Pro-democracy groups in Africa’s last standing monarchy eSwatini say they want to strip King Mswati III who has ruled the southern African kingdom since 1986, of his powers that determine who occupies the post of prime minister while influencing appointments to parliament.
Activists in the southern African kingdom on Thursday took to the streets to speak out against Mswati’s leadership and called for the immediate release of all political prisoners who have echoed their calls for democratic reforms.
Lioness Sibande, a representative of the United eSwatini Diaspora alleges that security forces have on numerous times been used by the king to prevent locals from speaking out, an allegation vehemently denied by authorities who say its forces do not shoot peaceful protestors but maintains the right to defend themselves against “violent agitators.”
“I would love to thank the police, the junior officers, who have chosen to be on the side of the Swazis by defying orders from the king to shoot the protestors who have always been unarmed,” said Sibande.
Sibande also says several activists have been imprisoned without trial and are experiencing human rights violations.
“They’ve been denied going to hospital when they are sick,” said Sibande, adding, “We all know the charges that’ve been created by King Mswati against them, it’s all lies.”
Political analysts say King Mswati’s administration has been rocked by protests for over a year and demands for reforms, the immediate release of political prisoners have intensified.
Attempts by the international community to bring stability to eSwatini have continued for over a year and have witnessed visits by envoys led by several African leaders.
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa visited King Mswati in November 2021 where he expressed worry over the reported human rights violations and called for dialogue between government and other stakeholders.
“I’m extremely worried about the situation there,” said Ramaphosa, adding, “We want to see peace in eSwatini and would like to see a dialogue beginning between government and various organizations.”
Human rights groups say nothing has materialized from attempts by the international community to bring about peace in the southern African kingdom.