1 May 2014

Swaziland: Schoolbook Reveals Royal Family Rift

The Swaziland Government, which decides what can and cannot be taught in schools, has approved a history syllabus and book documenting the early history of PUDEMO, an organisation now banned in the kingdom as 'terrorists', and the power struggle inside the Royal Family that won King Mswati III the throne.

The Times Sunday, part of Swaziland's only independent group of newspapers, said the book called 'Swaziland in Focus' was 'explosive'.

According to the Times, the book 'chronicles how the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) was formed at the height of deadly infighting within the royal family'.

This was during the 1980s when supporters of Mswati III, the present King and sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, won a power struggle to win the throne.

The book, aimed at pupils in forms four and five, was previously banned from Swazi schools.

The Times reported the reason the book was originally banned, 'was mainly that the book's narration on PUDEMO was not relevant to the history of Swaziland, especially because the party was a banned entity'. It had been declared a terrorist organisation in 2008, following the enactment of the controversial Suppression of Terrorism Act.

The book details how after the death of King Sobhuza II in 1982 there was a long power struggle for his succession, which was won by the present king, Mswati III in 1986.

Today, many supporters of King Mswati claim that he was chosen by God. In fact, he was chosen by a political group plotting within the ruling elite who expected him to give them favours once he took the throne.

Percy Simelane, the Swazi Government spokesperson, told the Times he had read the book but had found 'inaccuracies', which the newspaper reported he said would need to be 'reviewed'.

Timothy Velabo Mtetwa, the Ludzidzini Governor, who is known as the 'traditional prime minister', and is generally considered to have more power in Swaziland than the nominal PM, Barnabas Dlamini, told the newspaper, 'I cannot give my opinion on the events that are documented there but we trust that if government has approved it, then it is okay.'


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