MBABANE: Eswatini had rare peaceful demonstrations on Friday after weeks of shooting and killing of citizens by King Mswati’s security forces during pro-democracy protests.
Eswatini, a tiny Kingdom situated in Southern Africa and ruled by King Mswati as an absolute Monarch has about 70% of the population living below the poverty line, more citizens including the elderly are now joining the growing calls for democratic reforms.
King Mswati has been reported to the International Criminal Court(ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity after his security forces shot and killed civilians, opposition parties and the civil society alleged that over 100 were killed and 200 were treated for gunshots wounds. However, so far over 70 citizens have been identified and confirmed death and the Foundation for Social and Economic Justice(FSEJ), one of the organizations that compiles the data has appealed to members of the public to report to them all relatives who lost their lives during the civil unrest.
It has been reported that as a result of the engagements between the King and the diplomats, the security forces did not use violence against the peaceful protesters. The names of the diplomatic sources cannot be revealed for ethical reasons as they are currently engaging the King privately for now.
Reached for comments, Mduduzi Gina, the Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland(TUCOSWA) confirmed that no protester was shot on Friday when they were delivering a petition to Parliament.
“We can confirm that there were no confrontations or any shooting by the police directed to the protesters when we marched to Parliament on Friday. Even minimum force was not used against us” , said the TUCOSWA Secretary General.
It has been disclosed that in the midst of the behind the scenes engagements between the King and the diplomats, on the 5th August 2021, Princess Tsandzile wrote a letter to the TUCOSWA approving the protest march to Parliament to deliver a petition, the King through the then Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku had earlier banned gatherings and the delivery of petitions, he subsequently unleashed security forces to shoot and kill protesters.
“That procession will be from the assembly point to the delivery place, nowhere else.Lastly, you are further requested that this gathering should be respectful and peaceful”, reads the letter from the Hhohho Regional Administrator.
It has been disclosed that various countries through their diplomats have started putting pressure on the King to engage those calling for democratic reforms in a dialogue, this publication is in possession of electronic evidence suggesting that Mswati had ordered the arrest of three pro-democracy MPs triggering more tension.
Questions were sent to Government Spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini, however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
On Friday, residents of Hosea and Ngwempisi marched to their nearest police stations demanding the release of their arrested MPs in Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube, they were charged with terrorism as per King Mswati’s order, for demanding democratic reforms. But organisers of these protests confirmed to this Swaziland News that no one was shot and the protests were peaceful.
“It was a very peaceful march and we are happy that the elderly joined us. The elderly joined us today to send a message that they are tired of living in abject poverty with their unemployed children who are graduates. They are also demanding the release of MP Bacede who is their voice. We would like to thank the police for ensuring that the march remained peaceful”, said Norman Xaba, one of the organizers of the protests.
A rare peaceful protest in eSwatini.