The chairman of Southern African Development Community (SADC) King Mswati III was in Botswana for a two-day tour of the Secretariat and to inform himself of progress made in implementation of policies and resolutions of the regional bloc.
The King brought atleast two of his wives, and family in addition to his entourage. He was welcomed to the country by the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and was accorded the red carpet.
Previously, in 2015, Zimbabwean President was not accorded the red carpet, as Venson-Moitoi would then argue that his was not a state visit.
King Mswati III is not different from Mugabe and he is an oppressor who does not allow press freedom, multiparty democracy, trade unionism and any dissenting voices are crushed with a disproportionate force.
It would seem that SADC is becoming comfortable with what is happening in Swaziland, yet its past immediate chairman President Ian Khama spoke openly against Mugabe to a point that Botswana took a stance not to recognise his Presidency at some point.
In Swaziland, judges take instructions from the King and they comply unconditionally, something, which we are fighting hard in Botswana. The independence of the judiciary, the independent press, and dissenting voices are a measure of commitment to democracy. It is disturbing that SADC has allowed King Mswati III to be the chairman of the bloc yet he does not believe in their democratic values and principles.
SADC should review some of its agreements to ensure that it remains relevant to the youth, majority of whom believe in democracy, freedom of expression and the fact that Africa is part of the global village. Information travels very fast these days, something, which makes it easy for one society to aspire for a better life or envy another society’s good practices. France recently elected its youngest President ever at the age of 39, and the whole world was watching including the youth in Africa and particularly in Swaziland where they are not allowed to say a word about the expenditure of their public funds amongst others. SADC should prepare for a tough assignment the day the Swazis say enough is enough and stand up to their King to demand democracy.
In addition, SADC has laid down many projects and ambitions such as regional integration, but such would not succeed if governments are still stuck in events of 60s to 80s.
We want the youth of Swaziland to have same ambitions and dreams as their regional counterparts to one day take part in the affairs of their country and even lead it. SADC should put more pressure on Swaziland to formulate a new constitution to usher in democracy and keeping the Royal family as a ceremonial institution.
“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”
– Abraham Lincoln