Friday, June 21, 2013


Yesterday the Observer ran a story that a certain Thandaza Silolo was given a 65 year sentence for a number of petrol bombings of which one included setting a certain commercial forest alight and causing much damage. As it quotes an obviously sentimental judge who cites symbolism and commerce as the justification for giving a stiff sentence, this ‘credible’ publication also mentions a number of times that, Thandaza Silolo is a member of PUDEMO, a proscribed organisation, and that Silolo confessed to have been inspired by PUDEMO to do such misdeeds.

A number of years ago a certain young man by the name of Ndoda Moses Ntshangase had the tendency of setting the veld on fire when he had been infuriated enough by the elders. This was his way of fighting for himself in a situation where he had no defender. Those that abused Ndoda Ntshangase were elders and there was no one to talk against the elders because they wielded the last word, and violently so. So seeing that the elders depended on livestock to maintain the ‘adulthood’, this young man saw that if he could hit them where it hurt the most, maybe they would think twice in the future when they wanted to take the violent stick to his skin. It actually worked because any elder that wanted to beat him up had to think twice on how to justify soot covered grazing land to the other elders after Ndoda or Ndodeni as he was affectionately known, had set the grazing fields ablaze.
Moses Ndlela of the NNLC at the election dialogue
talking against the Swazi Regime
at Wits University in Johannesburg

This is a story of a young man who was reacting to the conditions meted on him at the time. I think it would suffice to say that this young man was not a member of PUDEMO. Actually he was setting the veld afire way before PUDEMO was born. It would also be informative to add that this young man grew up and became a member of Imbokodvo. Even though he was mostly used by Prince Masitsela and company Ltd for his oratory skills, it is noteworthy that he was a consenting adult at the time and he made a choice to be handled by Masitsela and the royal cabal. It would also be good to know that this young man lived to regret the decision of aligning himself with Imbokodvo. The curious thing is that in his moment of repentance he did not blame Masitsela and his other handlers, but blamed Sobhuza 11 for having ‘deceived the Nation’.

According to the narrative of the Thandaza Silolo drama it may seem that Swazi people now have no ability to analyse their conditions and react to those conditions accordingly, but the narrative suggest that it is now PUDEMO that prescribes the reactions of Swazis, especially if the reaction is fight and not flight. It may then seem that one Ndoda Moses Ntshangase consulted PUDEMO in a vision before PUDEMO was, and PUDEMO said, ‘burn the grazing field Moses, burn them all’.

When the Observer is lapping up even the last titbits of the Silolo soapie,  it paints a nation unassertive and a people fast asleep, whose sleep is being disturbed by PUDEMO. Had I not known that the Observer is owned by Mswati 111, I would accuse it of insulting the Nation’s intelligence. Had I not known that it is campaigning for the success of the upcoming pseudo elections I would assume that the Observer is taking the Swazi people for fools. But it is now common knowledge that the soul of the Observer journalist, or should I say ‘reporter’, is in the palace somewhere serving as surety on a monthly salary.

What would it have taken for the Observer to get at least one lousy quote from PUDEMO? I would assume that it (observer) took Silolo’s extensive ‘confession’ quotes as  quotes from PUDEMO considering that it dwells so much on the ‘fact’ that Thandaza Silolo was a PUDEMO member.

 It is common practice at the Observer that when the Nation asks for honest reporting, it gives nothing but jokes, and it is never shy to turn the joke on itself and turn itself into a laughing stock.

One critical Swazi remarked on how the ‘Thandaza Silolo Show’ came at the right time to discredit PUDEMO. On how the registration for the elections is so embarrassingly low that this charade is to discredit PUDEMO of sabotage and by so doing give some credibility to the elections that the international community find to be content for a comedy show. The EBC chairperson dupes the people that low election registration is an accepted fact internationally when he knows very well that such serves as a referendum of a vote of no confidence by the people at the ruling government. Nobody wants to go to a party to be served ligusha (okra) and porridge, which the Swazi government’s service delivery has become. This election show is a disaster for the ruling elite and they know this, so they send their servants to turn the Nation into a bunch of fools selling them a blatant lie that a disastrous election is acceptable.  

A credible publication would have extensively investigated the motive to the ‘confession’ as to ascertain its truthfulness, but such is not the procedure at the Observer. At the Obsver if it implicates PUDEMO well enough, then it is good to be published. For instance, if it was a credible publication it would try to ascertain his (Silolo) sentiments towards the king’s regiment that he left behind when he joined PUDEMO. It would have ascertained why he joined PUDEMO at the first place and why he would want to confess when there are reports that things were starting to work out for him in South Africa. A credible publication would have found out the reaction of the parents and how well they were handling their son’s decision to confess. It would try to ascertain if he came willingly to Swaziland or he was abducted.  But there is one thing and one thing only that the Observer was focused on, and that is if it discredited PUDEMO adequately.  

The Observer parades PUDEMO as if it is an organisation of aliens whose main purpose is to destroy Swaziland. It never tries to project the human being and Swazi in PUDEMO. It sells PUDEMO as the beast waiting in the shadows to pounce on unsuspecting Swazis. Most of us know that Mario Masuku, PUDEMO’s president is a human being with a wife and children who were very much endangered when a couple of dunderhead umbutfo Defence Force  soldiers s sprayed bullets on  his homestead. My mother does not know Mphandlana Shongwe as Mphandlana Shongwe, but as a child of a woman she knows by name that she grew up with in the lowveld. She asks, ‘what are the police doing to the child of so and so?’, because she knows and recognises Mphandlana as a human being and what the Observer tries to do is that when the people ask, they should ask, ‘what is the terrorist called Mphandlana doing to the us?’. But the people will buy the illusion for a while and gradually see the truth.  The Observer will never reveal that in a lot of communities Mphandlana is loved like a brother and does gardening side to side with community members that would bring hell to your doorstep if you dared touch him. To the Observer he must be modelled as some extreme terrorist ready to shower terror on Swazis. Once when he was reminiscing on the violence of the Swazi security forces Mphandlana remarked that in all the abuse that has been meted to him by the regime, he was happy that he has never hurt anyone in retaliation.

Besides the many wrongs and the absurdity of the Swazi judiciary and security system on how they handled the Silolo case, maybe looking at the many birds that were being hit with one stone by the regime would indulge the curious. It is not long ago that teachers were on the street and recently they were threatening to head back, so what better way to distract them than pointing them to the demonised PUDEMO. The circular number one issue is still very sensitive with most Swazi people and instead of it being addressed the people are being directed to PUDEMO by the government and its media arm.  The Prime Minister and his executive branch is supposed to have vacated office due to a vote of no confidence, but what better way to make people forget than direct them to the supposedly hated PUDEMO. The people are starting to ask about the implementation of the Sibaya recommendations and what better way to distract the people than pointing them to a ‘violent’ PUDEMO. But most of all the elections are proving to be more disastrous every time they are held, so someone might just ask why the people are not responding to the powers-that-be. The powers-that-be wouldn’t be able to answer a question as to the non- compliance of the servants, so what better way to handle the blame than to pass it on to the arch enemy PUDEMO. My question is; when will the government take responsibility and stop selling the PUDEMO jingle every time it has to account to the people?  Must we blame PUDEMO for all the inefficiencies of the government that are evident almost all over the country?

The fact is that as one Ndoda Moses Ntshangase burnt the grazing fields, years before PUDEMO was born, so will Swazis continue to react to the conditions they are subjected to. It is not PUDEMO that is the problem but the conditions. Change the conditions and the reaction will be that of gratitude and not of retaliation. But one thing that bugs me is how PUDEMO can be considered so dangerous when it can’t afford even dynamite. There are many types of explosives in the market but the terribly dangerous PUDEMO chooses petrol. If PUDEMO is so broke that it cannot even afford dynamite, why would it then be considered so dangerous?  But such are questions for journalist who still own their souls. Of course such shackled journalists will be quick to remind me of the bridge bombing and I would ask, ‘what is the possibility that, that event was staged in order to discredit PUDEMO?’ I am not saying the event was staged, but I’m just asking that we should start think for ourselves and not let the observer think for us.

No comments:

Post a Comment