Jul 27, 2021

Anti-monarchy Protests In the African Kingdom Of eSwatini Turn Violent

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Government forces in the southern African kingdom of eSwatini fired gunshots and tear gas on Tuesday to break up protests.

FILE PHOTO: King Mswati III, centre, has ruled the country since 1986 is now facing pro-democracy protests. PICTURE: Getty Images

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MBABANE: King Mswati III was crowned at Ingwenyama on 25 April 1986 at the age of 18.

The Kingdom of Eswatini, King Mswati III also referred has been reported to have allegedly fled to South Africa amid the ongoing pro-democracy protests in his home country.

It has not yet been confirmed as to what the protests are about, although it is reported that the people of Eswatini are grumbling and protesting against the monarchy laws and the economic downturn of the country.

Various media reports have indicated that the king had been in some resort in Swaziland for about two weeks before fleeing to South Africa. A report denied by Mr Themba Masuke where media reports and residents claimed that King Mswati III had fled the violence to neighbouring South Africa.

King Mswati III was crowned at Ingwenyama on 25 April 1986 at the age of 18, thus becoming the youngest ruling monarch in the world at that time. Mswati’s early years of ruling were autocratic and ubiquitous with corruption.

Government forces in the southern African kingdom of eSwatini fired gunshots and tear gas on Tuesday to break up protests calling for reforms to its system of absolute monarchy, witnesses said.

FILE PHOTO: Economic Freedom Fighters Swaziland is now calling on their people to ‘maintain this energy’. PICTURE: EFF eSwatini / Twitter

A dusk-till-dawn curfew was also imposed on Tuesday by the acting prime minister.

“His Majesty…is in the country and continues to advance the Kingdom’s goals,” Mr Masuku said in a statement. “We appeal for calm, restraint and peace.”

Anger against Mswati has been brewing for years now. Pro-democracy organisations and leaders allege that the king has consistently evaded calls for meaningful reforms that would nudge eSwatini, which changed its name from Swaziland in 2018, in the direction of democracy.

They also accuse him of using public coffers as a piggy bank, funding a lavish lifestyle off the backs of his 1.5 million subjects, most of them subsistence farmers.

Security forces set up road blocks to prevent access by some vehicles to the capital, Mbabane, on Tuesday. Some banks said they had shut until the unrest – which started on the weekend and turned violent overnight – subsides.

Mr Masuku said a curfew had been imposed from 6 p.m. until 5 a.m., and that schools had been ordered closed. This was to curb “violence in several parts of the country perpetuated by an unruly crowd,” he said.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the pro-democracy grouping Swaziland Solidarity Network, Mr Lucky Lukhele told media that “The military is on the streets,”

“Yesterday was the worst night ever, where a young man was shot point-blank by the army, and some are in hospital as we speak,” Mr Lukhele said.

At least 250 demonstrators have been injured with gunshot wounds, broken bones and shock, Mr Wandile Dludlu, who leads the People’s United Democratic Movement party, told AFP

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