Sep 21, 2021

SADC Peace-seeking Mission Not Inclusive, Says eSwatini Opposition Parties

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Africa’s last standing absolute monarchy has been on a knife-edge in recent weeks with 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: The king made his first public address since the violent protests started last month.

eSwatini political parties excluded from participating in the talks recently undertaken by the Southern African Development Community [SADC] Troika fact-finding mission have warned that its conclusions ‘will miss very critical considerations on major issues’.

A SADC fact-finding mission arrived in eSwatini last Thursday. The week-long technical fact-finding mission is the fulfilment of a promise from an earlier visit of the ministerial delegation from the SADC Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security, which visited the country on 4 July.

However, the People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), one of the three parties shut out of the talks, said the mission may not have received an accurate representation of the situation.

Africa’s last standing absolute monarchy has been on a knife-edge in recent weeks with protests. People in eSwatini claimed King Mswati III’s regime was using threats and intimidation, particularly in the rural areas, to cow people back into subservience. 

“It has come to our attention that some political parties such as the Pudemo. Communist Party of Swaziland and the Swaziland People’s Liberation Movement, among others, were not invited to meet with the distinguished SADC Organ Troika Technical Team.

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

“We understand that in particular, the Pudemo has been singled out on the basis that the government alleges that the Pudemo is a proscribed entity under the suppression of Terrorism Act,” Pudemo spokesperson Brian Sangweni said.

The pro-democracy group added that they did not receive an official position from the Troika team on the precise grounds of their exclusion. 
The mission last week coincided with a national dialogue, known as a Sibaya, called by King Mswati III for 16 July. Civil society groups boycotted the Sibaya.

The King made his first public address since the violent protests started last month. He announced former pension fund boss Cleopas Dlamini as the new Prime Minister. He replaces Ambrose Dlamini, who died in December 2020 due to Covid-19 complications.

King Mswati III said he hoped ‘‘that he has found a man that will stabilise and restore the country’s economy’’. 

Lucky Lukhele, the spokesperson for the Swaziland Solidarity Networks, said that the citizens of eSwatini have long ‘‘rejected the appointment of the prime minister as they now demand the unbanning of all political parties’’.

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