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  HOME PAGE 12/08/2022 22:08 
27.05.2022 09:42 News >> Swazi Youths Beating 'Drums Of War'

Swazi Youths Beating 'Drums Of War'

Youths demand political reforms, introduction of multiparty democracy to end King Mswati III’s 36 years of rule in southern African kingdom.

Pro-democracy youths in Eswatini are calling for an armed struggle to topple Africa's last absolute monarch, King Mswati III.
The recent violent assault of Colani Maseko, president of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), by the army has triggered fresh calls for a change of tactic in ending King Mswati's autocracy.
A series of protests by university students in recent months took a dramatic twist last week when the army laid siege to their academic institution. Students were beaten and forced to roll on the ground by uncompromising military personnel.
Maseko was bundled into an army truck and taken to an unknown location, where he was subjected to torture and a vicious assault. The army afterward dumped him at Matsapha police station.
The army's actions were reminiscent of the "winter revolution" last June, where over a hundred youths were killed and some were forced to have their legs amputated after being shot at by the army and police.
Subsequent to the state's crackdown on activists, two young pro-democracy members of parliament (MPs) -- Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube -- were arrested, and MP Mduduzi Simelane escaped to South Africa. The government accused the three MPs of masterminding the June protests.
The MPs' arrest also triggered months of violent student protests in which schools were burnt and the government panicked and closed them indefinitely.
State atrocities spark calls for guerilla warfare
Mlungisi Makhanya, president of the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), said the 38-year-old organization believes that the regime's "dictatorial" tendencies have pushed the youth too far.
"The regime is pushing us to adopt the laws of the jungle. It does not take a long time for a country to degenerate where neighbors will kill each other," he said.
"It's serious that an army can walk into a university and beat up students. Just recently, during a strike by textile workers, the army and police were invading private residences and forcing workers to go to work.
"If we end up embarking on other forms (of resistance) that necessitate taking up weapons, it would be (because of) conditions imposed on us by this dictatorial regime," he added.
He said that the royal aristocracy is determined to use its authority and power against the will of the people.
"They have resorted to using violence. It would not be unexpected for our people to consider methods of equal measure in defense of themselves."
Nombulelo Motsa, president of the Economic Freedom Fighters' Eswatini chapter, said as a youthful organization, their view is that the armed struggle is not for her organization but for all youth of the country, which was formerly known as Swaziland.
"The armed struggle is for all Swazis who love democracy. Every Swazi is now ready to engage in whatever method possible to attain democracy," she said.
Qambukusa Magagula, a former political lecturer at the University of Eswatini, said revolutions are led by youths because they are always ready to take action.
"It is the level of oppression in terms of denying citizens basic political and economic rights that drives citizens to fight a system.
"The royal display of a lavish lifestyle when on the other hand the government is cash-strapped has propelled the people to rise against the monarchical institution," said Magagula.
Magagula dispelled the myth that Swazis are a passive and peaceful people.
"It is a misconception that Swazis are a passive society. In the 1960s, why would colonial Britain send its Gordon Highlanders soldiers from Kenya to Swaziland? And we are the only southern African country to host the British army unit. That says a lot about Swazis," he said.
Calls for armed struggle foreign-sponsored
Percy Simelane, the director of communications for the King's Office, said the regime change calls are sponsored by agents outside the country.
"We have intelligence now to the effect that the call for armed struggle has its origin outside our borders. The reasons are commercial and not political. Our 'liberators' are being abused," said Simelane.
"Our democracy is one of the best in the world, where we the people freely nominate and vote for our representatives in parliament as opposed to other democracies where party leaders impose themselves on the electorate.
"A report by Afrobarometer on Eswatini's political unrest indicated that 73.8% do not support the protests for regime change and are not prepared to participate in them. We want to believe that to every normal thinking person on the street, 22.2% can never be regarded as the majority," he argued.
According to the 2005 Constitution, Eswatini's executive, judicial, and legislative powers are vested in the king and political parties remained banned.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has indicated that Eswatini has a national poverty rate of about 63% and an unemployment rate of 41%. -



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