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(en) South Africa, An anarchist Journal Zabalaza: #7 - SWAZILAND AFTER THE BOMBINGS by MK (ZACF, Swaziland) and Michael Schmidt

Date Wed, 03 Jan 2007 11:17:44 +0200

SIn December and January, the royal dictatorship of Swaziland was rocked by a series of 17 petrol-bombings of state targets by pro-democracy militants. No-one was seriously injured in the attacks, but the paranoid state overplayed its hand, arresting several militants and charging them with treason, which normally carries the death penalty, for an offence that at most amounted to damage to private property.
The independently-owned Times of Swaziland was quick to place the blame for the bombings on the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF) which is organised clandestinely in Swaziland - the only significant left force in the country after the collapse of the Swazi Communist Party, but hardly an organisation "even mightier than PUDEMO [the outlawed main opposition Peoples’ United Democratic Movement] or SWAYOCO [the Swaziland Youth Congress]".

In a January 15 article headlined "Zabalaza’s claims of bombing police van," the writer, Mduduzi Magagula, falsely claimed that the ZACF had "stoned and petrol bombed a police vehicle in Manzini during a PUDEMO organised demonstration recently." The false claim perhaps arose from a misreading of a ZACF report from Manzini on the bombing of an armoured police "hippo" by young comrades.

Nevertheless, the Times was professional enough to publish in full a denial of involvement in the bombings by the ZACF - including the federation’s stated aims in the country:

1) The ZACF, which operates in both South Africa and Swaziland, supports the pro-democracy movement in Swaziland, but it does so realising that the Swazi political system can only be changed democratically by the bulk of the Swazi popular classes organising en masse to change it at grassroots level into a form acceptable to themselves. A few people running around with petrol-bombs is both insufficient to change the system and is an anti-democratic substitution of shadowy unaccountable individuals for democratic mass action.

2) Therefore, the ZACF as a whole has no policy of petrol-bombing state or capitalist targets, and its membership in Swaziland have denied to our annual regional congress in December 2005 to having taken part in any such bombings. The report carried on our website of the attack on the hippo has been misread to suggest that ZACF members participated in the attack. The reference to "comrade-controlled" territory simply implies territory controlled, at least at the time, by comrades of the pro-democratic movement, not necessarily ZACF members.

3) The ZACF remains committed to the struggle for mass participatory democracy for all people resident in Swaziland (and more broadly in southern Africa) but, as The Times of Swaziland article correctly reported, "agitates to go beyond the usual bourgeois betrayal and involve a destruction of the Swazi capitalist state and its replacement by decentralised popular assemblies" of the working class, poor and peasantry.


Still, the bombings awoke the Swazi populace from their traditional political timidity. After the bombings, the masses throughout the country have now realised that with the support of internationalism, they can do anything against the system. It’s as if before the bombings, the majority had the belief that the decisions of the royal family, cabinet ministers and the parliament were always final. The proof of the system’s weakness is their over-reaction, threatening suspects with 25 years in prison for treason.

Those accused are: PUDEMO secretary-general Ignatius B. Dlamini (41), Mduduzi E. Mamba (34) of Sipofaneni, Robert Nzima (40), Sicelo Mkhonta (22), Goodwill Du Pont (19) of Matsetsa, Themba Mabuza (32) of Mbelebeleni, Vusi Shongwe (37) of Sidzakeni, Kenneth Mkhonta (32), Mfanawenkhosi Mtshali (31) and Sipho Jele (36) of Mshikishiki, Mfanukhona Nkambule (26), Sipho Hlophe (38) of Gobholo, Wandile Dludlu (24) the president of the University of Swaziland’s students’ representative council, Mphandlana Shongwe (43), and Gibholo Mfan’fikile Nkambule (16) of Nkwalini.

After this decision by the government, everyone sympathised with the accused guys. But nobody voiced their disagreement with the decision because it came from the "master", someone who looks like and is known to be a monster, King Mswati III. The accused claim they were tortured in custody, as did Mduduzi Dlamini of Mhlosheni, who may be forced to turn state’s witness after confessing to treason in February.

However, international interest in the trial of the alleged bombers - who the state has so far failed to prove guilty - proved crucial. On the final day in court, everyone was interested to see the power of the international supporters of the accused compared to the Swazi prosecutors and the different way they treated Swazi citizens.

When bail was granted to the suspects on March 15, most of the close comrades and friends of the accused came and congratulated us, expressing trust in the display of international solidarity. And I trust that everybody realised that they can take direct action against these leadership sects, whether state, business or so-called revolutionary. For PUDEMO’s stance on the treason trial, read Swaziland: Smoking Gun or Replica? online at: www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=2412


The fact that the ruling class responded with such a heavy hand to the bombings forced a change in the people’s mentality. This change is proven by the five key developments. Firstly, there is much movement on the ground: for example, the youth in Manzini are mobilising against the system of patriarchy that enables their elders to reserve all jobs for themselves without any going to the youth.

Furthermore, even the state-owned media has now started to take action against the corrupt national leadership - throwing the spotlight, for instance, on a cabinet minister who was caught with his pants down with a young woman not his wife. Now the ZACF does not take a moral position on adultery, but the point we want to make is rather that the media is no longer scared to take action against the ruling sect that believes it is always right.

Thirdly, there are even cabinet ministers who are currently banned from leaving the country after being suspected of corruption - and all these suspicions were raised by working class people.

This shows that the masses of Swaziland have started to regain their feet, and their sense of self-confidence to challenge the autocracy. It also suggests that the Imbokodvo vehicle is becoming contentious, is beginning to break down and will eventually fade completely (the Imbokodvo National Movement is the sole legal political party, established in 1964 by Mswati’s father, King Sobhuza II who outlawed all opposition in 1973).

Fourthly, within the cabinet ministers, a scandal has arisen around the Minister of Health and Social Welfare Mfofo Mkambule who organised some parliamentarians and citizens into a structure called the Inhlava Forum, which purports to be merely a discussion forum, but which has raised the eyebrows of the leadership who see it as the embryo of a political party. As a result, Mkambule was axed.

The Inhlava Forum’s Manifesto called for a conventional bourgeois-democratic separation of powers between "parliament", the courts, the monarchy and Imbokodvo and for a constituency-based representative democracy that consults social organisations in pursuit of serving the needs of the Swazi majority. But it did not spell out how this would differ from the false representation already entrenched as the Tinkhundla system.

Under Tinkhundla, constituency MPs are nominated by loyalist local councils headed by tribal chiefs and the "parliament" to which they are elected has nothing but advisory powers. Last year, the High Court ruled political opposition parties "non-existent" after they demanded a say in the revised one-party constitution of 2005. Now an apparently bogus political party, the African United Democratic Party (AUDP) has been allowed, under this non-party system, to "negotiate" with the parasitic elite. Clearly the elite is starting to feel the heat from the grassroots and is trying various strategies to squirm out of the trap it has painted itself into.


Lastly, at Nhlangano in the southern part of Swaziland, the masses and the poor are doing things against their immediate class enemies. For example, there is one textile company by the name of Zheng Yong with more than 2,000 employees, whose factory was burned to the ground. This factory produces the famous fashion brand Timberland. Initially, the workers had embarked on a strike for a wage increase and 30 days’ maternity leave.

The case went to court and the courts performed their class role by declaring the strike illegal. The decision divided the strikers, with those who feared the power of the law returning to work. But those who stood by their rights as workers decided to take direct action and, recognising their employers as their immediate class enemy (capital, the monarchy and the state being more remote enemies), the source of their poverty and exploitation, burned the factory down.

This shows that the workers, a key component of Swazi society, for a long time politically inactive, have started to recognise their class enemy and start to do something to directly address the problem. Recognizing that the oppressed people of Swaziland have demands of their own, which we endorse provided they are progressive and democratic in nature, the ZACF demands the following:

1) A general amnesty for all political prisoners;

2) Freedom of association, assembly and speech, and full trade union rights;

3) The abolition of the pseudo-democratic Tinkhundla, Liqoqo (chieftains inner circle), royal and state power structures and their replacement by directly-democratic, decentralised popular assemblies of the working class, poor and peasantry which will be horizontally federated across the territory;

4) Equal rights for women;

5) Abolition of all chiefly privileges - especially the power to steal land from the poor;

6) Land redistribution in both commercial and traditional sectors;

7) Free and democratic education, with student representative councils at schools;

8) A living wage campaign in the plantations, factories and farms;

9) A ban on retrenchments, and well-paid decent jobs for all: and

10) an end to discrimination based on HIV/Aids status and free anti-retroviral drugs for all people living with the virus.

They can arrest us, torture us, and beat us.
Still they’ll never ever defeat us!

web site link: http://www.zabalaza.net/index02.htm
pdf of #7 - http://www.zabalaza.net/pdfs/sapams/zab07.pdf
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