Swaziland Solidarity Network slams Ramaphosa's meeting with King Mswati III

Pro-democracy movements have called for an inclusive and open dialogue, with months of protests having rocked Africa’s last absolute monarch.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa meets King Mswati III on 3 March 2019. Picture: @CyrilRamaphosa/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - The Swaziland Solidarity Network has criticized President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to eSwatini.

The body demanded Ramaphosa to explain why he met with King Mswati III.

Pro-democracy movements have called for an inclusive and open dialogue, with months of protests having rocked Africa’s last absolute monarch.

According to reports, a high school was set on fire and an unknown number of civilians were wounded in the capital city, Mbabane, in October. At least 28 people have died this year as police clashed with protesters in some of the worst unrest in the southern African country's history.

King Mswati III has ruled the landlocked nation since 1986 and owns shares in all of the country's telecoms. He is often criticised for living a lavish lifestyle in one of the world's poorest countries and is also accused of stifling political parties.

On Wednesday, the Swaziland Solidarity Network said as much as they welcomed the visit by Ramaphosa, they were disappointed by the statement that was released by his office. The group's spokesperson Lucky Lukhele said the statement made no mention of whether the unbanning of political parties was discussed or the important issue of media freedom.

"We reject this thing as it comes, unless President Ramaphosa clarifies it further for us in the region. The first thing is to unban political parties, allow all exiles to come back in the country unconditionally and release all political prisoners."

In a statement, the office of the Presidency said Ramaphosa had called on all parties to work together to end violence and restore calm.