By Muzi Dlamini
From being one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies in 2022, Eswatini is at risk of seeing a sudden economic meltdown following the European Union, one of the country’s development partners decision to halt financial aid to the Kingdom over what it has termed ‘funds being used for activities that violate human rights’.
The EU’s decision has been necessitated by the widespread disinformation, misinformation and ‘fake news’ concerning Eswatini’s political landscape and the observation and protection of human rights.
Eswatini risks losing out on over E557 million in funding from the EU following a vote on a motion by the European Parliament. On Thursday, the European Parliament voted on a joint motion calling for among other things, for the EU to review and, where applicable, suspend support programmes for Eswatini where ‘funds risk being used for activities that violate human rights’.
The resolution was agreed upon, which means the vote passed. The E557 million is money which was set aside by the EU for the period 2021 to 2024 and the funding was meant to focus on the priority area of human development and social inclusion, to assist emaSwati youth as announced in November.
Read More: EU Parliament votes to ‘review, suspend or halt, programmes’ for Eswatini
The EU has other projects in the country including the GET. Invest Programme which mobilises investment in renewable energy in developing countries which support supports project developers and companies towards investment readiness and links them with financiers.
The European Parliament Thursday vote followed a joint motion on the situation of human rights defenders in Eswatini following the murder of Thulani Maseko. The EU Parliament wanted to vote on a motion to strongly condemn the killing of Maseko. The motion stated that the Human Rights lawyer “was killed at his home just hours after King Mswati III made threats against members of Eswatini’s pro-democracy movement”.
The King’s speech has since been taken out of context and the blame was put on his shoulders following numerous media reports that only focused on one aspect of the speech, pushing what appears to be an orchestrated narrative. The European Parliament appears to have taken those media reports as the gospel truth which led to its decision.
But what did His Majesty, King Mswati III say on the day? Rubicon Investigations has gone back to the speech delivered and listened to it in its entirety. The more attentive you listen to King Mswati III’s speech when addressing the traditional army regiments (libutfo) on January 21, the more it becomes plausible that insurgents, propagandists, and their accomplices deliberately twisted his words and put them out of context to peddle disinformation, misinformation and ‘fake news’ in a strong bid to mislead the world into believing that the state had a hand Maseko’s death.
Maseko was shot dead by unknown gunmen at his home on Saturday, January 21 at around 10:00 pm. This was the day after His Majesty King Mswati III had dispersed the throngs of traditional regiments.
Read More: The dangers of misinformation
When addressing the regiments, the King focused on respect and peace. He spoke a lot about how happy he was to see the regiments displaying respect to the authorities and showing their undying love of their customs and culture, adding that they should go back to their different communities to spread the gospel of respect and peace because emaSwati are well known for that.
The King went on to applaud the regiments for attending the Incwala Ceremony which he said was highly attended and emaSwati showed respect and remained humbled during the dancing and celebration of the ritual. The King then raised his grave concern about the disturbing reports concerning the attack of the regiments where one warrior was shot as the regiments were on their way to cut the sacred shrub.
The warrior was allegedly shot by one of the insurgents’ groups under the banner of Swaziland Solidarity Forces as they had publicly declared war against all those who were going to attend Incwala. In an audio clip that was widely posted on Facebook, an anonymous hooligan sternly warned emaSwati against attending Incwala and further said those who would attend would be dealt with.
“We are also aware that while we were busy dancing Incwala, we heard despicable events which were aimed at spoiling Incwala because there are some people who had vowed that the ceremony will not be held this year and then you wonder if they own Incwala or does Incwala belong to them? However, Against these odds, we successfully danced Incwala notwithstanding the vows against holding the ceremony. We are happy to have successfully held Incwala and we want to rebuke these evil spirits which were against the Incwala. We are saying these spirits are not right as we have observed that they have just come with people who have given themselves licenses to just burn people and government properties and kill people as if they have a licence of killing,” the King remarked.
He went on to say such evil and criminal acts should come to a dead stop this year! “Committing those things brings about a tough situation because once a person starts doing something life-threatening to another, that triggers retaliation and revenge because it does not mean when you start doing something perilous to other people, they won’t stand up and protect themselves,” the King said.
His Majesty further said it was unacceptable to see people displaying senseless behaviour and acting as if they are demon-possessed. “What I am saying is, the demons in them should get out of them and stop the killing of emaSwati. What makes me wonder is when then the country starts to act and drive the demons out, they then raise an alarm and run to their dear friends who are training them, misleading them, and arming them with guns to use for the killing of emaSwati. They then cry out and say Mswati has brought in mercenaries who are now killing us. And then you are alarmed and wonder, who exactly started the trouble! The committing of criminal acts will bring a tough situation and those who will continue perpetrating and committing unlawful acts must know that harsh actions would be taken against them”, the King said.
Despite the King’s remarks being in context, calling for an end to violent attacks and the killing of innocent emaSwati perpetrated by alleged insurrectionaries, those behind the killings, propagandists’ and their accomplices intentionally twisted His Majesty’s words to suit their agenda. Through Social Media, they splashed only a misinterpreted snippet of the 2 000 words of speech.
A most accurate translation of the King’s remarks on the killing and mercenaries was: “What makes me wonder is when then the country starts to act and driving the demons out. They then raise an alarm and run to their dear friends who are training them, misleading them, and arming them with guns to use for the killing of emaSwati. They then cry out and say Mswati has brought in mercenaries who are now killing us. And then one gets alarmed and wonders, who exactly started the trouble!”
However, the international media, rights groups and the instigators of violence twisted the words of the King to have said: “These people started the violence first, but when the state institutes a crackdown on them for their actions, they make a lot of noise blaming King Mswati for bringing in mercenaries. Nobody should shed any tear or complain if mercenaries kill them.”
By all appearances, this is nowhere closer to what the King said in vernacular. Strikingly, the international media and rights groups focused only on the snippet to link the King’s remarks to the killing of Thulani Maseko, insinuating that the King admitted that he has brought mercenaries into the country.
The snippet of the King’s speech in which he touched on mercenaries: Siyati majaha kutsi nakugidvwa Incwala kwase kuvela nemikhuhlane lebonakalisa kutsi awu beseyifuna kunyundza, Ifuna kunyundza Incwala njenjoba kukhona labebafungile kutsi ngeke ibekhona Incwala, bese uyamangala kutsi yabo yini Incwala? Kodvwa naku sewele, noma ngabe bekunjani live lakaNgwane lewele, sesiwelele ngesheya majaha. Nembala sikhutsata loko siphindze sekhute nalemimoya lengasiyo ngoba lemoya lengasiyo seyachamuka nje futsi sekunebantfu lesebane license yekuhamba bashisa nje babulala bantfu kungatsi bane licence. Leto tintfo leto kufanele kutsi kubonakale kutsi tiyaphela titsi nya lonyaka majaha! Ngoba loko kuyasenta simo kutsi sibelukhuni ngoba wacala kususa intfo lengasiyo, kutawutsi nasekuphindziseka, ngoba kuphindzisela akusho kutsi nawucale intfo labanye abakwati yini kukwenta.
Ngako ke ngete live lakhe nakungabonakala kutsi wonkhe wonkhe ungenela kuhlanya, njengoba nje kukhona labebahlanya laveni kubonakala kutsi baphetfwe kuhlanya, baphetfwe madimoni, kutsi lamadimoni labephetse akaphela atsi nya njengoba sikhulumakusukela lamuhla majaha!”
The English Translation: “We are also aware gentlemen that while we were busy dancing Incwala, we heard despicable doings which were aimed at spoiling Incwala because there are some people who had vowed that the ceremony will not be held this year and then you wonder if they own Incwala or does Incwala belongs to them? However, Against the odds, we successfully danced Incwala notwithstanding the vows against holding the ceremony. We are happy to have successfully held Incwala and we want to rebuke these evil spirits which were against the Incwala.
We are saying these spirits are not good as they have just come with people who have given themselves licences to just burn people and the government’s properties and kill people as if they have a licence of killing. And that thing should come to a dead stop this year gentlemen!
Committing those things results in a tough bearing because once you start doing something life-threatening things towards another, that prompts retaliation because it does not mean that when you start doing something wrong and threatening other peoples’ lives, those people cannot retaliate to protect themselves.
We cannot have a country wherein we see people displaying senseless behaviour and others acting as if they are demon-possessed. What we are saying is that the demons possessing them must get out of them and stop what they are doing as we speak gentlemen! What makes me wonder is when then the country starts to crack down, they then cry and run to their dear friends who are training them, misleading them and arming them with guns to use for the killing of emaSwati. Then when the country starts to act against their nefarious deeds, they then cry out and say Mswati has recruited mercenaries who are now killing us. And then you are alarmed and wonder, who exactly started the trouble!”