Activists in Pretoria echo growing calls for eSwatini to democratise, respect human rights
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Pretoria – As pro-democracy calls mount in neighbouring eSwatini amid reported widespread crushing of dissent by the King Mswati III regime, a civil rights movement is now calling for protests at the eSwatini High Commission in Pretoria.
“We are calling on all forward-thinking Africans and Emaswati, in particular, to join us at the peaceful picket that will be held to highlight the human rights atrocities and violations that are being committed by the Monarch’s regime. The picket will be held under the theme ‘Let Freedom Reign’,” said #NotInMyName secretary-general Themba Masango said in a statement.
The picket has been scheduled for 10am at the eSwatini High Commission in Arcadia, Pretoria.
“We cannot sit still and watch Emaswati die. The struggle is no longer theirs alone. The Monarch must stop eating his own. Transparency and good governance are highlighted in the public’s fundamental right to comment on laws and regulations; on the disposition of state funds and revenue, as well as the decisions taken by those who are in power.”
Masango said the regime in eSwatini has reactivated its authoritarian systems to crush dissenting voices.
“Reports state that pro-democracy leaders and citizens are being arrested for demanding that the Monarch accepts democracy as the order of the day. The community lives in constant and persistent fear of prosecution with many arrests and abductions being made public,” said Masango.
“It is evident that the eSwatini regime is hell-bent on subverting civil liberties and constitution through thwarting and prosecuting dissenting voices.”
Pro-democracy groups in eSwatini have rejected the king’s invitation to a Sibaya.
A Sibaya is a national annual general meeting that can be convened at any time to present the views of the nation on pressing and controversial national issues, as a platform for meaningful dialogue, according to a report by the online news website Swaziland News.
In a public statement released shortly after King Mswati III announced that he would call a Sibaya to resolve the ongoing political crisis, the Multi Stakeholders Forum said they viewed his call as a ploy to mislead the SADC Troika into believing that eSwatini was a dialogue-driven nation.
The country has been engulfed by protests in almost all of its regions since June as citizens call for democratic civilian rule and an end to Mswati’s rule.
The latest flare-up has run for more than two weeks, spearheaded by students, civil servants and transport workers. eSwatini, previously Swaziland, is Africa's last absolute monarchy.
Deputy Prime Minister Themba Nhlanganiso Masuku said eSwatini’s constitution allowed for a change in the political landscape.