CLOSING SPEECH (WITS - SWAZI ELECTIONS DIALOGUE)
There cannot be any rivalry if there is no bone of contention. Swazi progressives cannot consider one another rivals when the task at hand is still to fight for the power that is to be contested. Either we admit the fact or not, but as progressives we are a coalition; if not by choice then by circumstance; this we cannot run away from, however limited the parameters that we view the situation from. What our leaders are not aware of is that what they hold so close to their bosom are not valuable patents kept for profit but the suffering of our people. Political organisations want to style themselves as “head physician”, labor organisations want to live in a bubble where they want to solve political matters in a way that is not going to upset the king. When we ask for the whereabouts of the suffering of the people we are told that PUDEMO allegedly holds the patent to the struggle and NNLC is fighting day and night to dispute this. It is this very paranoia that at times presents an image of disunity when in reality it is just an unfortunate parade of egos.
Picture by: Philani Courage Ndebele
Another area that lacks definitive demarcation is to what extent those with common interests should engage one another until that engagement reaches the point where the only thing achieved is just keeping appearances. As much as democracy dictates that all must he heard, but there are times when the product presented to democracy has all the signs of a dictatorship. Do we then tolerate such for the sake of keeping appearances, or we bravely betray the comforts of convenience in pursuit of the ideal?
In this dialogue we have learnt that democracy is a system where human beings have an equal say, where people have the right to organise, a right associate, a right to assemble, and a right to express themselves, and also that those rights should be enjoyed while being cognisant of the fact that one’s right cannot impede on another’s. Which then takes us full circle to the appreciation that the indulgence in these rights cannot be one sided hence the core principle of the “equal say” or rather equal indulgence, if you will.
Now considering the context of the dialogue which was aptly defined by professor Friedman”, it then becomes easy to identify the lack of the “ideal” in whatever electoral system that is being critically analysed, and in this case the system being the Tinkhundla electoral system, which is not only flawed as a as an electoral system, but is founded on a shaky foundation of an equally flawed constitution.
It then falls into the category of common sense that one elected on a faulty electoral system which is founded on a faulty constitution will surely walk into a faulty parliament. But it would be good to remember that Babe Hlophe actually mentioned that fighting the system from within did at one point yield a certain fruit whereby the purchase of an airplane was discouraged and those campaigning for the wings of the king were stopped. But it would be unjust to omit the fact, that, as we speak, the king of Swaziland has a private jet which was mysteriously acquired and Sive Siyinqaba, Sibahle Sinje is still in parliament.
|A Section of those that attended the Election's Dialogue |
Picture by: Philani Courage Ndebele
Another thing that Professor Friedman mentioned is that, assuming that all agree on embarking on the experiment of fighting from within, there is still the risk of being demobilized of weakening the ability to organise and mostly the risk of giving legitimacy to the very system we rightfully accuse of being illegal.
Having concluded this dialogue session, we can’t really claim to have a waterproof conclusion on either to participate or to boycott the elections, but again we cannot claim not to know what democracy is, and what a democratic electoral system is. Professor Friedman gave us an easily comprehensible breakdown and definition – Manqoba Nxumalo said it wasn’t about us but about the people – Muzi Masuku literally painted for us a picture of a judiciary held hostage - Ms Hleli Luhlanga said it was about giving women an equal opportunity as men, and also consciously noting the plight of the children who continue to be the prime recipients of the consequences of society’s moral decay – Make Zodwa Mkhonta said it was the pulling together of those with a common interests – Skhumbuzo Phakathi said it was about contesting state power.
So as we disperse to our various destinations, there are pertinent issues that it then becomes incumbent on all to mull over and scrutinize if the goal is to be the object and not the subject. That if the object and the goal is democracy, then wouldn't the efforts of dethroning the king replicate chasing the rooster when the intention is to capture the bull. That maybe our definition of the people and their needs is but perpetual pursuit of the shadow in trying to define a fantasy and missing the reality. That to internalize the struggle is to interact with source of the struggle. And finally, that a good athlete cannot gain the goal without losing some sweat.