The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) joins the entire working class of the world to observe International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day remains as important today as it was when it was first organised in 1909 by the Socialist Party of America, officially marked a public holiday in the Soviet Union soon after the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution and recognised by the United Nations in 1975.
All these events followed a solution by the First International Conference of Socialist Women, held in Sturtgart in 1907. The Conference resolved to declare 8 March the International Day of Working Women, and to mark it every year as the day of international solidarity among the female proletariat in their struggle for equal economic and political rights.
The CPS pays tribute to the many women revolutionaries who have waged the struggle for freedom in Swaziland. So many of these women, largely unknown and unacknowledged, have resolutely rejected the tinkhundla system and made huge sacrifices in the struggle for freedom for all.
Swaziland’s tinkhundla regime continues to be a hotbed of patriarchy. Inherently patriarchal, the regime continues to oppress women, violating its own constitution, while at one and the same time deceiving the world of its seriousness to uplift women. As such, in this context, working class and rural women are the worst victims of tinkhundla rule.
Tinkhundla’s unapologetic patriarchal approach manifested itself markedly during the sham tinkhundla elections in 2018. While the CPS has made clear calls for the rejection of tinkhundla elections, the Mswati regime’s suppression of women every time these elections take place cannot escape condemnation.
In a clear attempt to disempower as many women as possible during the 2018 tinkhundla elections, women candidates were made to kneel when presenting their election manifestos while their male counterparts could easily make theirs while standing. The rhetoric that the regime was serious about the rights of women was easily discredited by these acts of suppression.
Every tinkhundla elections period results in the killing of women and children for ritual purposes. Some people in Swaziland still hold on to the regime’s misguided belief that women’s private parts bring about success, whether in business or any endeavour such as elections. In this fierce competition for positions in the money train known as parliament, women and children become the most immediate victims. It has become clear to many people of Swaziland that if the tinkhundla system is allowed to prevail a day longer then the ritual murder of women and children will not stop.
The violence that women continue to endure must be condemned. Studies continue to show that, in Swaziland, one in three girls experience sexual violence before they reach the age of 18. The regime normalised early and forced marriage, including marital rape. This culture of violence against women manifested itself when Mswati’s parliament took about ten years to pass the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill, partly because the regime was against clauses in the Bill which banned incest, unlawful stalking, abduction and flashing.
Patriarchy must be tackled head-on wherever and whenever it manifests itself, not least in the respective institutions of the tinkhundla system and places of employment. As the people of Swaziland wage their struggle for freedom, it is also important that they fight this scourge within their own ranks. The struggle for freedom from tinkhundla rule is also a struggle against patriarchy in general. All formations within the progressive camp must deepen the struggle for the eradication of all backward tendencies, including patent and latent acts of women suppression within these formations. Male chauvinism must find no sympathy within the progressive movement!
The CPS calls upon all working class and rural women to unite and wage a relentless struggle against the tinkhundla regime, for freedom, democracy and socialism. The current tinkhundla system is incapable of offering a concrete route towards the total emancipation of women. These struggles must lead to the maximum mass defiance of the regime in the maximum number of sites.
Only with the end of the oppression and exploitation of one by one another will there be true freedom for all, women included. Under the current concrete conditions of Swaziland, the first phase must necessarily involve the struggle to overthrow the absolute monarch and building a people’s democratic republic through which the foundations of socialism will be built.
Issued by the Communist Party of Swaziland
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