MBABANE: Deputy Prime Minister Senator Themba Masuku has maintained silence as the shooting of civilians in the midst of the political unrest forced more Swazis into disability.
Eswatini, a tiny Kingdom situated in Southern African has about 70% of the population living below the poverty line, among these struggling citizens are women and children including people living with disabilities.
An independent investigation by this Swaziland News uncovered that despite the escalating number of people who were forced into disability by King Mswati’s security forces, government was struggling to provide reasonable grants to about two hundred thousand(200 000) citizens who were disabled before the unrest.
Reached for comments, Sipho Dlamini, the President of the Federation of Organizations of the Disabled in Eswatini (FODSWA) said as an organization, they were deeply concerned about the growing number of people who were being forced into disability by the government in the midst of the political unrest.
“Before the unrest, we had about two hundred thousand(200000) disabled people and the government was failing to provide grants and improve their lives. Now people are being shot intentionally and forced into wheelchairs, others in crutches, this means this government wants to see more disabled people in this country. As a organization, we condemn the ongoing shooting of citizens who are then dumped by the government”, said the President of the Disabled People Organization.
On or around February 2021, Neil Rijkernberg, the Minister of Finance announced that government would pay disabled people a grant of R280.00($18,00).
An independent research conducted by this publication uncovered that due to the ever increasing costs of commodities, this grant amount of R280.00 can only buy a 10 kilograms of rice, 3 kilograms sugar and other few items that can last for only a week for a disabled person with a family.
Furthermore, it has been disclosed that despite the enactment of the Disability Act by Parliament, government allegedly neglected people living with disabilities and delayed the appointment and or establishment of a Disability Council whose mandate in terms of the said Act was to operationalize some of the structures cited in the law.
Questions were sent to Deputy Prime Minister Senator Themba Masuku, however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
On or around 02 November 2021, this publication reported that Andile Mamba, a fourteen(14) year-old boy of Siphocosini was allegedly shot and forced into disability by Mswati’s police during the ongoing political unrest.
Speaking to this publication, Dumisani Mnisi, the Executive Director of Save the Children eSwatini said as an organization they were struggling to access the data and obtain the real figures of children who were forced into disability by the security forces.
“It is very difficult because the police are hiding that information. Even the Human Rights Commission was complaining that they had to visit the various hospitals to gather such information”, he said.
It has been disclosed that apart from the challenges faced by people living with disabilities, in the midst of the political unrest, schools might face challenges with the growing number of disabled children.
This was confirmed by Mbongwa Dlamini, the President of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers(SNAT) who mentioned that many schools and teachers in the country were not capacitated to handle the escalating number of disabled children.
“Even before the ongoing political unrest where even kids are being shot, schools and teachers were not capacitated to handle disabled children hence the escalating number of students in such condition will cause serious problems for the education system”, said the SNAT President.
Eswatini is in the midst of a political crisis after King Mswati unleashed soldiers and the police to shoot and kill dozens of civilians merely for demanding democratic reforms, the casualties include women and children.
Emmanuel Ndlangamandla is the Executive Director of the Coordinating Assembly of Non Government Organization(CANGO) and he told this Swaziland News that the current situation where citizens are shot, some forced into disability by the government’s security forces remains a matter of serious concern.
“Even if these people were shot during the unrest, they deserve to be taken care-of because they are human beings.We can’t allow a situation where people are shot , forced into disability with impunity”, said the CANGO Director.
More Swazis forced into disability by Mswati’s forces.