Above: National Flag of Eswatini
04-07-2021: Another country, another covert regime change operation under the guise of a movement for “democracy”. This time, the target is the small African nation of Eswatini, with a population of 1.1 million. Eswatini (also written as “eSwatini”) was formerly the nation of Swaziland, before its name change in 2018. What was then Swaziland gained its independence from British colonialism in 1968, but it has remained a form of monarchy, with a king sitting above a parliamentary assembly. King Mswati III became the monarch in 1986, and is known for taking as many as 15 wives and living a lavish lifestyle. Despite Eswatini being one of the last monarchies still existing, workers cannot afford to extend an iota of political backing to the violent riots now besetting the country. These “protests” are in fact an exercise in deceit which ticks all the boxes of imperialist funded subversion.
Burn, loot and riot
By now it is a familiar refrain: in the name of social justice, first you must burn, loot and riot. Where have we seen this before? It first came to prominence in the hands of Black Lives Matter (BLM) during 2020 in the USA, but was previously employed in Chile, and subsequently in Colombia, Lebanon, Hong Kong and Nigeria, to name a few. Needless to say, a genuine movement which pursues noble political goals hardly resorts to burning down public buildings and private businesses, looting shops, and rioting as a first port of call. Something else entirely is going on – and the common thread is surreptitious orchestration by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF). The NED is the regime change arm of the CIA, and the OSF is the regime change vehicle of convicted financial felon billionaire and anti-socialist George Soros. The NED and the OSF work hand-in-glove to advance the foreign policy of Washington in its New Cold War drive, and Eswatini today is unfortunately no exception.
The NED funds multiple “civil society” fronts in Eswatini, or at least the ones they admit to. The OSF has a special body funding faux “democracy promotion” shells throughout 11 nations in Southern Africa, including Eswatini. The point should not have to be made that the US state department and George Soros are never and nowhere concerned about “bringing democracy” to Southern Africa, or anywhere else. What occurs is sophisticated internal political underwriting of the very institutions of the state which is being targeted for replacement, to the extent that they become agents which corrode and collapse the nation from within. This is carried out with utterly deceptive and disingenuous rhetoric about “democracy”, “good governance”, “human rights” and so on. Deceiving young people and many left and liberal organisations internationally, the NED/OSF transform the targeted state into an effective satellite of Washington. They can then be used as leverage in Washington’s New Cold War.
The domestic and international forces behind the “protests” underhandedly claim that the protests began peacefully on June 20 when youths took to the streets to demand the right to democratically elect the Prime Minister. They go on to claim that the violence only began after the government suspended the delivery of petitions. Whether or not this is true, a hallmark of NED/OSF backed regime change operations is the extremely rapid turn from peaceful to violent, and this is what occurred in Eswatini. Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku declared that the government suspended the delivery of petitions as this was being used as a “breeding ground for anarchy” which had been “intentionally hijacked to sow seeds of division”. It would appear the delivery of the petitions to the government was just the cover for the pre-planned violence which was to follow. If the government can spot an intentional hijack, there is no reason why leftists internationally cannot do the same.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) plays a similar role alongside the NED/OSF. Yet even it had to report the extraordinary behaviour of “protestors” in the capital Mbabane on June 29. People described as “youth activists” had blocked roads, set fires in the streets, ordered all shops to shut down, and told people to leave town. This is patently not the behaviour of well-meaning “activists” concerned about the fate of their country or their society. Ordering shops to close and people to leave town is a clear indicator that they are aware that violence will follow. These are not “activists” pursuing a political cause out of genuine motivations. Further, some government buildings as well as some trucks crossing the border from South Africa carrying goods were set alight. Obviously, preventing needed goods from South Africa (which is naturally Eswatini’s largest trading partner) from reaching consumers in Eswatini is not “activism”. And neither is setting fire to government buildings!
Liberals internationally are often drawn into the narrative of an “authoritarian” Third World government restricting access to the internet in response to protests, and recoil in horror. This is indeed what has occurred in Eswatini today, but when “protestors” are blocking goods from reaching the country, burning down government buildings, and telling people to leave town – is it any wonder? Brian Sangweni is the national spokesperson for PUDEMO (People’s United Democratic Movement), believed to be the largest of the opposition parties. On June 29 he confirmed that 30 000 workers had been turned away by “protestors” in the industrial area of Manzini. So not only are the “protestors” engaging in violent riots, they are telling people to leave town and are blocking thousands of workers from engaging in their paid work. The regime change aims here could not be clearer. The methods being used are little more than targeted acts of terrorism. This is scarcely a “democracy” movement.
CPS offers “left” cover
The role of the misnamed Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) is quite revealing. CPS General Secretary Thokozane Kunene claimed that King Mswati III had fled to Johannesburg in South Africa and was hiding out in the wealthy Sandton area. Yet this claim was immediately rubbished by Acting Prime Minister Masuku. Kunene later stated that the aim was to “suffocate the regime” and “match the violence (emphasis added) unleashed by the government on the people.” Such a peaceful movement for democracy! Yet the General Secretary was not finished there. He went on to make wild claims that the Eswatini military had tossed murdered protestors into a raging fire at the Swaziland Beverages Company in Matsapha. These claims are more than fanciful and are made with zero evidence. And these fires were started by the “democracy protestors” themselves!
The CPS plays into the fake “Covid” pandemic, which in reality is the class war of finance capital against the global working class. The CPS waffles on with typical liberal nonsense about how capitalism is not able to deal with the “Covid-19 pandemic”, but the countries with a “socialist orientation” such as “Cuba, North Korea, China and Vietnam” fared far better than countries such as the USA. With a few notable exceptions, almost all leftists identifying as Stalinist have capitulated to “their own” ruling classes on the fear pandemic. While genuflecting before the cops and security forces of the capitalist state for keeping us “safe from Covid”, they spread baloney about how the nationalist and bureaucratic castes of the deformed workers’ states have “done a good job fighting Covid”. What has occurred is that the conservative castes leading Cuba, North Korea, China, Vietnam (and Laos) have assisted the imperialist nations in its suppression of their own working classes, while submitting the working classes at home to a slightly less draconian version of lockdown, facemask and vaccine repression. This betrayal by Stalinists who control state power is equaled only by the parties of the lockdown left in the West, who have similarly assisted “their own” billionaire class.
The open class collaboration by the CPS is demonstrated by their most recent congress in April this year, which was carried out under the slogan “Decisive Mobilisation for Democracy Now”. In other words, the CPS become bare reformists who ally with classes completely alien to the workers in the name of “democracy”. In this situation, the call for “democracy” is simply a call for a new capitalist government, something that will certainly not benefit the workers of Eswatini – even if the entirety of US imperialism was hypothetically not involved. The CPS are also adherents of the so-called “National Democratic Revolution”, a Maoist formula which in the Philippines has meant more than 50 years of fruitless searches for a more liberal wing of the ruling class. Yet there can never be a “national democratic” anything, let alone revolution.
Democracy is class rule, and it cannot be applied across different classes. The struggle for socialism means a pitch effort to replace bourgeois democracy (the rule of capital) with proletarian democracy (the rule of labour). Especially in countries of belated capitalist development, Russian Revolutionary leader L Trotsky emphasised again and again that only the working class could solve the basic issues of democratic rights, and only through the seizure of state power. Paramount Bolshevik leader VI Lenin stressed again and again that liberal bourgeois forces can only play a counter-revolutionary role, and that was the case even 100 years ago! Nor can the petty-bourgeoisie – as an intermediate class – play an independent political role. It must be politically led by the proletariat, and principally by the proletarian vanguard. In Eswatini today, we find liberal bourgeois forces openly being allied with an imperialist funded regime change operation – alongside the “Communist” Party of Swaziland ! Here is a gem of an example of the fruits of “national democracy”.
False death counts
A hallmark of NED/OSF colour revolutions in recent times have been false claims that protestors have been “gunned down by the regime”. Eswatini today is no exception, and the CPS spouts this alongside PUDEMO, without a hint of irony. PUDEMO Secretary General Wandile Dludlu echoes the CPS General Secretary with the outlandish claim that the Eswatini military tossed murdered protestors into a fire. He goes on to state that these claims cannot be verified because the bodies have been burnt !! Can anyone imagine trying this even in a bourgeois court of law? Sorry, your honour, we cannot verify our claims as they went up in smoke! PUDEMO’s youth wing, the Swaziland Youth Council (Swayoco) also make the same unverifiable claim that 21 people have been killed by the security forces of Eswatini. Swayoco also make the provocative statement that “in honour of our fallen patriots [which don’t exist – WL] we will soldier on until democracy”. For their part, the government of Eswatini stated that there have been no deaths, and the country is being destablised by foreign forces. Under the circumstances it is rather ironic that it takes an absolute monarchy to state some facts.
Skeptics may question why imperialism would make an effort to organise regime change in Eswatini, when it is perhaps the only African country not to sign up for the Belt and Road Initiative headed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). A precondition for serious assistance from the PRC is the non-recognition of the so-called “Republic of China” or Taiwan. Eswatini has chosen to remain loyal to a recognition of Taiwan, as Taiwan was one of the first countries to recognise the independence of the then Swaziland in 1968. So, for now, this rules out PRC assistance to Eswatini, which means foregoing the opportunity of vital infrastructure, trade and development. One would imagine that Washington would welcome a partner which recognises Taiwan rather than Beijing – but not in this case.
Even if your government is overtly pro-US, it still does not protect you from US backed regime change. Why? Washington is trapped in a death spiral. The US economy (and that of the West generally) cannot compete with the sheer economic power of the socialistic PRC, so it is unable to offer anything in the ballpark of the Belt and Road Initiative. To prevent countries from allying with the PRC – or even thinking about doing so – Washington subcontracts internal subversion to the NED, the OSF and the “regime change industrial complex.” Regime change is then rolled out under the entirely fabricated guise of “democracy” and “human rights”. For countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, the only permanent way to repel imperialist meddling is to break with global capitalism via the construction of a workers’ state headed by a workers’ government. Key to this task is the forging of internationally linked Marxist vanguard parties, as part of the drive towards a socialist order.
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