Ramaphosa’s meeting with King Mswati sparks SADC political debates.



BY : ZWELI MARTIN DLAMINI

MBABANE: The recent meeting between South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and King Mswati has sparked political debates not only within the tiny Kingdom,but across the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Percy Simelane, the eSwatini government Spokesperson said he was not surprised that some political activists alleged that the SA President was here for democracy talks with the King. The African National Congress (ANC) adopted a resolution to facilitate democratic reforms in the Kingdom of eSwatini; however, the ruling party has been accused by members of the progressive movements of being soft on government. But Simelane said there was absolutely no reason to speculate why the President was in the country as the office of the President in Pretoria issued a statement in that regard.

“ The purpose of the visit by the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is fully covered in this statement. We are not surprised the local progressives propaganda machines have cooked such stories around Mr Ramaphosa’s working visit” he said. Speaking to this Swaziland News, McDonald Chipenzi, the Executive Director of the Governance Elections, Advocacy, and Research Service (GEARS) in Zambia said SADC should be helpful to the Kingdom by genuinely engaging with the Monarch on democracy talks. Chipenzi said eSwatini can learn a lot from the United Kingdom (UK) where a Monarch exists, but democracy is embraced.

“SADC should be helpful to the Kingdom by genuinely engaging with the royal establishment. We can also learn from the UK which is also a Monarch but democracy is embraced” he said.

But Lucky Lukhele, the Spokesperson of the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SNN) said the visit was influenced by the current financial challenges in the country adding that South Africa was seeking to provide a bailout to the Kingdom. Lukhele, in a statement, alleged that King Mswati and President Ramaphosa secretly signed an agreement for a bailout; however, no documentary evidence was provided the SSN to substantiate the claims.

“The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) has been reliably informed by highly placed sources within South Africa and Swaziland government that the President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa has agreed to bailout the Swaziland government from its-made financial crisis. This handout is said to be more than the R2.4billion that King Mswati had requested from the South African government in 2011. This secret agreement is believed to have been signed during President Ramaphosa’s so called “working visit” to Swaziland last weekend and later celebrated by both leaders at the Buganu (Marula) Festival in Hlane Royal Residence” said the SNN Spokesperson.

But the office of the President in a statement said Ramaphosa was on a working visit for discussions with King Mswati.

“South Africa and eSwatini have cordial bilateral relations which are informed by cultural affinities, geographical proximity and historical ties dating back to the struggle against colonialism and apartheid in South Africa” said the SA Government in a statement.