In 2022, emaSwati hope their government heeds reports calling for holding the Kingdom of Eswatini to account for human rights violations, like the report commissioned by TUC Aid, the charitable arm of the Trades Union Congress in Great Britain.
The report, “Holding eSwatini to Account: Assessing the Country’s Compliance with the Commonwealth Charter,” published in 2021, was conducted in partnership with the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA ) and supported by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). It argues that the Commonwealth and the international community should hold the Kingdom, ruled by the still all-powerful King Mswati III, to account.
That human rights of the people of Eswatini must be respected, is universally accepted, except inside Eswatini — a country almost entirely bordered by South Africa.
Among the eleven Trade Unions demands, is that:
”Eswatini undertake a constitutional review in an all-inclusive and consultative process including civil society actors and political parties and establish a Law Reform Commission to embark on a law reform exercise and repeal the 1973 Decree and amend the constitution to allow political parties to contest national elections.”
The report shows core value by core value, how eSwatini citizens’ rights are being violated.
“Eswatini falls short including on democracy, human rights, freedom of expression Assembly.The brutal suppression of the right to association and assembly in eSwatini highlights the lack of tolerance and respect facing individuals, trade unions and civil society within the country.”
The assessment reveal that Trade Unions believe eSwatini should be suspended from the commonwealth if their demands are not met.
“Should these issues not be resolved, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) should suspend eSwatini from the membership of the Commonwealth”,the report states.
The problem is that in eSwatini there is a systematic undermining of the rule of law and judicial independence by the government, and a failure to root out corruption. Freedom of expression is severely curtailed, with the media firmly under the control of the King. Overall, the principles and values laid out in the Commonwealth Charter are not reflected in the lived experiences of the people of eSwatini.
Section 1 of the Commonwealth Charter shows that:
“We support the role of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to address promptly and effectively all instances of serious or persistent violations of Commonwealth values without any fear or favour.”
But the report found that eSwatini is failing to comply with its Commonwealth Charter commitments.
“The voices of eSwatini’s workers and civil society members are unequivocal: eSwatini is failing to comply with its Commonwealth Charter commitments,” the report found.
Trade unions protests were disrupted and protestors brutalized by both the police and military forces in 2021, with more than 70 fatalities. The principles and values of the Commonwealth Charters are not the daily lived experienced of emaSwati.
Democracy left unaddressed in the country means the concentration of power in the King will continue to leave the 1.2 million population in a undemocratic state in 2022.
As an Absolute Monarch, Mswati, 53, was crowned in April 1986—is entering his 36th year as a ruler, he is son to former King Sobhuza II.
A LOOK AHEAD AT 2022: Democratic deficit in Eswatini.