Pandor, SADC delegation arrive in eSwatini to discuss ongoing deadly protests

Minister of international relations Naledi Pandor.

Minister of international relations Naledi Pandor.

  • A delegation from SADC, including International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Naledi Pandor, met with the eSwatini government.
  • The eSwatini government said it would set up a team to work with the SADC team to investigate the protest action.
  • Activists criticised SADC’s position on the protests, calling for diplomatic isolation of eSwatini.

A delegation from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) met with the eSwatini government on Sunday, amid ongoing deadly protests.

The SADC troika was led by Botswana’s Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Lemogang Kwape. South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor also attended the meeting.

Members of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security met with acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku. The eSwatini government announced that it has set up a team to work with SADC to restore peace in the country.

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“It is our goal for the country, as shared by the founding principles of SADC, that we [and] the region always maintain peace and stability for sustainable economic growth & prosperity,” Masuku said in a tweet.

Kwape said the delegation would also meet with civil society.  

“We look forward to a candid engagement with all the stakeholders,” Kwape said in a statement.

eSwatini has been the site of violent protests, with looting and businesses set alight since Tuesday. Demonstrators are calling for multiparty democracy in Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

The visit comes after a statement by Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi, current chairperson of SADC’s organ on politics, defence and security.

“SADC also urges all stakeholders to channel their grievances through the established national structures, and the authorities to have an open national dialogue, in order to continue upholding the legacy of peace and stability that has characterised the people of the Kingdom of eSwatini, and the region at large,” Masisi said.

READ | Death toll in eSwatini protests rises, but govt, activists dispute exact figures

The SADC statement also cited one death, in sharp contrast to the at least 40 fatalities cited by opposition movements and pro-democracy activists.

Activists, however, rubbished SADC’s statement for failing to take into account the human cost of the protests.

A burnt truck is seen on the side of the road in M

A burnt truck on the side of the road in Manzini, eSwatini, during protests.

“Due to the fact that the head of the SADC troika has failed to effectively deal with the decades long problem in the country,” said Lucky Lukhele, spokesperson for the Swaziland Security Network.

“We are now appealing to all civic organisations and all political parties in the SADC region to make it their government’s foreign policies to isolate the Swazi state and force it to adhere to democratic principles,” said Lukhele.

 

The News 24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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