By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |
Zimbabwe’s main opposition MDC Alliance has urged the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to intervene in Eswatini and end the crackdown on the dissent perpetrated by supporters of King Mswati III whose authority is hanging by a thread.
King Mswati III is believed to have fled Eswatini for South Africa, amid protests for democracy throughout the country.
However, the location of King Mswati III of Eswatini remains unclear, as his government denies that the king has left the country adding he “continues to lead in working with the government to advance the Kingdom’s goals.”
The ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations started in May following the death of law student Thabani Nkomonye allegedly at the hands of the police with protesters demanding democratic reforms and accusing the king of repression.
The Eswatini Royal Family responded to the protests by deploying heavily armed police officers and the army resulting in the death of at least 50 people, 1000 wounded and 500 arrested, detained and denied bail.
Addressing journalists in Harare on Thursday, MDC Alliance Secretary for International Relations Gladys Hlatywayo condemned the suppression of pro-democracy activists in Eswatini.
“We are concerned by the escalating crisis in Swaziland. We unreservedly condemn the heavy-handedness of the Royal Eswatini police and its defence force who are indiscriminately firing live ammunition on defenseless civilians in the wake of demonstrations against Africa’s last absolute monarch.
“The use of such disproportionate force has resulted in at least 50 people dead and an estimated 1000 civilians being wounded and more than 500 people, mostly young people randomly arrested, arbitrarily detained and denied bail,” she said.
She added that her party appealed to the Eswatini government to respect its domestic and international obligations for the respect of human rights and the rule of law.
“Human rights abuses against defenceless citizens must stop. The military must return to the barracks and an independent investigation into the atrocities must be done to ensure accountability. An absolute monarch has no place in the 21st century,” Hlatywayo further said.
MDC Alliance recommended that there be an inclusive political dialogue, unbanning of political parties, a transitional authority, a new democratic constitution and multi-party dispensation anchored on free and fair election
“We submit that an inclusive dialogue underwritten by SADC and the African Union remains the only plausible peaceful path to resolve the current crisis,” she said.
Zanu PF Director of Information Tafadzwa Mugwadi said his party would not intervene in the internal affairs of Eswatini but he condemned the killing of civilians by the Eswatini Royal security forces.
Meanwhile, in Mazini, the country’s largest city, there have been reports of protesters barricading roads and setting fires at businesses owned or linked to the royal family.
The government of Eswatini on Tuesday responded by imposing a dusk-to-dawn curfew. The military and police were also deployed, which resulted in violent clashes between authorities and protesters. Nehanda Radio