Eswatini People and Government ready to talk
- A Group of 20 broader stakeholders in the Kingdom of Eswatini issued a statement to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at its Troika Organ Mission to eSwatini.
- The Group of 20 included political parties, the church, labor, business, women’s groups, youth, students, civil society, and concerned citizens.
- The Sunday meeting on July 4, 2021 was to consider the current political and socio-economic upheavals in the Kingdom of Eswatini and in the context of the mission of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security (TROIKA).
While the Army took over Eswatini guaranteeing calm after peaceful protests turned violent with insurgents dressed in fake uniforms, and criminals looting businesses and killing shop owners, a group of 20 legitimate stakeholders of the Eswatini Society met with ministers visiting Eswatini for the Southern African Development Community.
A statement was issued saying:
We noted and accepted in principle the deployment of the SADC Team of Ministers by the Chairperson of the SADC TROIKA, Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi of the Republic of Botswana.
We would like to point out to the delegates and the international community that the current turmoil in the country, showing up as social and economic upheavals leading to violence and insecurity are a result of a longstanding political stalemate. The underlying problem is thus political in nature and requires a political solution that is beyond the ambit of the current constitutional framework or other local structure. Existing structures render futile any attempts to resolve it via constitutional means as they are severely constricted and unworkable.
The key demand of the people and political role-players in the country is and still remains that of a fully-fledged multiparty political dispensation as the ultimate act of restoring power back to the people as was the case prior to April 12, 1973.
We thus call upon the SADC delegates to impress upon the authorities and the SADC structures the need to facilitate the following to break the deadlock:
- An all-inclusive, and mediated political dialogue led by SADC and underwritten by the African Union, the Commonwealth, the United Nations and or other such body of similar stature as may be agreed by the parties. All parties to this political dialogue process should come to the table as equals, with no one party enjoying superior legal status.
- The total unbanning of political parties will be a critical pre-requisite to facilitating a conducive environment as the basis for an all-inclusive dialogue process. Towards this end, it is critical that the Head of State issues a statement to this effect, denounce violence and intimidation against proponents of multi-party democracy and remove all other impediments to plural politics such as removing the proscription on some entities under the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 as Amended (STA).
- Putting in place a transitional authority to oversee government and reform of institutions, laws and processes leading up to the first multiparty democratic elections. The transitional authority will be drawn from a multi-stakeholder platform representing the broad church that is eSwatini’s society and their primary task will be to level the playing field.
- An all-inclusive new democratic constitution based on the following pillars:
- Separation of powers
- A justiciable Bill of Rights
- Equality before the law
- Gender parity and youth participation
- Supremacy of the Constitution
- A future governance framework based on a multiparty political dispensation where political parties can contest power in a free, fair and credible election that satisfies international standards and norms. The victorious political parties should form government with full executive authority.
We believe that the above reflects the will of the people of eSwatini as expressed in numerous platforms and the recent petitions to their Members of Parliament. This will guarantee long-term peace and stability in the country and allow citizens to move forward with full enjoyment of the right to self-determination and other rights enshrined in international protocols.
We reaffirm our previous call for all workers to stay away from work until the army in its entirety is removed from the streets and the safety of workers is guaranteed by the government. We are also moving forward with the National Day of Prayer and mourning at all Tinkhundla Centres on 10 July 2021.
The following organizations and entities were represented in the meeting:
- Foundation for Socio-economic Justice (FSEJ)
- Federation of eSwatini Business Community (FESBC)
- Council of Swaziland Churches (CSC)
- Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA)
- Swaziland Democratic Nurses’ Union (SWADNU)
- Peoples’ United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)
- Swaziland Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM)
- Economic Freedom Fighters of Swaziland (EFF-Swaziland)
- Institute of Democracy and Leadership (IDEAL)
- Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly (SRWA)
- Swaziland Peoples’ Unemployed Movement (SUPMO)
- Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF)
- National Allied Public Sector Workers Union (NAPSAWU)
- Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS)
- Swaziland Alternative Policy Institute (SAPI)
- Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders (SCCL)
- One Billion Rising Campaign
- Federation of Swaziland Trade Unions (FESWATU)
- Oxfam South Africa
- Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).