Pretoria – The South African government said on Thursday it had noted with great concern the ongoing political and security crisis in neighbouring eSwatini, insisting that citizens’ rights to peaceful protest should not be curtailed.
“We are particularly concerned by reports of loss of life and destruction of properties. The right to peaceful protest is universally recognised,” the department of international relations and cooperation’s (Dirco) spokesman Clayson Monyela said in a statement.
“The South African government calls on the security forces to exercise total restraint and protect the lives and property of the people, in keeping with the country’s constitutional provisions and laws. In addition, South Africa urges all political actors and civil society to engage in meaningful dialogue in order to resolve the current political challenges facing the country.”
On Wednesday, the Swaziland Youth Congress (Swayoco) said at least 21 people had been allegedly killed by eSwatini's security forces during pro-democracy protests. The internet has reportedly been shut down and a curfew imposed, although there are reports of some protesters defying it.
The protests started peacefully in the Manzini region of Africa’s last absolute monarchy on June 20 when young people took to the streets in a push for the right to democratically elect the prime minister, currently appointed by King Mswati III. They have however since turned violent.
"We were off-line due to an internet shutdown. We have 21 confirmed cases of Swazi patriots killed by the state security. In honour of our fallen patriots we will soldier on until democracy,” youth movement Swayoco said on its social media platform.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s civil rights movement #NotInMyName called on Pretoria to condemn what it called the “barbaric actions” of the eSwatini regime.
“Furthermore the embassy of eSwatini must be closed with immediate effect. We cannot sit still and watch emaSwati die. The struggle is no longer theirs alone. The monarch must stop eating his own,” #NotInMyName secretary general Themba Masango said.
He said transparency and good governance were fundamentals which must be respected in every nation, particularly on the disposition of state funds and revenue, as well as the decisions taken by those in power.
“However, 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 the monarch to accept 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.”
African News Agency (ANA)