Jump to navigation

A king–size crisis

Brutal army crackdowns against pro-democracy protests have prompted concerns among Eswatini's neighbours, with the Southern African Development Community sending a team of 16 ministers to the country on 5 July.

South Africa has called for 'total restraint' by the security services and President Cyril Ramaphosa's ruling African National Congress issued a strong rebuke, with head of international relations, Lindiwe Zulu, stating that 'the use of security forces to quell political dissent and the failure to address legitimate civilian concerns complicates the conflict and adds fuel to the fire.'

The government in Mbabane denies reports that King Mswati III has fled to South Africa, which surrounds Eswatini.

Over 30 protestors have been killed, local sources told Africa Confidential, after the king, Africa's last absolute monarch, deployed the army. Prime Minister Themba Masuku's initial attempts to deny that deaths had resulted were abandoned. Masuku, appointed by the King, then insisted that the protesters had descended into 'criminality', arguing they had looted and damaged property. Videos posted on social media appear to show soldiers firing at and assaulting demonstrators.

Political parties have been banned since 1973, and the protests have focused on public petitions, which had called for an elected prime minister. The government banned public petitions in the country, referred to as Africa's 'failed feudal state' last month (AC Vol 54 No 20, 'Failed feudal state'). 



Related Articles

'Failed feudal state'

The widely discredited 20 September election saw pro-royal politicians take nearly all 55 parliamentary seats. Traditional chiefs loyal to King Mswati III had vetted all the candid...


Democracy's a luxury

The economy is failing and running out of food as King Mswati buys a $500,000 limousine

Swaziland has become synonymous with royal extravagance, in an absolute monarchy whose sovereigns have long resisted local and international pressure for democracy. The ruling clas...


Mswati mobilises

Dislodging King Mswati III and his followers from their present monopoly of power is proving to be long and difficult. The Constitutional Review Commission, appointed in August 199...


Facing sanctions

Momentum is building in Europe for sanctions over human rights abuses in Swaziland. European Union member states voted on 21 May for a resolution urging their leaders to reconsider...


Militants and monarchs

Two troubled kingdoms have embroiled South Africa in some messy power-broking

Pretoria’s African National Congress government finally lost its diplomatic virginity with the deployment of 600 South African soldiers in the early hours of 22 September to put do...