A Southern African Development Community delegation was on July 22 winding down its second mission to eSwatini in a month, amidst hopes that stakeholders were edging towards resolution of political differences that led to deadly clashes three weeks ago.
The country erupted in violent protests as anti-monarchy groups demanded political reforms in Africa’s last absolute monarchy. More than 70 people died in the clashes between protestors and security agencies.
The SADC Organ Troika – bringing together the SADC leadership and that of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation – subsequently dispatched a ministerial fact-finding mission to eSwatini. Organ Chair President Mokgweetsi Masisi then sent a technical fact finding mission as a follow-up from July 15 to July 22.
Over the past week, the technical mission met various stakeholders and undertook site visits as part of the region’s efforts to unpack the problems facing eSwatini and to facilitate peaceful resolution of differences.
Among other things, protestors want political parties to be unbanned and to have the right to elect their leaders, including a prime minister.
Representing the Swaziland Multi-Stakeholder Forum, Ms Mary Pais Da Silva told the media this week that their meeting with the SADC delegation on July 19 was a success.
“And their questions directed us to talk about political and security in the country and the causes of the disturbances that we have seen over the past few weeks. So what we discussed was the historical context of the political system in the country coming from 1973 and the 2005 constitution that does not allow political participation,” she said.
On July 19, King Mswati III hosted a national dialogue and invited all citizens to air their grievances. Opposition groups snubbed the invitation and instead called for more protests.
Member of Parliament Mr Mduduzi Simelane told South African media that although he and others were unhappy with the manner in which the prime minister was appointed, they expected King Mswati’s latest appointee, Cleopas Dlamini, to put the needs of the citizens first.“I would urge our people and say let’s give him a benefit of the doubt. It is up to him to decide; either he wants to go to the books of history as the trendsetter of our country, as one of the people who brought change. Or he would opt to be among those who suffocated and killed our people.” – SABC/Agencies