Malawi: Mwakasungula Urges Chakwera to Enhance Efforts in Addressing Political Crisis in Eswatini

23 October 2021

Local human rights and governance expert Undule Mwakasungula has joined other human rights and governance advocates in the region, continent and globally, who are calling regional blocs to enhance efforts to address political and governance crisis facing eSwatini.

The deadly political crisis has led to loss of innocent lives in the Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly know as Swaziland until 2018.

eSwatini remains an absolute monarchy ruled by King Mswati III, who has led the country since 1986. There are no legally recognized political parties in the country due to a ban by a 1973 decree.

The king exercises ultimate authority over all branches of the national government and effectively controls local governance through his influence over traditional chiefs.

Despite the adoption of the 2005 Constitution, which guarantees basic rights and the country's international human rights commitments, the government has not reviewed the decree or changed the law to allow the formation, registration, and participation of political parties in

elections.

But Mwakasungula, in a statement issued on Saturday, has appealed to Malawi President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera to use his chairpersonship position at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to initiate a genuine process of an inclusive engagement of all people of eSwatini for a political solution.

The renowned human rights activist emphasizes that the political crisis in eSwatini is deepening and affecting the entire SADC region.

"It is therefore important that President Dr Lazarus Chakwera must enhance efforts as Chairperson of SADC to address the political crisis in eSwatini. This is already taking into consideration efforts by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who currently chairs the

security organ of the SADC Organ on Defense, Politics and Security Cooperation in trying to engage with King Mswati III," reads the statement in part.

He adds, "It is important to emphasize that the political challenges facing eSwatini are a regional challenge and must be collectively be addressed by the leadership in the region to prevent the kingdom further degenerate into a failed state.

"Therefore, the SADC Chairperson must continue efforts to initiate a genuine process of an inclusive engagement of all people of eSwatini for a political solution. eSwatini problem is a political problem which needs a political solution."

Mwakasungula observes that the ongoing demonstrations for democratic reforms in eSwatini are unprecedented in terms of the widespread depth of popular resentment against the monarchy.

He says the sweeping sense of dissatisfaction has both mobilized and energized eSwatini's vast and normally conservative rural population.

"What is more, the kingdom's majority youth population, many of whom are unemployed, has been at the forefront of these demonstrations. Over the past month students at the university, high school and even grade school levels have been organizing walkouts and calling for a

transition to democratic governance.

"And just this week, a seven-year-old was among the scores of students arrested and shot at by the police during peaceful demonstrations. This gives a very ugly picture of the repression taking place in eSwatini.

"In the same manner King Mswati III must be called to stop using his draconian laws and powers against his people who are just demanding fundamental freedoms and multi-party democracy.

"The King must be reminded that violence against his people for the sake of holding onto power is outdated and a crime in this modern democratic era. He must know that those who use violence to govern will be held accountable now or later when the chickens come home to roast," stresses Mwakasungula.

He warns that the biggest threat to a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in eSwatini is the refusal of King Mswati to countenance political reforms and to engage in a comprehensive dialogue.

Mwakasungula emphasizes the need for the people of eSwatini to actively participate in their political lives as the country remains the only one in SADC that excludes political parties from

participation in elections and representation in elective state structures.

He says it is time to stand in solidarity with the people of eSwatini who are fighting for good governance and in all multi-party democracy.

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