Swaziland: Ex-Govt Minister in Hiding After Calling On Absolute Monarch to Hand Over Power

Swaziland flag among curios for sale.

A former government minister in Swaziland (eSwatini) is in hiding from police after he publicly called on absolute monarch King Mswati III to hand over power to the people.

Musa Nkambule, former Minister of Tourism and now Chairman of the party known as Sive Siyinqaba (Sibanje Sinje), fled from his home, the Swaziland News, an online newspaper reported.

The News said, 'Sive Siyinqaba is a [conservative] political party dominated by powerful members of the royal family who are collectively working towards forcing King Mswati to hand over power to the people and transform the country into multi-party democracy.'

In an interview with the newspaper Nkambule said police wanted to arrest him for a statement he released on behalf of his political party. Nkambule appealed to the international community to protect him.

The News reported Nkambule said 'a battalion of police officers' from Manzini and Mafutseni arrived at his home at Mafutseni on Sunday (24 November 2019).

He said, 'They then heavily assaulted my wife who was refusing to give them the house keys. When I asked them their mission, they said it was in connection with the statement I released on behalf of Sibanje Sinje, but they failed to produce an arrest warrant. They camped in my home and left around 8pm and that was when I managed to escape. I am now in hiding while consulting with the other members on the way forward.'

Later, in the early hours of Tuesday police raided Nkambule's home and detained his wife, Zama Nkambule. They confiscated items including a laptop and political documents of Sive Siyinqaba.

Zama Nkambule told the Swaziland News, 'They [police] said they were looking for my husband in relation to his political statement he made on an online platform. They produced a search warrant.'

She was taken to the police station, questioned and detained for an hour.

She said, 'They said they had been sent by the State to take my husband to the police station.'

She added, 'The conduct of the police is a clear indication that freedom of speech is not allowed in the country. Many Swazis are not happy with the way this country is governed and they have expressed that, sadly my husband had become the target.'

In its statement Sive Siyinqaba had criticised the King for his recent actions, including the purchase of a fleet of 15 luxury Rolls-Royce cars for himself and his wives which were estimated to have cost US$6 million and the purchase of a fleet of 126 BMW cars and motorbikes for 'escort duties'.

It said some aggrieved members of the royal family were holding meetings with the intention of advising the King to hand over power to the people before the situation got worse.

The statement read in part, 'Sive Siyinqaba holds the view that someone [King Mswati] is on a suicide mission; unfortunately, he wants to sink with the whole country. We think it is time we say, we would rather remain afloat than to sink with you. High volumes of hundreds of millions in foreign exchange have been siphoned from the country to be spent in countries that need them less, in the form of competitive royal trips that we witnessed this year.'

It also said, 'Rolls Royces and BMWs, expensive as they are, are a tip of the iceberg. More than half of the armed forces, police and correctional services are stationed as royal guards in every royal residence where the national flag fly. There are more police officers providing security to the first family and serving as escorts to each of the wives and children, than there are stationed in the country's police stations, combined.'.

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