News / South Africa / Politics

Brian Sokutu
Senior Print Journalist
2 minute read
26 Oct 2021
6:50 am

Uneasy calm as King Mswati goes into seclusion

Brian Sokutu

There has been an uneasy calm in eSwatini, following after police opened fire on pro democracy protesters, killing at least seven people.

King Mswati III head of state of Eswatini.(Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

As the embattled eSwatini King Mswati III has gone into a ritual seclusion and is thereafter expected to invite his subjects to a sibaya (kraal) meeting, the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) on Monday called on the Swazis not to confuse a traditional ceremony with an all-inclusive process of dialogue to resolve the current political strife in the country.

There has been an uneasy calm in eSwatini, following last week’s incident in which police opened fire on pro democracy protesters, killing at least seven people.

SSN spokesperson Lucky Lukhele said the people of eSwatini have expressed “disappointment and anger at [the king’s] continued refusal to commit to a dialogue to resolve political issues”.

Said Lukhele: “Using the only platform available to them, social media, the people have rejected the propaganda peddled by the royal Swazi media, which is attempting to hoodwink them into believing that the king’s annual itinerary of traditional rituals is a sign of commitment to a dialogue.

AALSO READ: After African mediation, Eswatini king calls for calm

“The king’s incwala ceremony [ritual of kingship in eSwatini] and his sibaya meeting, have nothing to do with the state’s commitment to a dialogue.

“The first sign of commitment by the state should be removing obstacles towards true dialogue.

“That means creating an environment which is conducive to freedom of expression.” The SSN reiterated preconditions by the People’s United Democratic Movement, which included the:

  • unbanning of political formations and the lifting of media restrictions;
  • freedom for political organisations to call gatherings without police harassment; and
  • unconditional release of political prisoners and the return of exiled Swazis.

“True political dialogue is not a three-day event basking in the sun, while sitting on cow dung, censored by the king’s emissaries.

“Dialogue is a process which requires political will from the very top of the country’s ruling structure … creating an environment where all political players will feel free to express their vision for the country.

ALSO READ: Eswatini unrest: Writing on the wall for King Mswati III

“By failing to create it, King Mswati has once again scoffed at the efforts by the Southern Africa Development Community to broker a lasting solution to the crisis in the country.

“The SSN wishes to urge all Swazis to continue to disrupt the country and render it ungovernable, until the king concedes to their demands,” said Lukhele.

Meanwhile, the SSN is this week expected to meet protest leader Siphofaneni MP Mduduzi “Magawugawu” Simelane, who has sought sanctuary in SA.