a crime. Photographs taken as Mamba was being arrested seem to show that police officers were present as well as security forces.
The City Press newspaper of South Africa reported that King Mswati, who was on a state trip to Taiwan at the time of the arrest, had called Swaziland’s army commander and told him that if Mamba fled the kingdom the military chief would also have to flee.
But why did the security services go after the couple? Adultery is not a crime in Swaziland, although some of the king’s keener supporters who believe that Mswati is sent from God would probably be happy for the kingdom to become a theocracy.
Nor, in King Mswati’s wildest dreams, could he really believe that Mamba and LaDube were a ‘terrorist’ threat, although goodness knows he brands anyone who doesn’t like him or disagrees with him, terrorists (so by that definition maybe LaDube is a ‘terrorist’).
No, the sad truth is that the King wanted to get back at his wife and her lover. He believes the state forces are his to do with as he likes. And, what is perhaps worse, the security forces seem to agree. We now have a situation where not only will King Mswati unleash the full force of the state against dissidents, but also against anyone who upsets him personally.
He truly is a tyrant.