Friday, October 3, 2008

Training Day (Or Overt counter Intelligence Operations)

In a previous article entitled Fahrenheit 9/20, the possibility of C.I.A involvement in the bomb blast that killed would-be terrorists Musa “MJ” Dlamini and Jack Govender was introduced as a theory. Readers of this blog are invited to bring forth evidence or counter- evidence to this theory. Certain recent reports in the Swazi media, particularly the Observer, hint at the possibility of this theory being true. Less than a week after the king openly made remarks about terrorism at the United Nations General Assembly in New York and pledged his commitment against it, the U.S. army was reported to be in partnership with the U.S.D.F. for what is conveniently disguised as a Medical Readiness Training Exercise. Could it be that C.I.A involvement has become too overt to hide that it has become necessary to cover it with a reasonable explanation. The report in the Observer, on the 3rd of October is included below this article.


By Nelsiwe Ndlangamandla
THE army will undergo a military medical readiness training exercise soon.
This will be in partnership with the United States government. A US advance team will come to the country this month for planning purposes.
They will meet with the army to discuss the scope and timeline of the exercise.
Tanya Gant Ward, USA Embassy Public Affairs Officer, in a press statement said: “Umbutfo Swaziland Defense Force (USDF) medical outreach programme aims to mutually benefit American and Swazi military medical services while bringing medical assistance to civilian communities.”
She said the Military Medical Training Exercise (MEDFLAG) was a disaster response and medical outreach exercise. She stated that this exercise was conducted by the US department of defense in Africa every year. Swazi medical personnel will also get medical techniques as there will be doctors, dentists and technicians to provide them with training.
“MEDFLAG is also an opportunity to practice disaster response,” reads the press statement.
Some of the countries that have benefited from this exercise are Niger and Mali..

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ferenheit 9/20

Subsequent to the debacle that took the lives of two soldiers of the Swazi struggle the newspapers were littered with information that could only have been acquired by torture or prior knowledge. The best source of information for the newspapers is the police force.


The information about what occurred on Saturday the 20th of September goes far beyond what could have been achieved by torture. Under torture a suspect would only reveal details pertaining to the particular target in question. This would involve naming accomplices and the sources of the explosives. However, the news indicates that police had information regarding other possible targets and why those were not hit. Could it be that Swaziland’s intelligence services know about the bombing before it occurred?


In recreating the aftermath of the bomb blast, one is justified in believing that the police had prior information. How else could they have known that there was a fourth suspect? It is highly unlikely that the suspect in custody volunteered information and told about his fellow accomplice. Moreover, police have information on where the terror suspects were staying for the weekend and the fact that the suspect in custody was taken to hospital by a white Uno. All this information could not have been easily given away by the lone suspect currently in custody.


The explosives used were going to be detonated using a radio signal. They are obviously very powerful explosives and the two dead suspects had no wish to be anywhere near the site of the crime at the moment that the bomb went off. The story currently being sold to the media is that the two men died by accident. This would mean that two highly trained explosive experts somehow managed to blow themselves by mistake. It is hardly a believable story. In light of the fact that there is nothing credible currently being given to the public, a more credible story has to be made to fit eh evidence


Swaziland has seen many bomb blasts in the past few days. No matter how incompetent the local security agencies are, at some point in time they must have recognised that they would end up being the victims of terrorism themselves. As a result they enlisted the help of counter-terrorist units, probably funded and trained by the CIA, the world’s largest terrorist and anti-terrorist organisation. This is obviously done covertly. It is done covertly because the United States cannot be seen to be openly supporting a non-democratic country. However, in the event that the scheme is uncovered, the CIA can justify itself as ridding the world against terror.


Mswati, at a U.N. general assembly in New York recently, did not leave without thanking the superpower for its support in ridding the country of terrorists. This appeared in the Swazi Observer on the 26th of September under the headline, "King’s stern warning to terrorists."


All revolutionaries should know that their actions are being monitored by a highly trained counter-revolutionary force funded by the C.I.A. The two comrades did not die from an accident. The bomb that they tried to connect had already received a detonating signal. In killing these two comrades, the Swazi forces wanted to make an example of them and hope that others who wished to follow suit would be deterred.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Burn, Babylon, Burn

The days of lice head and chill of foot amongst children is over
And education and British youth now in college taking over, welcome
Neither this is the time when children and fathers listening most to grand massa [firebun]

Rasta a go tear down Babylon
Rasta a go tear down Babylon
Freedom fighters a go tear down Babylon
Revolutionaries a go tear down Babylon

R-A-S-T-A, Rasta, which means
Righteous African Stands Tall Alone, forever
And the king that sits not upon a golden throne
Is eating after the pig and sucking off his bone
Boy you no understand

Babylon A weep, Culture, Trust me, 1997. Ras Us

It is extremely disheartening that the social change envisaged by Swaziland’s pro-democracy groups has entered its violent stage. The acts of terror against the state have had minimal impact on their targets. However it is reasonable to believe that the state’s failure to apprehend credible suspects will only make the terrorist cells more daring, which should eventually heighten the people’s consciousness.


At the moment only one political organization has come put to publicly declare that it will not desist from using violence in order to achieve its political goals. Regardless of this declaration, however, there is no indication that the local population is in a state of panic. One of the main reasons for this apathy is the fact that other declarations have been made before without any concrete action. As a result, people have begun to believe that these organizations “bark more than they bite.”


The most effective means of turning social systems around is a popular mass uprising. The most significant popular uprising in recent times is that which occurred in Nepal in 2006. Although it had its own share of violence and deaths, it was certainly much more effective than the guerrilla attacks currently being waged by that country’s Moaists. Naturally, the more effective route is far much more difficult than the alternatives because it requires constant communication with the vast majority of the people who at times might be at such low levels of political consciousness that they could easily aid the security agents in their fight against the mobilization of the population. Therefore this is not an easy alternative in a country where all the state’s security agents are free to publicly mete out violence on political activists.


The great advantage of violence, especially in a tranquil atmosphere like Swaziland, is that it introduces a sense of urgency. If used in an appropriate manner, it can therefore serve as a catalyst to the broader mass movement.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The making of a king

Professor Rooney’s blog , Swazi-media, recently referred to a topic that has eluded public understanding for a long time; the making of a Swazi king. Despite the many rumours that have been spread about the legitimacy of Makhosetive to be on the throne, many Swazis have actually accepted him as the chosen one and take it for granted that things can go awfully wrong in the process of succession from one king to another.


What are the real guidelines for succession? In other words, how is a king chosen? Who makes the final decision? The answers to these questions vary. It always depends on who is asking and why. However, prior to the demise of king Sobhuza, a trend which had been somewhat unbroken existed. The crown prince was always chosen by the Queen Regent. Queen-regents are not ordinary wives. Traditionally they are not supposed to bear children and this is because they are expected to be the ones who coronate the future king. If they have children of their own, it is feared that they might decide to make one of them king instead of the real heir. Of course many, if not all of them, eventually had children. This is historically documented. Queen-regent Gwamile was the regent prior to King Sobhuza’s reign. An anecdote is told of how she almost crowned her own son instead and it took the intervention of a regiment of warriors to bring her to order. Whatever the truth of that anecdote, the fact is that Gwamile officially crowned Sobhuza eventually, the same way in which Sobhuza’s father was also crowned by a queen-regent.


The greatest story ever told on film is the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the subsequent cover-up by the most powerful forces on earth of the truth behind the assassination. In the movie itself, there is a scene where the man that sought to expose the scandal was receiving information from a top C.I.A. official on the truth of his investigation. He summed it up thus “The real question is WHY. Everything else becomes oblivious when you answer that question”. In other words, who benefited from the assassination? It is truly unfortunate that most Swazis have never really asked themselves about the truth behind the “palace-coup” that saw the queen-regent removed from the throne because understanding that event allows one to have a deeper understanding of today’s politics.


An even lesser understood fact about Swazi politics is the cause for the wave of political unrest that followed Sobhuza’s demise. The country’s most radical pro-democracy movement was born during those trying times. Prior to that epoch most politically-minded Swazis were moderates. What provoked them towards a radical stance was the manner in which the Liqoqo supreme council of state had flaunted the very traditions that gave it power. That served as the last straw that made them completely disillusioned with the status quo. Bearing witness to what constituted a crime against tradition itself; they saw no other way forward but full and complete democratic forms. The real reasons for the removal of the Queen Regent from the throne were never made public. This was quite odd especially when considering the fact that any regime that comes into power effectively controls all the channels of communication with the population. Hence, it can spread any propaganda that justifies its ascendancy to power. If the Queen-regent had in-fact violated a very important traditional rite then that would have been made public and she would have been arrested. A retired soldier once publicly stated that he, and a couple of other soldiers, had been given the order to assassinate the queen-regent if she did not comply with the plans for regime-change. As would be expected of an ageing, and largely uneducated matriarch who was surrounded by hostile factions all vying for power, she surrendered her authority silently.


Reference ought to be made once again to that beautiful film, JFK. “Who stood to benefit”, and “What were the major shifts in policy immediately after the coup? The answers to these questions are best understood when the wider context of international politics is taken into consideration. This is true of most, if not all, coups. Coup-de-tats in Africa, in particular, are rarely ever the result internal struggles for power. Most of them, as the coup in that put Mobuthu Sese Seko into power in Congo for example showed, are orchestrated by other countries who stand to benefit from them. The maxim that states that the fortunes of less powerful countries are determined by their more powerful counterparts best states this fact.

The Southern-African context in the year 1982 can be best described as extremely- unstable. Part of the policy-shift envisaged by B.J. Voster was that South Africa ought to pursue an expansionist strategy. Rather than isolate itself from its African-ruled neighbors and risk the possibility of being surrounded by hostile-states that were hell-bent on seeing majority-rule become a reality in South Africa, Pretoria interfered in the affairs of her neighboring states. In military-terms that would be called preemptive action. Lesotho was perhaps the most strategically located country for anti-apartheid missions. It was not a mere coincidence therefore that the late seventies and the early eighties witnessed so many coup-de-tats in that country and that all of them eventually led to the expulsion of ANC cadres. Moreover, a contra-military-force (RENAMO) was created by Dr Wervoed and Ian Smith for the purposes of destabilizing Mozambique. Mozambique was to later suffer further losses when their president, Samora Machel, was assassinated by South African forces.

Swaziland, on the other hand, as the second most important piece of land for launching insurgent-missions against the apartheid regime was always under the surveillance of the apartheid machinery. Sobhuza’s only true legacy was his clandestine support for the A.N.C. As a founder-member of the organization he was always of service to its members. His role was to shelter them and ensure that they received safe passage between their bases in Mozambique and South Africa. Indeed many terrorist attacks in the latter country were made possible by arms and explosives smuggled through Swaziland. The transit point for the terrorists after their missions was also the kingdom. The apartheid-state knew about these movements but never made overt attempts to curtail them while Sobhuza was alive because of the mutual-agreements that had been made between the two countries. This policy of clandestine support for the A.N.C. was supposed to last until the end of apartheid regardless of the succession to the throne. If Sobhuza wished to terminate it then he would have done so while he was still alive. The fact that this policy was not followed is perhaps the most compelling evidence that the legitimate succession was derailed. Sobhuza died at the age of 93, a lonely but revered figure who had lost his political acumen to old age. The mere thought of leaving behind his plans for succession to a fragile old woman at a time when the political landscape was so volatile indicates that the man had all but lost his very senses.


From the very moment that Sobhuza shut his eyes for the last time, the political battles within the royal-family had already started. Within the boundaries of national politics itself, the issue was who, within the Liqoqo regime, would be the ultimate authority. Internationally, however, the key beneficiary was already waiting for the opportunity to rid the country of all A.N.C. cadres. After Sobhuza’s demise the borders between Swaziland and South Africa thus became obsolete. Apartheid forces could come into Swaziland at any time and dispose off their targets. It was not only a case of the liqoqo regime turning a blind eye to what was going on. Swazi authorities went as far as aiding apartheid forces in their hunts for A.N.C. cadres. A prominent police commissioner was so deeply involved that the A.N.C. had to assassinate him in order to survive because his post as police-commissioner gave him enough power to dispose-off A.N.C. combatants under false charges. Apartheid forces were dangerous enough, however with the help of a police-force that had the respect of the locals, their destructive force was magnified. This continued until the A.N.C. eventually relocated to Mozambique. To disqualify the notion that liqoqo was a regime backed-and probably created by Pretoria requires one to pretend that South Africa’s foreign-policy towards its immediate neighbours was one of total non-interference, and that perhaps the continued existence of A.N.C. operatives in Swaziland posed no threat to Apartheid.

The Liqoqo regime meanwhile was caught up in infighting. This power struggle eventually led to some of its prominent members being arrested and charged with high-treason. To ease the fears of the population which, as stated earlier, had begun to sense that they were living in a state run by a military-backed royal-junta, they decided to go ahead with plans of installing a new figure-head that the country would loyally revere as their new king even as they ran the country’s affairs. Many people who study this period go completely off the mark when they claim that Mswati pardoned the prisoners after assuming power. Mswati was young and totally powerless at the time. What they ought to say therefore is that the winning faction eventually released its opponents when it deemed that they no longer posed a threat to their ambitions.


“A king is a king because of his people”. This is another true maxim. Kings are not born. Whoever that the king-makers decide to make a king eventually becomes accepted by the people as a king. Propaganda machinery, whether it operates in Nazi Germany, Congo or Swaziland, will always succeed in swaying public opinion to eventually thinking that their leaders are legitimate. Any street-urchin can become the king of Swaziland if the authorities that have power choose that it is in their interests to make him one.

Who was Ntfombi Tfwala? What criteria were used in installing her as the new Queen-mother? This is perhaps the heart of the story. As that story goes, Ntfombi Tfwala was never married to king Sobhuza. She was in-fact a maid to one of his senior wives. Apparently impregnated his wife’s maid. This illegitimacy is in-fact what makes Mswati’s kingship controversial. He is a bastard. A power-hungry royal junta would never have willingly handed power over to a legitimate heir to the throne because doing so would have left them without any bargaining-chips for power. Thus for as long as they lived they have always had authority over the boy-king and his mother because they know what the rest of the population did not; which is that Mswati is not a legitimate king.

From the day of his coronation and the subsequent birthday-parties, Mswati’s legitimacy has been fed to the public. The initial version of his kingship was that even Sobhuza did not know that Mswati would be heir. The official explanation was that the heir to the throne is chosen by the Liqoqo council of state. Recently, the official line has changed and the latest version claims that Sobhuza picked Mswati to be his heir to the throne. Of course photographs were released by the media showing a young Mswati walking besides his father (or so we are made to believe he is) as if to say that he was always close to his father because he was the heir apparent. It s public knowledge, however, that the king always has boys around him. Even Mswati does, and none of them are his own children.

A more acceptable theory is that Sobhuza left the name of the heir-apparent with the Queen-regent because as a man of tradition knows well, that is the person that had the authority to coronate the new king. That name was carried by the queen-regent to her grave while Mswati’s appointers ruled the country.

As prince Mfanasibili has pointed out repeatedly, Mswati has never had authority in the country. He is always told what to do by the people who put him in power. He is only the face of a large junta composed mainly of his elder siblings. If this is still the case at his current age, it was obviously worse when he was younger. Mswati’s first years as a king were largely spent fulfilling his ceremonial duties while his brothers, aunts and uncles made political decisions that he only had to sign. He was not forced to sign; he was merely obliged to do so because as stated, those that placed him in power knew very well that he could be successfully dethroned very easily.


Such a story is difficult to keep secret. However, history as - one ought to remember - is “told by the victors”. As a result, the official non-seditious version of the succession-story is that which is told by those who succeeded in installing their man onto the throne. Those powerful people, unfortunately are implicated by the story hence it will remain a secret until that fateful day when the last of them will either lose grip on power or pass-on.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

To Vote or Not to Vote

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

William Shakespeare - To be, or not to be (from Hamlet 3/1)

There is absolutely no question about the fact that Swaziland's hybrid regime can never be changed through the ballot. Unlike in Swaziland, elections in Zimbabwe and the U.S.A will usher in a new set of leaders and possibly a new set of policies. The question that many Swazis ask themselves is whether it is worth-while to vote or not. Swazi opposition parties and the unions have vowed to once again boycott the forth-coming elections and current events suggest that they are following their plan.

How effective has this strategy been in terms of building up the movement for democracy? In other words, what does a boycott achieve that a well-planned lobby-group in parliament couldn’t possibly achieve? The grass-roots movement that could have been the basis for a mass-uprising is nowhere near as big as it should be after so many years of struggle and it is doubtful that any armed insurrection is looming. It is within this context that it must be acknowledged that opposition parties might lack the creativity and acumen to seize what might be a defining moment.

To illustrate this fact, it is worth noting that an economic research based in Pretoria predicted that if the movement launched by reformists won the elections and the regime either cheated them of their win or refused to open parliament, it could result in an upheaval similar to the one in Kenya. What the research group was speculating on was the very real possibility of agitating the people on the ground by using a well- established and non-radical medium-the elections. In other words, while it is true to say that the winning of elections cannot bring about any real direct change in the status quo, it is not true to say that they cannot be used to achieve a more advantageous position for the movement.

In the event that the progressive movement has decided to ignore this possibility because they do not have the patience to wait for the people’s response and have decided to resort to arms, it is just as justified for them to ensure that they have a parliament that is sympathetic to their deeds. The terrorist bill is currently being debated in parliament and it is not surprising that the current parliament will pass it without even bothering to define what a terrorist is and whether it would be right to pass a terrorist bill without first ridding the country of the conditions that cause terrorism, such as the lack of freedom of speech and other things central to achieving democracy in a peaceful way.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Obama phenomenon

It is very difficult for any person of African descent, or any person for that matter, to ignore the historic event currently happening in America. The significance of an African American being one step away from the highest and most powerful office in the U.S.A. is more remarkable than Neil Amstrong's moon landing.

The question posed is: "What does Obama mean to sub-Saharan Africa?" This is his fatherland, the continent that he has kept close to his heart and has never been ashamed to be associated with, even as other bi-racial celebrities like Tiger Woods have chosen to distance themselves from their African roots. In short, beyond his stint at the white house, however it might be, what will be the most significant legacy of having a proudly African-American president to young Africans across the continent?

The answer to young Swazis is more complex that it is to those in democratic countries because despite the "Audacity of hope for a better country", ordinary Swazis have absolutely no chance of ever being the heads of States of their country. And their hope might as well remain nothing but pipe-dreams unless they step-up to the challenge as this young man has done. To dare to challenge convention is a revolutionary thing in itself. A black-man with a Kenyan father daring to cross-over to the mainstream voting population to profess his dream of a better America is as revolutionary as fighting for democracy in the country by any means necessary.It is hoped that there will be young Baracks coming from the population.