Mbabane: Political activist Mphandlana Shongwe said he fought long and hard for the recognition of the elderly citizens in the country and hence he is also looking forward to the E500 monthly elderly grants distributed by the social welfare department of the Deputy Prime Minister’s office.
Shongwe will be turning 60 on September 27 this year.
Shongwe said he hopes that by the time he qualifies for the monthly grant it would have doubled, because from his view what the elderly are getting is next to nothing. He said when he spearheaded the fight for the recognition of the elderly people of this country some years back he did it knowing that one day he, too, would want to be a beneficiary.
He jestingly said that he prays for the speeding up of his 60th birthday so that soon after he has celebrated it he will take the elderly to the streets in protest against the meagre payments. “I will take it easy with them knowing that they are aging and not as militant as I am,” said the political activist.
Shongwe said there is no statute supporting the distribution of the elderly grants and therefore they were nothing but a gift from higher authorities. He said it made it difficult for the elderly or anyone else to protest against the grants because they were not based on any law. “This is due to the fact that Eswatini’s administration is controlled not from rule of law but cultural structures,” said Shongwe. He said not even parliament can bring about change because it is an extension of culture which operates on command.
I have seen more sadness than joy
Political activist Mphandlana Shongwe said his life has been marred by decades of state harassment due to his desire for a free Eswatini. Shongwe is PUDEMO’s Second Secretary General and a founding member of the proscribed entity
Shongwe said while awaiting trial at the Maximum Prison in 1990 in Matsapha he started counting the many setbacks he had experienced like being expelled from college, denied a living by the government due to his activism, arrested many times for what he called “trivial offences” such as shouting “VIVA PUDEMO” and wearing a PUDEMO t-shirt. He has also been held in solitary confinement, beaten up and tortured by the police on several occasions. The political activist said he has had a life of struggle for justice and democracy that none of his relatives understood.
Shongwe said his initiation as an Umbutfo was misinterpreted by many within the progressive enclave of the country and deemed as a turn-coat mentality. However, Shongwe said his agenda towards his initiation was to infiltrate the cultural structure so that he could have not only the logical knowledge of the traditional structures but experiential. He said one cannot fight against something one does not fully understand, adding that knowing and experiencing are realities that are far apart each other.