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Opinion: The end is now for our politics

It has been said before. It will be said again. The Tinkhundla system of governance has failed. The time has come when the people of Swaziland must start talking a new political order in this counry. This is a system that has collapsed on its own through its own nefarious deeds by its acolytes. This month, the pressure for change continues.

Pic showing an anti tinkhundla crowdJust because we’ve repeatedly made this call doesn’t stop us from making it once again; perhaps one last time. The reason is simple: the build-up to the end is over and we can now only await the inevitable outcome. Sekuphelile kemanje, finish and klaar!

I want to start by indicating that there have been more than adequate warnings for the to either shape up while there was still time or ship out eventually.

Whether by design or by default, it is now history that Tinkhundla opted for the unfortunate latter route. This magazine stands out among the sane voices constantly imploring Tinkhundla to put its increasingly shambolic house in order to avoid the groundswell of waning public confidence reaching a point of no return.

Yet, like the proverbial prophet being rejected by his/her own people, Tinkhundla chose to see insanity and prophecy of doom where they were being offered wise advice free of charge.

Who can deny today that there have been more than enough warnings from outside the country as well? Mention the IMF and Tinkhundla will admit, albeit with coiling tongue in cheek, that there has been an abundance of critical friendship out there.

Once more, Tinkhundla chose the way of the fool turn a deaf ear to sound expert advice. Tinkhundla will now not have the luxury of belatedly learning from and prudently correcting its countless mistakes. Let us quickly fast-forward to probably the biggest mass protest march yet on Friday, 18th March 2011.

It is the size and unique character of this march that give rise to my unavoidable conclusion of a certain Tinkhundla apocalypse. For the first time in a long while, the full colour of Swazi society came through to demand one thing: an end to Tinkhundla.

Let no one be fooled by euphemisms such as the furore around pay cuts for public servants. The collective civil society voice that filled the streets of the capital city of Swaziland on March 18th was very clear that all problems affecting their lives emanate from decades of the carelessness of the Tinkhundla form of governance in handling our public affairs.

So, for me, the demands have long since stopped being about contentious tertiary scholarship policy, late or non-payment of nurses’ overtime allowances, slave wages for textile workers, unpaid elderly grants, wanton evictions (the ever-worrisome land tenure system), chronic non-payment of OVC school fees, shortage of hospital drugs, unemployment, etc.

You are deluding yourself and need to catch a quick wake-up call if you still dwell in the era where these were the substantive demands. The focus has since shifted to the root cause of these recurring ailments.

AntiTinkhundlaMassesSwazi civil society in all its picturesque diversity, which was on display in that historic March 18th march on Mbabane, has come to realize that it is pointless marching for the one demand or the other if the root cause is still unaffected.

I’m saying that the people now want an end to Tinkhundla, which has failed them for 37 years and now demand multiparty democracy.

Tinkhundla should not be deceived by the pseudo-petition that the masses delivered to the Prime Minister’s office, just demanding resignation of the PM and his cabinet.

If Tinkhundla thinks that it is still “business as usual”, that a mere cabinet reshuffle or even dissolution of government at sibaya will appease the masses, think again.

Not anymore, I’m afraid! No matter what happens between now and April 12 – 15, Tinkhundla, and all that the feudal system of governance represents, can be sure that its time is now effectively up.

There were visible signs at the march that this one was significantly different from earlier marches. For instance, completely outnumbered by the marching multitudes, security forces dutifully focused on ensuring order and safety.

Responding to sporadic acts of provocation seemed to be the farthest thing from their minds. They seemed to be under strict orders to ignore these potentially explosive distractions.

Now, if you know the attitude and behaviour that have typified our armed forces during protests, it becomes difficult to avoid the question how did our police and prison officials graduate to the maturity and restraint observed during this particular march.

It is a significant departure from past behaviour and that must signal something deeper than meets the eye. The marchers will return to the streets between the 12th and 15th of April. They have promised a bigger and better demonstration. That must send shivers down the spine of the Tinkhundla set-up.

A bigger and better demonstration can only spell the end for Tinkhundla that I’ve already predicted above. The marchers have equally vowed to return to the streets and prepared to stay right there until Tinkhundla is history and multiparty democracy is our new reality.

Well, I have zero sympathy for a system that has made me a stranger in my own country of birth. I have zero sympathy for a system that does not care how qualified you are so long as you think and believe differently.

I certainly have no sympathy for a system that knows no bounds in mishandling the public purse. Isn’t this the system that has vowed to go ahead with ill-advised Silver Jubilee celebrations even with the threat of being ousted hanging over its head? The Tinkhundla system of governance has proved beyond doubt that it has completely lost touch with reality and all legitimacy to govern.

I can’t wait to join the masses in celebrating the end of Tinkhundla on 12th April 2011.

Will you be there?

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