Communist Party of Swaziland
Address to the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties – November 2018
On behalf of the entire working class and all the oppressed people of Swaziland, the Communist Party of Swaziland greets the delegates to the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties and the entire working class and occupied peoples of the world.
2018 saw increased militancy among workers in Swaziland against the monarchical dictatorship of Swaziland, known as “tinkhundla” system. Teachers, nurses, textile workers, all under the leadership of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), took to the streets to raise practical people’s demands. They demanded wages and elderly grants increases and an end to colonial-style evictions spearheaded by the monarch, among other demands. Students led by the Swaziland National Union of Students also took part in the struggles, fighting against victimisation and for free quality education.
The people also called for boycott of the tinkhundla sham elections. The elections have no practical value among the people. They only help create a puppet parliament which is answerable only to the absolute monarch.
Always, Mswati’s police responded to peaceful protests with violence, intimidation and victimisation.
Swaziland has been ruled by an absolute monarch since 12 April 1973 after the late king Sobhuza II abrogated the 1968 constitution, banned all political parties and activities, and bestowed all executive, legislative, and judicial powers upon the monarch. The monarch would from thereon rule Swaziland by decree.
Political parties remain banned. The king is law and does not account to anyone and neither can he and his family be taken to court. While a majority of the people are drowning in poverty, the royal family is living a lavish lifestyle.
About 70 percent of the people survive on less than US$2 a day. The country has the highest HIV prevalence in the world, with 27.4% of adults living with HIV, poverty being one of the main contributors to this prevalence.
Meanwhile, Mswati spent about US$70 million to throw a lavish 50th birthday party for himself in April 2018 – a second self-gifted private jet costing about US$30 million, a US$1.6 million Jacobs & Co Grand Baguette timepiece, a suit beaded in diamonds, and numerous luxurious articles. All this whilst 350 000 of the 1.1 million people of Swaziland were in urgent need of food aid, as admitted by the regime. Mswati has 13 palaces and fleets of top-of-therange BMW and Mercedes cars, all of which drain the economy of Swaziland.
Tinkhundla system is presented by the royal regime as a unique, indigenous, traditional and truly African system of the people when in fact it is nothing but a dictatorship of the monarch.
Parliament, the executive and the judiciary have no power to question, let alone overrule any decision by the monarch. In 2013, Mswati redefined the system as “monarchical democracy; the marriage between the monarch and the ballot box.” Put differently, tinkhundla system is democracy by the monarch, for the monarch.
There is nothing African about the tinkhundla system. To call it African would mean that it is inherent in African values and principles that the majority of the population should work the hardest in production but the fruits of their labour be enjoyed by one individual and his family – that it is inherent in African values that the majority of the people should languish in poverty whilst one family enjoys the riches of the country.
Swaziland is also not anti-imperialist. The Mswati regime works hand in hand with imperialist forces to preserve its power over the people. Swaziland is a capitalist state with feudalist elements.
The history of the tinkhundla system is partly linked to the apartheid regime and other international forces who were trying to destabilise the South African liberation movement across Africa. Abductions and killings of exiled anti-apartheid revolutionaries who were based in Swaziland occurred with the full cooperation of the tinkhundla regime.
Swaziland is mostly a rural country, with about 77 percent of the people living in rural areas. The small size of the country, however, means that most of these people also work in the cities whilst at the same time keeping homes in the rural areas. Workers and peasants are therefore the motive forces in the struggle against the monarchical dictatorship. Thus the worker-peasant alliance is indispensable in our struggle for freedom in Swaziland.
The Communist Party of Swaziland aims to overthrow the absolute monarch, root and branch, and lay the ground for a people’s democratic republic. Towards this, we will work to mobilise the oppressed masses and isolate the monarch. All property controlled by the monarch will be expropriated and democratically handled by the people.
We will also work with the working class of the world for an internationalist mission against imperialism – for freedom of Palestine, Western Sahara and all occupied peoples.