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Cape Town – Tensions continue to rise amid pro-democracy protests in eSwatini (previously Swaziland) – Africa’s last absolute monarchy.
King Mswati III is the king of eSwatini and head of the Swazi Royal household.
On April 25, 1986, at the age of 18, Mswati became the youngest ruling monarch in the world. He rules the nation alongside his mother, Ntfombi Tfwala, also known as the Queen Mother.
King Mswati’s lavish lifestyle and policies have seen him criticised both in eSwatini and abroad and have led to local protests.
Here’s what we know about the ongoing protests in eSwatini so far:
– June 20, 2021: Peaceful protests broke out in the Manzini region when the youth of the nation took to the streets, demanding the right to democratically elect a prime minister.
– Later that week, acting Prime Minister Themba N. Masuku issued an order suspending delivery of memorandums to Tinkhundla (administrative subdivisions) with immediate effect
– On Monday, June 28, social media platforms were flooded with photos and videos of burning shops. King Mswati’s children were seen in a video mocking the people who were demanding democracy in eSwatini.
– Businesses reportedly owned by the king were torched in Matsapha.
– By Monday night, media reports in the country claimed that King Mswati had fled to Johannesburg, South Africa, amid ongoing violent protests in the country.
– Swaziland News quoted a leader of the pro-democracy protests who said that government buildings and King Mswati’s properties were to be burned down the following day.
– By Tuesday, Masuku released a statement denying that King Mswati had fled the country.
– News reports claimed that the government had deployed the police and the army to shoot citizens in Matsapha and other areas.
– South Africa’s opposition political party the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) commended the people of eSwatini for the protests and called on the South African government to close the diplomatic offices of King Mswati in solidarity with the people of eSwatini.
– Masuku said it was the government’s decision to impose a strict curfew between 6pm and 5am to “minimise unnecessary movement and ensure the safety and security of residents”.
– Internet access was blocked.
– On Wednesday, the Swaziland Youth Congress (Swayoco) stated that at least 21 people had been killed during the protests, allegedly by state security forces.
– Images of a brewery partially owned by King Mswati going up in flames went viral. The torching of the brewery reportedly took place on Tuesday evening.
– On Thursday, July 1, the South African government noted its concerns about the political crisis in neighbouring eSwatini. It called on eSwatini’s security forces to exercise total restraint and to protect the lives and property of the people.
African News Agency (ANA)