What the Eswatini Acting Prime Minister’s Statement ignored

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Themba Nhlanganiso Masuku

Calm has been restored in the African Kingdom of Eswatini. This calm is met with resistance. It will take a lot of work to bring citizens groups and government on the same page, but some initial progress has been made.

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  1. The activing Prime Minister for the Kingdom of Eswatini addressed citizens in response to the SADC Troika meeting on July 4
  2. A Citizens wishlist was not yet addressed in the PM’s statement but it’s an initial opening of an urgently needed dialogue between citizens groups and the Eswatini Government
  3. PM warns of another increased threat to Eswatini: COVID-19

The Southern African Development Community went to the Kingdom of Eswatini to bring both the Government and private citizens groups together to allow a civilized discussion to resolve differences and stability to the country.

With the mobilization of the military calm was restored, and public servants will go back to work starting Tuesday. The acting PM in an address to the people encourages everyone to get back to work and to be aware of the spreading COVID-19 threat.

The Eswatini government told the SADC that guns smuggled from South Africa are being used to kill its citizens. The guns, the government allegedly said, came from EFF in South Africa & were given to its sister organization, the EFF of Swaziland.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EEF) is a South African left-wing to a far-left pan-Africanist political party. It was founded by expelled former African National Congress Youth League President Julius Malema, and his allies, in 2013.

According to two independent eTurboNews sources, insurgents dressed in the uniforms of Eswatini soldiers were seen confronting Eswatini stakeholders resulting in damages, injuries, and death.

Activists and citizens say the government stopped the delivery of petitions calling for democratic reforms, particularly for the election of a prime minister not appointed by the king.

In an interview with Audrey Brown of the BBC’s Focus on Africa, Sikhanyiso Dlamini, the king’s daughter and minister of information and technology, said the delivery of petitions was stopped because of a looming third wave of Covid-19 and that a virtual submission process was introduced instead. ” I am saying that foreign mercenaries have invaded the kingdom, hired by these people [those who are calling for democratic reforms] with these agendas …  [They are] carrying out the most heinous of attacks and they set up roadblocks and they’re dressed in police uniforms and army uniforms, infiltrating the citizens and sending videos of themselves attacking innocent citizens. The order of shoot to kill did not come from the king if there is any such order.”

In the meantime, social media posts and articles in the Swaziland News overwhelmingly show posts by Eswatini citizens demand democratic reforms.

On Sunday 4 July 2021, two New Frame journalists, Magnificent Mndebele and Cebelihle Mbuyisa, who were on assignment in eSwatini were detained, assaulted, and tortured by security forces, according to tweets by the publication.

The New Frame journalists were in eSwatini to report on the pro-democracy protests with a specific focus on the state murder of citizens. While in the country, they were stopped at roadblocks on a number of occasions, threatened, and forced to delete material from their phones and cameras.

A wishlist by the 20 most important stakeholders, organizations, private institutions in Eswatini, related through the SADC delegation to the Government was not yet addressed in a speech by the acting prime minister earlier today, July 5.

There was no direct word yet by the Head of State, the King of Eswatini, Mswati III.

This is the statement by the acting Prime Minister of the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini

Asivusele Bekunene. 

Our collective resolve as a Nation is to never lose sight of the over-arching objective of uplifting the lives of all emaSwati and remains unmovable and unhindered. 

Despite the events of the past week which were marked by violence, arson, and looting on an unprecedented scale we stand united in our call for sustained peace and stability. 

We were happy yesterday to receive the SADC Troika organ who was on a fact-finding mission at our invitation. This SADC fact-finding mission will continue in due course as we share the common regional objective of ensuring sustainable peace and stability in our region. I plead with the Nation to stay calm and patient while the process is ongoing. 

As citizens of this country and region, we all share the responsibility to never engage in any activity that negates the strides we have made to improve the lives of people, no matter how different our standpoint may be at any particular time. 

The unacceptable damage to Government and private property perpetrated by looters is now well into billions of Emalangeni, causing a major setback to the country’s socio-economic growth and stability. The current estimate reveals that the cost of damage stands at about E3 billion, with 5 000 jobs lost and counting. Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) were also not spared by these looters, as approximately 1 000 small businesses were affected. 

This comes at a time when our country and the world is engaging broad strategies to ignite job creation and spur our economies on a path of sustainable growth. 3 

The unprecedented violence also hit hard on our health sector as, among others, six health vehicles, including ambulances, were vandalised; some of which were brand new. 

These include specialized COVID-19 vehicles for the contact tracing program and transporting COVID-19 samples in the Shiselweni region. The Nhlangano Regional Health Offices were gutted. Another ambulance was attacked in the Lubombo region placing the lives of patients on board at risk. This is over and above over 10 Tinkhundla centers that were vandalized by these looters and rioters. 

This unfortunate situation has affected our COVID-19 response in many ways, but we remain determined and unfazed in our quest to provide health services to all emaSwati. We are unyielding in our quest to be of efficient service to the Nation. 

Government is happy to note that the situation on the ground has stabilized over the past few days, as our security forces have resolutely ensured the maintenance of peace and order across the four regions of the country. Our security forces will continue to be vigilant in ensuring the safety of the public, businesses and other property. 

We, therefore, encourage all emaSwati to continue driving our economy by returning to work and opening all businesses that were unaffected. This should, however, be done in full compliance with COVID-19 regulations. The curfew remains from 6 pm to 5 am and offices should continue to close at 3:30 pm to allow workers to arrive home safely in time for the curfew. 

COVID-19 update 

At this point, I wish to remind emaSwati that we are still facing a frightening situation, that of COVID-19, which has continued unabated over the past few days. We continue to experience an increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the country from 96 cases between 13-19 June, 207 cases during the week of 20-26 June, and 242 during the week 27 June to 3 July 2021. 5 

The general trajectory of new cases shows a persistent upward trend with the testing positivity having increased from 3% to 9% as of yesterday. Three COVID-19 related deaths were reported during the past week after reporting one case during the previous week. 

While bed occupancy rate in our isolation facilities is still at a low 9%, the rise in figures is a clear indication that the country is in the early stages of the third wave. The projections indicate that there will be a continued increase in new cases for the next 4 to 6 weeks before a peak is reached. We are aware that a rise in new cases leads to an increase in the number of deaths within a lag of two weeks. 

Once again, I appeal to all emaSwati to remain vigilant and abide fully to the COVID-19 Regulations and health protocols. In the meantime, Government continues to source more COVID-19 vaccines for emaSwati to intensify our vaccination exercise. 

Over the weekend, we received an additional 12 000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. These doses 6 

will enable us to continue to give a second dose to our health workers as we move to the next stages of the vaccination exercise. The Ministry of Health will offer the necessary vaccine updates. 

As we get more information on the spread of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus in neighboring countries, may we alert the Nation of an increased chance that this virus is circulating in the country due to the movement of people from one country to another? In this regard, we request the Nation to continue adhering to the COVID-19 Regulations established by the Government as a measure to mitigate the impact of the pandemic to the population. 

1. Wear your face mask and cover your nose and mouth; 
2. Wash your hands or sanitize frequently; 
3. Avoid crowds and confined spaces with little ventilation or air circulation; 

Let us keep ourselves safe from COVID-19 and also protect our health care workers.

Despite the major setback caused to our health system by the recent looting, we will not stop helping emaSwati win this war against the pandemic. We will do everything in our power to reach out to people. 

Reopening of Home Affairs service centers 

On another note, we would like to assure the Nation that all Home Affairs Service Centres countrywide will be in operation from tomorrow, with the exception of Manzini, Hluthi, Hlatsi, and Siphofaneni. 

Company registration and vehicle licenses renewal 

Government is also aware that the renewal of vehicle registration licenses and company registrations were disrupted during the recent unrest. We therefore notify the Nation that the renewal of vehicle licenses has been extended to 20 July 2021. Company registration renewals have been extended to 31 August 2021. 


The government would like to assure all emaSwati, the international community, diplomatic partners, and residents of Eswatini that we will do everything necessary to ensure public safety as life returns to normal. 

May I discourage the public from panic buying and give the assurance that we are making all moves to ensure there is enough supply in our shops at all times. 

We continue to rely on all emaSwati to do the right thing and fiercely guard against any foreign elements meant to destabilize our country and threaten our harmony. 

We have one country and it is up to all of us to protect it and preserve what we have been known for over centuries – and that is our peace and stability. 

Thank you. 


Acting Prime Minister 

5 July 2021 

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