King Mswati III of Swaziland (now Eswatini) at the closing ceremony of the 37th Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo by GULSHAN KHAN/AFP via Getty Images.

Protests in the kingdom of Eswatini which first started back in May 2021 – and in which scores of citizens have died – have continued into 2022, creating increased domestic pressure to address longstanding demands for democratic reforms.

But critics are sceptical that the announced ‘sibaya’ – a process by which citizens’ views are collated by traditional leaders before a national gathering at the king’s own ‘kraal’ – will be a genuine platform for discussion, and instead see it as just a means for the monarch to reassert authority.

Although the primacy of domestic stakeholders in national political processes must be sacrosanct, given the context in Eswatini of a polarized political landscape and a significant trust deficit, the international community must play an important role in supporting a constructive and meaningful process.…  Seguir leyendo »

A barricade in the road that is on fire is seen in Mbabane, Eswatini, on 29 June 2021. Demonstrations escalated radically in Eswatini this week as protesters took to the streets demanding immediate political reforms. Photo: AFP via Getty Images.

Mounting pressures for democratic reform in eSwatini have led to the arrest of two pro-democracy MPs on suppression of terrorism charges and a brutal crackdown by security forces which have left dozens dead. Hopes for an ‘emaSwati spring’ are unlikely to be realized as the country now faces a protracted stalemate between its young urban population and an entrenched absolute monarchy.

Protests began in May following the death of 25-year-old law student Thabani Nkomanye, allegedly at hands of the police. The violence further intensified after the then acting prime minister, Themba Masuku, banned citizens from submitting petitions to MPs calling for reform.…  Seguir leyendo »

Throughout July Swaziland's King Mswati III – one of the world's last absolute monarchs – intensified his assault on independent media and opposition under the guise of combating terrorism. Using the prevention of terrorism act, King Mswati III has branded all opposition parties and labour unions terrorist groups, following a series of bombings of police offices and residences. Police raided the homes of leaders of the opposition, trade unions and civil society groups as part of King Mswati's counter-terrorism strategy. There are no known active domestic terrorist groups or issues likely to foment terrorism in Swaziland. Nor are international terrorists likely to harbour intent to target the country.…  Seguir leyendo »