The political situation in Swaziland continues to be volatile. Insecurity has worsened under the 49 years of absolute monarchy, the last in Africa. Political parties in Swaziland have remained banned since the imposition of absolutism on 12 April 1973. The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) was automatically banned under the 1973 royal decree as soon as it was formed on 9 April 2011, joining other parties that had already been declared illegal: the People’s United Democratic Movement and the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress.
The popular uprising against the dictatorship in 2021 was met by the deployment of the military and the police across the country. Under the command of the ruling monarch, Mswati III, the military and the police unleashed unprecedented violence against unarmed protesters, leading to about 100 deaths since 29 June 2021. The military has not yet been recalled to barracks. The regime has continued to deploy the army in communities, leading to fear engulfing the people. This fear is not without basis: the military continues to harass people and raid their homes, sometimes even assaulting and killing members of communities.
One of the latest human rights abuses by the army took place on Saturday night, 16 July 2022, where the military beat a man (Samkeliso Macross Matsebula) to death for no apparent reason. This took place in Mangcongco constituency, east of Swaziland within the Manzini district. According to media reports, the soldiers assaulted and killed Matsebula and then called the police to take his body to the mortuary. Matsebula was bleeding from the eyes, nose, and mouth. His teeth were severely damaged.
These and other gross human rights violations have been met with spirited resistance from the people, however. The people have shown in numerous ways that they will no longer be passive victims of the brutal regime. On the other hand, Mswati has shown signs of extreme desperation to cling to power. He knows too well that as soon as the people take over, he and his cronies will be called upon to face justice for all the crimes they have committed against the poor.
The CPS has been the most consistent political organisation in terms of the call for a revolution: that is, the total, forcible overthrow of the monarchy and its replacement with a democratic republic on the road to socialism. In waging the people’s struggles, the CPS organises community rallies, which include the sunset rallies which have become popular with the masses.
The CPS launched the countrywide sunset rallies programme on 25 February 2022 in Matsapha under the “Turning up the Heat for Democracy Now” campaign. The community responded positively to the calls for freedom and the release of political prisoners – and defiantly in the face of intimidation by the regime and police raids targeting the Mbhuleni, Buhleni, Luve, Lubulini and other communities in various parts of Swaziland. These are some of the communities where the CPS had held rallies in the lead-up to 25 February.
The first sunset rally was held on 4 March 2022 at Msunduza community, one of the townships outside the capital city, Mbabane.
Because of the reality that the people have no one to turn to for their security and other material needs, the CPS saw the need for communities to defend themselves against tinkhundla repression by establishing community councils for security, welfare, and other issues. These community councils remain central to the growing campaigns for people’s power.
Addressing the Msunduza community during the 4 March 2022 sunset rally, the head of the CPS Women’s Commission, Gabi Ndukuya, said, “These community councils will help us, members of the community. We no longer need the killer police in our communities. We must take charge of our own security and keep ourselves safe from all crimes, including police violence.”
“As the Communist Party, we say this is the decisive moment for us to unite and overthrow the Mswati autocracy, for the autocracy is of no good for our developmental aspirations except to kill us and sink us deeper into poverty,” Ndukuya added.
At Msunduza community’s sunset rally on 24 June 2022, the CPS National Organising Secretary, Simphiwe Dlamini, summarised the urgent necessity of community councils as follows:
The CPS’s community rallies have not gone without attention from the security forces, however. On 20 March 2022, a unit of around 15 military personnel invaded the home of a CPS organiser, Ayanda Ndwandwe, in his home, Lubulini in the Lubombo region, and kidnapped his two children aged 3 and 5 years old. The children were released later in the night to their family, although the army continued the hunt for Ayanda.
On 23 March 2022, the police kidnapped CPS member, Bongi Nkambule. The police who were travelling in a police truck kidnapped him in the capital city, Mbabane. The police heavily assaulted him from the time they kidnapped him and took him to the Mbabane police station. Later in the night, the police dumped him on the outskirts of the capital city without any charge.
In the early hours of 28 June 2022, a battalion of close to 200 police officers invaded the Mbikwakhe area in Matsapha where a majority of CPS members who study at the nearby University of Swaziland and Gwamile Voctim College reside. The police invaded their flat and confiscated their laptops and food.
The police did not cease harassing Communist activists, however. On the morning of 13 July 2022, over 30 armed police officers again invaded the Msunduza community in what they coined a search for guns and grenades. The true reasons for the raid were to instil fear among community members and victimise political activists. They went on to raid the home of CPS member Bongi Nkambule, whom they had assaulted in March, under the claim of searching for weapons. They went on to harass and insult his wife. Bongi and other CPS members continue to be under police surveillance.
During the South African Communist Party’s 15th National Congress held in Johannesburg from 13-16 July 2022, CPS General Secretary, Thokozane Kenneth Kunene, alerted delegates to the war-like reality that Swaziland has been engulfed in, and noted that the situation has now matured to a point where deaths are happening from both sides of the fence. He went on to remind delegates of the urgent need for practical solidarity with the people of Swaziland, particularly solidarity that would match the prevailing conditions. In this regard, he called for a summit focusing on Swaziland, with its objective to intensify solidarity for the people of Swaziland.
As the political situation in Swaziland worsens, the leadership of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) continues to prove that it has no solution for the oppressed people of Swaziland. A SADC Troika extraordinary summit which would have focused on Swaziland (scheduled for 21 July 2022) was cancelled because Mswati refused to attend. The SADC leadership, once again, easily yielded to Mswati’s tantrums and nodded in his favour.
Notwithstanding the cancellation of the summit, the protest which had been planned went ahead in Pretoria at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa, where the SADC Troika extraordinary summit was to take place. The CPS also took part, sending out the reminder that the freedom of the people of Swaziland remains in the hands of the Swazi people themselves and not on the SADC leaders, who have protected the ruling Swazi autocracy for decades.
The CPS has also deepened the formation of study units in the communities, guided by the Marxist-Leninist scientific method to revolution. From the study units, more Swazis are becoming conscious of the need for the total dismantlement of the current system and for the attainment of democracy. The masses of our country have also understood the need to render the country ungovernable, including preventing the regime from holding its 2023 parliamentary elections.