Event organizer

Swaziland Communist Party organizer attacked again as regime gets nervous: Peoples Dispatch

Demonstrations by militants of the Communist Party of Swaziland. Picture file

Early in the morning of Wednesday July 13, King Mswati III’s police raided the home of Bongi Nkambule, a member of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), which is banned along with all other political parties in Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

Nkambule, whom police identify as a key organizer in the local pro-democracy movement, had previously been tortured in police custody less than four months ago. When around 30 heavily armed police “invaded” Msunduza township on the outskirts of the capital Mbabane around 6.30am, he knew he was the target.

“They were misled in the wrong direction when they asked me. It gave me just enough time to get out of the house and run into the forest to escape,” Nkambule said. Dispatch of the Peoplestalking on the phone from a hiding place.

“Without showing any search warrant to my wife who was asking for it, they then broke into my house and ransacked everything. Then they arrested my wife and dragged her to the police station around 8 am. She was detained there, beaten and harassed for several hours before being released around 2 p.m.,” he said. “She’s not safe, they threatened to come back and kill her.”

The couple have two children, one aged 11 and the other a two-year-old baby. Nkambule supported his family by working as a painter. He had struggled for the past four months to make ends meet losing his regular job when his employer was intimidated after he was arrested by police without a warrant on March 23.

At that time, the police assaulted him for several hours in police custody, then, without filing a complaint, dumped him just outside the capital, wounding his arms, legs and head. .

Sunset Rallies to symbolize the coming end of the monarch

“Since then Comrade Bongo has been under continuous surveillance,” said CPS International Secretary Pius Vilakati. Dispatch of the Peoples. Nevertheless, even under surveillance, “he had continued his work as a community organizer in Msunduza and played an important role in organizing the Sunset Rallies there”.

To signal to communities that monarchy rule over Swaziland, which the king has arbitrarily renamed Eswatini, is coming to an end, the CPS began organizing what it calls Sunset Rallies in March. Shortly after, Nkambule was abducted by the police.

Over the next four months, Vilakati said, these gatherings became almost a weekly occurrence. Marches were held in the townships of Msunduza, Maphala in Mbabane and KaKhoza in Manzini, Swaziland’s commercial hub. For the moment, these gatherings remain relatively modest, each time mobilizing around a hundred members of the community.

Nevertheless, Mswati, who had briefly fled his kingdom amid an unprecedented pro-democracy uprising across the country in the middle of last year, seems shaken by this growing willingness of local residents to raise the red flag and call for its overthrow. Slogans “Mswati must fall!” and “Democracy Now!” which were enacted by the PSC years ago, have become a mass cry in the country.

Msunduza township came under heavy police scrutiny after residents held three sunset rallies here. Most residents are informal workers who travel to the capital daily in search of work. During Wednesday’s raid, police also broke into the homes of several other community members, saying they were looking for weapons. As in several other raids in the recent past, no weapons were found, Vilakati observed.

“While police claimed to be searching for guns and grenades, apparently intended for use in an impending armed revolution against Africa’s last absolute monarchy, the real reason for the raid was to instill fear among community members and victimize political activists,” the CPS said in a statement.

However, the rallies not only continued despite these raids, unlawful arrests and torture, but also became increasingly assertive in the nature of publicly delivered speeches.

Community safety tips to defend against police ‘invasion’

Addressing a Sunset Rally on June 26 in KaKhoza township in the country’s commercial hub town of Manzini, CPS national organizer Simphiwe Dlamini called for the formation of community-based “safety councils”. This advice, he said, should inspire “intense fear” in police “every time they think about invading communities. The minority regime should no longer be allowed to rule over us. We are the majority.

Talk to Dispatch of the Peoples over the phone on Friday, June 15, while on his way to another Sunset Rally in Macambeni township, about 45 kilometers from the capital, on the outskirts of the town of Piggs Peak in the Hhohho region, Dlamini explained “What is happening in the country today is that the police never respond to distress calls from people facing crime or violence. The only task they undertake in the country is to attack the pro-democracy movement and the communities in which this movement is rooted.

“The police,” he added, “are no longer a force from which people can expect any security. They have to defend themselves. Thus, the cadres of the Communist Party, the vanguard of the masses in struggle, work in the communities to unite them and organize themselves to form Security Councils.

A key task of these Councils, he explained, will be to ensure that “at least one person from each family is at the forefront of the revolution. Because when the police invade communities, they mainly target a few households whose members have gone to the front lines. Now is the time for every household to respond by sending at least one member to the front lines to overwhelm the police with numbers.

Cops? Whistle!!!

The other important task is to organize an alarm and response system. A proposal on how to implement this received a very positive response from the communities, Dlamini explained: “The Security Council should ensure that all members of the community wear whistles. The first person to see armed police approaching the community will trigger an alarm by whistling and everyone who hears it will follow with their own whistles, and it will go on and on.

This concert of whistles, he explained, should in itself have a deterrent effect “because the community tells the police before they even arrive that we know you are coming, and we are ready. The police are afraid of it. This is why in all recent raids, they have avoided detection until the last moment and taken the households they were targeting by surprise. We shouldn’t make life easy for them anymore.

What if the police proceeded, undeterred by the whistles? Then the dozens of heavily armed and armored men won’t find themselves confronting a single woman with a baby, demanding to see the warrant with an angry fist as she is dragged to be tortured into custody.

“In each raid, the police will then have to fight members of all households in the community, organized and ready to defend themselves and to fight against police brutality,” he said, convinced that such preparation is already a groundswell among the masses. . “The task now is organization,” he said.

“A basis for building democracy after the overthrow of the king”

Along with safety advice, the CPS is also at work in communities to organize wellness advice, Dlamini explained. The monarchy, he argues, has all but left people to fend for themselves in a country where up to 70% of the population earns a living on less than a dollar a day.

With most of the economy owned by the King and run to support his indulgences – palaces, private jets, a fleet of Rolls Royce cars, million dollar parties, etc. – his government is even unable to pay the salaries of its civil servants. Little can be expected of the government by rural dwellers.

“The only way forward is for communities to organize themselves for their needs for education, housing, health, food and all the basic needs that the government cannot meet,” he said. By undertaking these tasks of ensuring their own safety and well-being through grassroots organizing, Dlamini argues, rural communities can decide how to govern themselves and totally challenge the authority of chiefs, who are the representatives king’s premises.

“When we overthrow Mswati, these community councils will provide the foundation to build a bottom-up democracy in Swaziland.”