eSwatini acting prime minister Themba Masuku, whose government is accused of shutting down the internet in a bid to crush the voices of pro-democracy protesters. File photo: Twitter/@EswatiniGovern1
eSwatini acting prime minister Themba Masuku, whose government is accused of shutting down the internet in a bid to crush the voices of pro-democracy protesters. File photo: Twitter/@EswatiniGovern1

Internet restored in eSwatini, says MTN

By Molaole Montsho Time of article published Jul 8, 2021

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RUSTENBURG - Access to social media platforms in eSwatini has been restored, mobile telecommunication company MTN said on Thursday.

"Please take note that as of this morning [Thursday] all social media platforms are accessible. We regret the inconvenience caused by the unavailability of these platforms," the company said in a statement posted on its social media platforms, signed by MTN eSwatini management.

Internet services were restricted last week, this was after the eSwatini Communication Commission issued a directives to MTN and other operators to suspend access to social media and online platforms.

MTN confirmed in a statement that subsidiary MTN eSwatini and other operators received a directive from the communication commission to suspend access to social media and online platforms until otherwise informed.

"After accessing the request, and in compliance with MTN's license conditions and in accordance with MTN's group wide digital human right due diligence framework, MTN eSwatini has implemented the directive," the company said.

The government allegedly shut down internet services to stop citizens from communicating with the outside world after pro-democracy protest turned violent and the army was allegedly unleashed to mow down civilians in a quest to crush the demonstration.

A wave of violent protest is sweeping through the Kingdom of eSwatini formerly Swaziland, a landlocked southern Africa country.

Pro-democracy protests started peacefully in Manzini region on June 20 when youth took to the streets in a push for the right to choose the prime minister, as opposed to the king making such appointments.

They also demanded King Mswati III to hand over power as the absolute monarch and allow democracy to prevail in the country.

The protests turned violent on June 28, when buildings were torched and shops looted in Matsapha. It was believed the torched businesses were owned or linked to King Mswati III.

This was after acting prime minister Themba Masuku suspended the delivery of petitions to Tinkhundla, (a traditional administrative subdivision) citing Covid-19 preventive measures regulations.

The protests left a trail of destruction, at least 10 Tinkhundla offices were torched and shops looted, and over 50 people were killed allegedly by the army.

Acting prime minister Themba Masuku said the damage caused was estimated at three billion Emalangeni (about US$209,930,000).

The US Embassy in eSwatini said the call for reforms were legitimate and genuine.

"The US embassy is engaging contacts at all levels of government and civil society, and we will continue to do so. The calls for reform are legitimate and genuine.

"The US embassy is distressed by the violence, fatalities, human rights violations, and intimidation of journalists that we are witnessing in eSwatini.

“ We call for all incidents to be fully and transparently investigated. All perpetrators, regardless of affiliation, must be held accountable according to rule of law," the embassy said in a statement on Thursday.

African News Agency

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