By Bahle Gama
His Majesty King Mswati III has opened the floor for a dialogue with emaSwati and urged the public to use the Sibaya, People’s Parliament platform to address every grievance they have and would love to see resolved.
The King officially opened Sibaya on Monday afternoon, where he said discussions will not end with looking for or suggesting a Prime Minister (PM) but also delve into issues that are troublesome to the nation.
His Majesty clarified that deliberations at Sibaya should not be on governance alone but should include all national issues.
“Whatever thorns you have and need to have them addressed, use this forum to cough out all what is in your hearts to the King,” His Majesty said. The King noted that the country was recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic and that the nation has had to deal with its dire effects on jobs and the livelihoods of emaSwati.
Therefore, His Majesty urged the nation to deliberate on the economy as well.
“We also experienced unrest which is a thorny discussion that the nation must engage in. These discussions must be heard to the very end,” the King said. His Majesty applauded the nation for coming to Sibaya in numbers as it shows the love, support, and respect emaSwati have for their culture, stating that he was glad the nation had gathered following the recent events that took place in the country.
The King observed the presence of emaSwati who reside in neighbouring countries and took the time to be part of Sibaya, as well as foreigners and the respective dignitaries of the different portfolios in the country.
He highlighted that Sibaya was not the only event where these attendants were seen, but also during other national events including the Umhlanga Reed Dance Ceremony.
“We applaud the different national activities including Umhlanga whereby Imbali came in numbers and participated, from Ludzidzini to Mbangweni Royal Residences. These were a great success that showcased the unity, strength, and fortitude of the nation,” His Majesty said. The presence of the young Imbali who displayed their love for culture made His Majesty happy during the reed dance ceremonies.
His Majesty stated that it showed that emaSwati were embracing their culture, young and old because “culture was given to us by the Almighty God.” The reed dance was preceded by a 55/55 double celebration which was celebrated peacefully and beautifully by the nation. His Majesty noted that the beauty of the double celebration was that it was attended by guests from different parts of the world.
These were Lesotho King Letsie III, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Former SA President Jacob Zuma, and Former Botswana President Ian Khama amongst others.
“The extent of the greatness of the celebration went beyond our borders, such that those present witnessed our unity and joy as a nation,” His Majesty said.
. . .King urges Sibaya to advise him on the next PM
“Every ship needs a captain.” These remarks were made by His Majesty when he invited the nation to participate in the process of nominating a Prime Minister candidate. The King noted that the 12th Parliament remained incomplete and that needed to be addressed immediately.
His Majesty said for every decision to be made, it ought to be prayed for, and he saw that Sibaya forms part of the King’s advisors. “I realized that Sibaya in its form is a Council to the King and saw it befitting to do so in this process of appointing a PM,” The King said.
His Majesty called for the nation to discuss and advise him in the process, adding that emaSwati needed to familiarise themselves with the Constitution and ought to remember and be cognisant of what it says about appointing cabinet, in terms of the PM advising the King. The King further advised that in terms of the panel of seven appointed, emaSwati should ensure to speak out if for any reason they see some faces missing that will add value to the discussions.
His Majesty said emaSwati are allowed to recommend whomever they deem fit to do so. His Majesty expressed his delight in seeing emaSwati who came in numbers on Monday, especially those who had travelled from outside the country, whom he advised to look at it as the same as visiting their grandmother’s place.
“As the nation is building, we are open to all advice and urge those from outside the country to give input to the nation as Sibaya continues,” His Majesty said. The King notified the nation that he would return once deliberations had occurred and ended and urged emaSwati to maintain the respect they are known for globally.
His Majesty further admonished the nation not to forget the country’s cultural practices and honor which he said should be displayed throughout the conversations that will be had in the duration of Sibaya. “I plead that it continues to be the form and structure of all deliberations as we move forward. We want Eswatini to remain peaceful to prosper,” His Majesty said.
. . .‘Unrest a thorny discussion nation must engage in’
His Majesty has highlighted the June 29, 2021, unrest as one of the thorny discussions that the nation must engage in during Sibaya.
This was concerning the effects the unrest had on the country’s economy and its recovery. “We experienced unrest which is a thorny discussion that the nation must engage in. These discussions must be had to the very end,” the King said.
In May 2021, the Kingdom of Eswatini experienced its worst bout of political violence in its postcolonial history. The unrest in the small southern African country, landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique, started in May when protesters took to the streets to denounce perceived police brutality in the aftermath of the death of 25-year-old university student Thabani Nkomonye.
Soon the unrest spread to the rural areas, which caught the Kingdom unprepared as demonstrators started to demand a wide range of political and economic reforms. As the civil unrest escalated, both public and private properties were deliberately burnt down, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs.
Sectors such as wholesale and retail, manufacturing, transport and logistics, and other services were reportedly among the hardest hit. The political unrest affected the economic recovery momentum resulting in an E1.2 billion shortfall in overall gross domestic product (GDP).
The unrest worsened the situation as the country’s economic activity slumped in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, recording a historic recession for Eswatini’s economy.