Calls mount for SADC to intervene in eSwatini amid pro-democracy protests

Organisations based in South Africa as well as the government have also reacted to the crisis in the kingdom.

eSwatini soldiers and police officers are seen on the streets near the Oshoek Border Post between eSwatini and South Africa on 1 July 2021. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - There are growing calls for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to intervene in the situation in eSwatini where pro-democracy protests continue.

Organisations based in South Africa as well as the government have also reacted to the crisis in the kingdom.

Citizens are defying a curfew imposed by the eSwatini government and say they won’t stop protesting until King Mswati III stepped down and made way for democratic leadership.

The country has seen days of looting, violent protests and heavily armed law enforcement going door to door in residential areas.

eSwatini is a landlocked country, bordered by South Africa and Mozambique, and any kind of instability would concerns its neighbours.

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With unconfirmed reports of more lives being lost during ongoing protests, South Africa’s International Relations Department is calling on security forces to protect lives and property.

Spokesperson Clayson Monyela said: “We are particularly concerned by reports of loss of life and destruction of properties. The right to peaceful protests is universally recognised.”

Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters claims its president in eSwatini, Nombulelo Motsa, was kidnapped by soldiers after her house was placed under surveillance.

The party has encouraged people on the Mozambican and South African boarders to intensify demonstrations, calling for reform and an end to absolute monarchy.

South African Federation of Trade Union’s Trevor Shaku said they supported this: “The hypocritical liberal government leadership and other international bodies have turned against these human rights abuses.”

At the same time, the African National Congress has called for reform and political engagement to see a democratic eSwatini.

UK CALLS FOR PEACE

The UK undersecretary of state and minister for Africa James Duddridge said he was following developments in eSwatini closely as protests continue to rage in the kingdom.

Duddridge took to social media platform Twitter earlier to say the right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech was vital in any society.

This comes a day after the UK’s foreign office updated its travel advisory to include eSwatini.

On Wednesday night, the United Kingdom foreign office warned its citizens that there were reports of shootings, blocking of main roads, burning vehicles and buildings, looting and violence mainly targeted at government and commercial establishments and cargo vehicles.

It said travellers should avoid areas where protests, demonstrations, or marches were taking place, especially in large towns and cities.

It also advised its citizens to stay at home where possible and stay alert for signs of disturbances.

Meanwhile, Duddridge said the escalation in violence, including looting, was deeply concerning.

He called on all parties to engage constructively and restore calm.

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