Pro-democracy protests have once again flared up in eSwatini. Photo: Twitter/@EswatiniGovern1
Pro-democracy protests have once again flared up in eSwatini. Photo: Twitter/@EswatiniGovern1

Pro-democracy protests flare up in eSwatini, UN calls for peace

By Chad Williams Time of article published Oct 15, 2021

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Cape Town – Pro-democracy protests have once again flared up in the Kingdom of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland).

The recent unrest comes after a wave of unprecedented violent pro-democracy protests rolled across the country in June.

Police shot a protester dead on Wednesday, the latest casualty in months of demonstrations that have left more than a dozen people dead, local media reported.

Authorities have once again restricted the country’s internet services, leaving most social media applications down.

The army has been deployed across the country to quell tensions.

BBC News Africa reported on Friday that the country’s transport workers have joined the protests in parts of eSwatini.

Students have been protesting for at least two weeks, calling for free education and the release of two lawmakers who were jailed during pro-democracy demonstrations earlier this year.

Students around the country at both university and high school level have been organising walkouts and continuing to call for a transition to democratic governance.

According to the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, during a press conference held at Sibane Hotel the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Phila Buthelezi, stated that high school students who were implicated in the protests would be denied scholarships by the government.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said on Friday that the people of Swaziland were fed up with King Mswati III and the numerous international bodies which continue to treat him with kid gloves and allow him to massacre his own citizens.

“If young people in Swaziland have seen the error of ’normalcy’ and continuing to be miseducated in Mswati’s dilapidated and visionless education system, then they are a generation of very bright students which their parents should be proud to be raising.”

The SSN said Mswati loathes the public school system so much that he has never sent even one of his children to be educated through it. It is an education system which remains funded by developmental partners, while the king purchases jets, luxury cars and palaces with the very taxes he siphons out of the nation, the SSN said.

The SSN said the situation in the country had reached boiling point.

“There is nothing that will turn things back to normal now.

“The path to political liberation for all Swazis is paved with great sacrifice. All Swazi citizens should be very clear that what they seek cannot be gained by empty promises of engagement by world bodies which have stood by while King Mswati did as he pleases.”

The network further said that the people of Swaziland will only gain their own government by paralysing the current one and rendering the country a failed state. It is either that or the country becomes a war zone.

“No government can survive without the people’s co-operation. To ask Swazis to live ’peacefully’ under this government is to ask them consent to their own oppression. Swazis should come together and formulate a strategy for liberation which will include all members of the Mass Democratic Movement.

“If this strategy requires that public transport workers, civil servants, students and newborn sacrifice their occupations for the immediate to medium term, then so be it.”

On Thursday, the UN resident co-ordinator in eSwatini called upon all stakeholders to exercise utmost restraint and restore an environment that is conducive for an Emaswati-owned dialogue, according to Swaziland News.co.za.

“The United Nations in eSwatini is particularly concerned by the latest developments in the country, with the involvement of the youth and schoolchildren, and public transport workers, in the protests.”

“The United Nations in eSwatini has noted with concern scenes of children taking to the streets to air grievances of various nature, the burning of schools and school equipment in different parts of the Kingdom of eSwatini, the violent reaction of some elements of the country’s security forces that has resulted in, reportedly, arrests and injuries sustained by unarmed civilians, including children,” read the statement.

The UN promised to engage with the government and other stakeholders to support a peaceful resolution to current tensions.

Some roads leading to the capital, Mbabane, have been closed and there is a heavy police presence.

African News Agency (ANA)

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