eSwatini: pro-democracy protests

A match has been lit in the Kingdom of eSwatini. The continent’s last absolute monarchy, formerly called Swaziland, has this week been rocked by pro-democracy protests. More than 20 people have reportedly been killed by the military and police, and dozens detained.

King Mswati III has ultimate authority over parliament, cabinet and the judiciary, plus inordinate control in many of the country’s biggest companies. Some of his businesses have been set alight. 

The monarch was initially rumoured to have fled to SA seeking safety from the demonstrators, something eSwatini’s government quickly denied. They also released restrictions parading as “Covid-19” regulations, including a dusk to dawn curfew, and resorted to the tired trick of autocrats everywhere by shutting down the internet. VPN redirection services have helped to keep some news coming out of the country. 

The protests have been fuelled by government’s failure to protect the economic interests of nearly 1.3 million emaSwati. There have been stories of people with nothing to eat. This while King Mswati III and his family flash and flaunt their wealth on social media. Two of his children even did an Instagram live, literally just laughing at the protestors. If being out of touch was a person…  😳 They should have told protesters to eat cake while they were at it. Watch out for that metaphorical guillotine, kids. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 01July 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.