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By Getrude Makhafola

Premium Journalist

Sona 2022: Protesters wave placards ahead of Ramaphosa’s speech

The protesters raised various issues such as unemployment, corruption and the anti-government demonstrations in Eswatini.

As MPs and guests strutted their stuff on the red carpet ahead of the State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday, groups of protesters held placards across the road, hoping to be heard.

The annual opening of parliament sees disgruntled individuals holding protests outside the venue, and this year’s Sona is not different.

Many complained about lack of housing, rampant crime and corruption and unemployment.

Vusi Shongwe said he represented the Eswatini People’s Liberation Movement, and with President Cyril Ramaphosa being the current chairperson of SADC, he was there protesting to highlight the plight of the Eswatini citizens.

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“As Cyril Ramaphosa presents his Sona, he must remember the matter of eSwatini. The last time he gave King Mswati three months [to draft terms for a national dialogue]…Mswati is still decimating citizens in a quite genocide.

“We ask Ramaphosa to take matter as forward in his Sona, and I am here to speak for 1.3 million eSwatini citizens who are yearning live in a democratic country.”

A series of demonstrations continued in Eswatini as citizens demand the fall of King Mswati to make way for a democratic change.

Violence engulfed Africa’s last absolute monarch as police meted violence against protesters during the unrest. Ramaphosa sent a team of envoys to Eswatini last year to facilitated a national dialogue in the country.

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Another protester, who identified himself as Jan Piers, said he was there with fellow veteran soldiers to demand they be paid for the work they did during last year’s riots.

They were recruited by the SANDF to work alongside soldiers in the streets of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng as looting and violence engulfed the two provinces, he said.

“We spoke to the generals, last year they said we would get paid and we will be called up. Later they said we all had criminal records, that’s why we were not paid.

“That is a lie… our generals do not care about us. We are here to call them to acknowledge us as veterans, we just want to be paid.”

The protesters stood behind a barricade, a distant away from the city hall.

Ramaphosa will deliver his Sona at 7pm.

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