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King Mswati faces more political pressure to democratise as protests spread to the rural areas

Saturday, 19th June, 2021

MBABANE: King Mswati faces more pressure to democratise as political temperatures continue to rise in this tiny Kingdom with protests spreading rapidly to the rural areas where the King's government has been claiming to have a stronghold.

Eswatini is situated in Southern Africa and ruled by Mswati as an absolute Monarch with Executive, Judicial and Legislative powers, the country has about 70% of its population living below the poverty line and the World Food Program(WFP) reported that about 350 000 citizens being a third of the population were urgently in need of food aid.

On Saturday, residents within the various Constituencies across the country marched to Tinkhundla Centres being the offices of Members of Parliament(MP) to deliver petitions in demand for democratic reforms and social services.

Residents of Sithobelweni under the Mamba clan in the Lubombo region situated in the eastern parts of eSwatini demanded an elected Prime Minister and multi-party democracy, they blamed their plight and lack of development in the area to the current political system. 

“Government is complaining about a huge wage bill when there are people who are earning salaries by virtue of being royalty, some are even holding about 5 government posts. The House of Senate in Parliament is dominated by people who are supposed to be pensioners, they are now earning salaries that can pay 10 civil servants.  We demand that Senators and all Members of Parliament should be elected by the people, instead of this nepotism. Lastly, we urge our Honourable MP to join the three MPs who are calling for democracy in Parliament”, said one of the residents.

Addressing the throngs of residents who had come to deliver the petition, MP Bhekitje Dlamini said he would forward some of the grievances to the relevant Ministries but declined to commit himself into calling for democratic reforms in Parliament.

“I will work on your petition, some of your grievances will be attended at Chifedom and Inkhundla level and some will be forwarded to the relevant Ministries for a proper response. Let’s not talk about Magawugawu he is not your MP but he is my friend. I believe the most important part is to amend the constitution, so that your lives can change”, he said.

Other Constituencies whose residents marched in demand for democratic reforms include Mafutseni, Zombodze Emuva, Lomahasha and Ntfonjeni among others, more protests are expected next week.

Eswatini Government Spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini did not respond when asked to share a comment regarding the ongoing protest across the country, Dlamini is also a Spokesperson for King Mswati. 

Meanwhile, police allegedly fired live ammunitions during a protest at Kukhanyeni Constituency on Saturday, this was during a protest in demand for democratic reforms and social services. 

Eswatini is not democratic, political parties are banned from participating in elections, the King appoints the Prime Minister, Ministers, a majority of Senators, Judges and all members of the various Governing Councils.

King Mswati faces more political pressure to democratise as protests spread to the rural areas
Protesters at Sithobelweni