Monday, August 12, 2013
The Swaziland Situation
To begin, it seems rather suspect that Swaziland is singled out for being un-democratic. There are, just to remind everyone, only three independent monarchies in the whole of Africa (Morocco, Swaziland and Lesotho) and all three have been subject to a level of scrutiny that not many others receive. Yes, Swaziland is an absolute monarchy, there is no democracy and no political freedom in the sense that most people in the world understand the concept. However, there are plenty of other countries (republics) all throughout Africa that are undemocratic but which are simply not prepared to openly admit the fact. You cannot tell me that in the whole continent of Africa that the people of Swaziland are the only people being denied free and democratic multi-party representative government. Perhaps I am a little swayed by the fact that so many republican dictators tend to be embraced one minute and condemned the next by the leftist, mainstream media of the world. In 2011 U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden said that President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was “not a dictator” only for the U.S. to later support his overthrow on the grounds that he was a dictator. His elected successor was later also labeled as a dictator (despite the democracy part) and the military taking control of the country was cheered. In the nearby republic of South Africa there are elections and representative government yet the same political party has held power since 1994 and no one seems the least bit troubled by that astounding record of electoral success, even as the overall condition of the country has deteriorated rapidly.
The only other independent monarchy in the neighborhood of Swaziland is the little Kingdom of Lesotho. There, things are rather different. The King, Letsie III, is a British-education Roman Catholic who is quite popular and who is known for staying out of politics even when his people have wished him to intervene. He likes ranching and classical music and he and his (one) wife have charitable foundations to help their people who, though poor, have a literacy rate of over 80% even though education is not universal, a literacy rate higher for females rather than males. Oddly enough, you never seem to hear much about King Letsie III in the international news media. However, despite being a constitutional monarchy with a largely ceremonial sovereign, Lesotho is not without problems. In the recent past the country was troubled with a military that kept taking over the country and even though things have been calmer lately, just like Swaziland poverty remains a pervasive problem and the AIDS epidemic is disastrous. Another problem, which Swaziland does not have, is that some people in Lesotho are using their political freedom to call for the end of their country altogether, campaigning for it to be annexed to the South African republic. Perhaps, in holding on to absolute power, the King of Swaziland is trying to avoid military coups or the total loss of the independence of his country at the hands of political interference from outside her borders? It is a thought that might at least be considered.
Again, there are certainly many things in Swaziland that need to be improved and there is much about the King that I wish was different. However, it is still wrong for the country to be held to a different standard to the many republics of the region where things are just as bad and often much worse. There is plenty of room for just criticism but it is also blatantly obvious that the ruler of Swaziland is being singled out both for being a monarch and for being an absolute monarch because there are numerous other national leaders who are far, far worse who are seldom criticized. In fact, when someone does venture to criticize some of those republican leaders of failed or failing countries, they are often met with a backlash from the very same leftist media that is always so quick to point fingers at the King of Swaziland. I hope I have been clear that I am no fan of his, but fair is fair and he should not be treated worse just because he is a monarch.