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Checkmate

image Checkmate

I thought long and hard about not writing this week. This thing is tiring. It is stressful. I have had very little sleep all week. I am anxious. I am agitated. I am emotionally drained.

I paid Bheki Makhubu a visit this past week at Sidwashini where he has been accommodated for the past three weeks, charged with contempt of court and denied bail. To see him emotionally drained got to me. To see him worried over what was happening really made me fear a lot of things.

And this was before the judicial service commission issued its own statement, after which I struggled to make sense of things and events in this country. It is nice to hear people talk about how the media in this country is not free, shackled by self-censorship; but it is another thing to see it written in black and white that the media should not exercise its duty to inform the public and help public discourse.

It is not nice to realise that things are not as they seem, and that there are basically very few people who care about the state of this country.

System

So, I thought long and hard; what to do. I mean really, as most people who have called me to offer their piece of advice too, is it worth it? But the problem with this question is, is what worth it? Can we all turn our backs on our country? Can we all give up fighting for what is right, for the sake of our beautiful country?

Can we all give up on what the king wants for this country—just when the going gets tough? Should we expect Bheki Makhubu, a fierce defender of the system, king and country, to come out of his lodge and stop being the person he was before then, and give up?

I know this is a senseless ideology to many, but when we say that we have only one Swaziland, what exactly do we mean; that we have one Swaziland when it is all good? Many of us never think of leaving this country, no matter the difficult times, and are always hopeful that things will change, that this country will get better.

I am trying of course to make sense of the events around us, of the emotional torment we go through every day, of the pain of seeing this country being taken back to archaic times while we sit there being helpless. 

At the height of the contempt of court charges against our colleague, Bheki Makhubu is the country’s fight for the eligibility to the AGOA status, which offers us benefits for our textile industry, which in turn hires our brothers and sisters.

To think that events in court will have a bearing on that status is frightening, if what the Americans have been saying. But, it doesn’t look like anyone cares—and should the inevitable happens, what of Swaziland? 

Anyway, in the midst of all that, I took interest in the judgment that everyone was talking about, excitedly.

Statement

I sensed that people talked about it as though it was the solution. I asked myself why overnight and couldn’t make sense of it. The case against the chief justice in Lesotho can’t really hold the key to our problems this side, I thought. I still remember very vividly the prime minister’s tone and expression the day he told editors that this country is proud of its chief justice.

It was a statement made with pride of course. And it has since been repeated several times when editors have questioned certain things about the chief justice.

Somehow, I doubt this country has enough energy to pursue the chief justice, no matter the problems reported, like they have done in Lesotho, which is why I have decided against not writing today.

Honestly, I felt I didn’t have the energy to write this weekend, and spent the entire Friday night searching for a way to make my statement without having to resort to a blank page.

I needed to find a way. But I couldn’t, and I felt very demotivated.

But then something struck me about the judgment in the Lesotho Appeal case; the case against the chief justice in that country is not just a case against the prime minister, or some political wrangle. Suddenly it dawned on me that the chief justice is fighting against—not just the prime minister of that country—but their king.

It is King Letsie III who appointed a tribunal to probe whether he should be removed from his position as president of the Lesotho Court of Appeal for inability or misbehaviour.  And in his response, the CJ feels he is being treated unfairly by the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and therefore opposes the tribunals.

That to me is the crux of the matter. The king, acting on the advice of the prime minister, appoints a high powered tribunal to probe the President of the Court of Appeal who then fights them tooth and nail.

Allegations

And, among the allegations levelled against the chief justice are those pertaining to his position in the country as head of the judiciary, which he will now have to answer in Lesotho. The allegations are serious of course, and the chief justice deserves the forum or platform to clear his name.

Yet, the body language in Swaziland is that our leadership ‘iyatichenya ngaMakhulu Baas’. It is for that reason that one thinks it is premature to start doing the jig thinking the end is nigh for the chief justice. If anything, whatever happens in Lesotho will surely not have a bearing on Michael Ramodibedi’s situation in Swaziland—except to cement his position as head of the judiciary and to sing his praises. I will not say whether that will be good or bad, but I do know that it is on itself telling, that while the chief justice is being accused of very serious offences in his homeland, there is not even wind blowing in his direction in Swaziland; despite that some of those offenses touch on the very job in Swaziland.

But then again, kukaNgwane la, and stranger things have been known to happen.  For now though, the rest of us will do well to toe the line, and hold our breath and mourn in silence for our beautiful kingdom.

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