What has, over the years, somehow eluded public scrutiny is the difference between the Institution of the Monarchy and the Monarch. To adequately understand the difference between the two would maybe help people like the “representative” of the ANC who was in Swaziland and apparently was talking on behalf of the ANC. Articulation of the said gentleman as reported by the times of Swaziland exposes his ignorance on the Swazi matter and ignorance on the stand that the ANC has taken in regard to the Swazi issue.
|Wise royals who chose to exit the political space to preserve |
dignity of the Institution of the Monarchy
Had the gentleman appreciated that the ANC does not regard Swaziland as democratic, he wouldn’t have uttered the words that, “You have elected your choice of MPs and some are ministers. If there are any problems one feels need to be addressed, these are the people who need to be confronted not the royal family. People should just learn to leave the King alone.”
If the ANC, in one of its resolutions, is calling for the democratisation of Swaziland, then it means that it does not recognise the government which part of is elected through sham elections and most of, through appointment by Mswati III. For Johannes Sibiya - who according to the times of Swaziland was representing the ANC - to refer the people of Swaziland to a government that is undemocratic as a solution, is clearly in contradiction of the ideals of the organisation he claims to represent. If Mr Johannes Sibiya would like to comment on the Swazi issue, he is very welcome, but should appreciate the facts of the matter, and familiarise himself with the Swazi narrative because he might end up embarrassing his political party by contradicting its views on the its official stand on Swaziland.
But to bring clarity on the issue of discussing issues of the monarch in public and how it has come about that the Monarch and even the Institution of the monarchy has become content for public discourse and at times even inexcusable vulgar public discourse.
Sobhuza II against counsel to the contrary, submerged both the Monarch and the Institution of the Monarchy into active politics. It is a given that politics are an undertaking of mudslinging and name-calling. In showing his back to culture of the Monarch taking counsel from the people, Sobhuza II decided to rather take the advice of an individual who was part and parcel of the South African Apartheid State, hence we find the Monarch of Swaziland and the people of Swaziland in the public domain exchanging insults, mudslinging, and name-calling, where Mswati III has gone as far as uttering threats of “choking” some Swazis, and his police officers have taken his advice and standardised the use of “the tube” in interrogation, especially interrogations of political activists.
One of the major requests of pro-democratic forces has been to ask the royal family as a whole to remove the Monarch and the Institution of the Monarchy from active politics. That it was a big mistake that Sobhuza II should have exposed the Monarch and the Institution of the Monarchy to the ridicule of public politics, because, either we like it or not, politics do get slimy, slippery and at times vulgar. What is considered as heritage and dear to the people should be removed from the political space because it might end up losing value and become a thing of international ridicule as the Swazi Monarch has become.
Judging from Sobhuza II’s undertakings from the early 1920’s it becomes clear that when he finally decided to offer the head of the Monarch to the gallows of politics when he insisted on installing it as head of a political party, the prime motive was to control both the governing tool and the purse strings, as is evidenced on how the royal family controls the majority of business in Swaziland and how on top of that it further places an extra burden on the taxpayer by demanding that the latter must provide for the upkeep of the entire royal family.
Quoting the observation of an academic from the book When the Sleeping Grass Awakens by Richard Levine that, “In Swaziland extra-economic coercion takes the form of forced labour, forced contributions and forced removals. These lie at the heart of a repressive regime of accumulation which characterises comprador bourgeois power. Furthermore, these forms of repression are inconsistent with democracy and are central to an understanding of why there can be no democracy under the royal regime in Swaziland. Accumulation by the royal ruling class is dependent on state control and/or state connection, so that an attack on royal state power becomes an assault on the mechanisms of accumulation itself. At the same time, it must be asserted that there can be no democratic organisation of the state where direct producers are subject to extra-economic forms of coercion.”
It becomes clear that while the royal family remains within the political space, and not the ceremonial one, where the people contest for the provision of goods and services which the royal family is working day and night to monopolise, the Monarch and the Institution of the Monarchy will continue to be subjected to extensive scrutiny and ridicule, and at times to the point of emotional outbursts and rightfully so.
It is not hard to imagine how the Monarch and the Institution of the Monarchy is portrayed when it has removed itself or has been removed from politics. King Zwelithini of the Zulu rarely becomes the content for harsh political wrangling because he is not involved in politics, but only serves as a ceremonial figure. The only time when his name has been portrayed negatively was when he intended marrying an underage girl of fourteen, his habit of excessive spending, and the issue concerning the cruelty to the ritual bull during one of the annual Zulu rituals, otherwise king Zwelithini cannot claim to be subject to the extensive name-calling that king Mswati III has to endure, because he is not involved in day-to-day-politics.
The sooner we have Mswati III remove himself or be removed from day-to-day politics, the sooner we will have an Institution of the Monarchy with integrity where people like Johannes Sibiya won’t need to make uninformed pleas for respect of the Institution of the Monarchy or the Monarch. Otherwise, in all honesty it is Sobhuza II that opened the prevailing ridicule on the Swazi Institution of the Monarchy, and it is like Mswati III is in full agreement with his father that it should be dragged in the mud until it loses even the last titbits of the remaining cultural credibility that Mswati’s traditionalists are trying to obliterate by involving the reed maidens in name-calling politics and by hurling the regular insult at the nation.
But to finally mention that, that which is the tool of the people is the Institution of the Monarchy, and that the Monarch is like a chief representative of this Institution and that his task is to serve as an errand boy for the nation, hence the king being referred to as a child because a child can be sent anywhere the parent feels is appropriate. That, “the king is the sun”, and all the other butt kissing that the praise singers embark on is just that, butt-kissing and has nothing to do on how the king is supposed to be culturally viewed.
That Mr Sibiya should appreciate that we say, “a king is a king because of the people”, and NOT that, “the people are people because of the king”. Maybe on digesting that Swazi expression he might appreciate that the people are never wrong even if the people are wrong. It is the people that are “the sun”, and the king derives his rays from the shine of the people. Actually the king is like the moon which reflects the shine of the sun; when there is no sun the moon is as cold and dark as non-existence itself. So it is quite unwise to ask the sun to stop scrutinising the moon because it is the sun’s shine that the moon becomes visible, otherwise it would be as invisible as a microscopic organism. And to enlighten Mr Sibiya that the Swazi Nation as a collective is considered a thing sacred, and not a prop to stabilise the podium.