MTN in eSwatini choosing side of the brutal regime - Numsa

MTN has confirmed that it's being taken to court by the Institute for Democracy and leadership, together with state owned eSwatini Mobile in to force it to restore Internet services.

eSwatini has seen a spate of pro-democracy protests, with demonstrators blocking roads in Manzini. Picture: @SwaziNews/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has on Tuesday condemned South African cellphone giant MTN for shutting down internet services in eSwatini.

Spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said Numsa was demanding that MTN restore internet services immediately, warning the companies actions were empowering a brutal crackdown against the kingdom's people.

Numsa also wants South Africa to review its relations with eSwatini because of its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and the media.

MTN has confirmed that it's being taken to court by the Institute for Democracy and Leadership, together with state owned eSwatini Mobile to force it to restore Internet services.

Hlubi-Majola said MTN should restore services: “By shutting down services, it means the state can continue to freely violate human rights, knowing that its actions will not be exposed. Under apartheid, there were private companies, which participated in propping up the apartheid state. History will judge MTN for the role it is playing in this historic moment in eSwatini. It’s choosing to side with a brutal regime against the just demand for democratic change for the masses.”

Numsa said it supported calls by the masses for a republic with full democratic rights and called on SADC, South Africa in particular, not only intervene but also review all its relations with eSwatini including trade relations, if the government of that kingdom did not stop relentless attacks on the people.

Meanwhile, the eSwatini government has encouraged those in the kingdom to return to work and open all unaffected businesses. There’s still anxiety amongst many locals about their safety.

Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku released a statement on Monday following his meeting with a delegation from SADC.

The damage following pro-democracy protests in the tiny kingdom is estimated to run well into the billions.

Masuku said the violence had affected eSwatini's COVID response with the number of those infected almost tripling in the last two weeks.

He said the curfew of 6 pm to 5 am was set to continue and offices must close at 3:30 pm to allow workers to arrive home safely and within COVID regulations.

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