Eswatini opposition parties, civil society meet in SA to plot strategy against King Mswati

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King Mswati III.
King Mswati III.
  • Opposition parties and civil society in Eswatini have adopted the eBundu Declaration during a meeting in South Africa.
  • They called on the public to continue putting pressure on King Mswati III.
  • The declaration signatories agreed to push for the international isolation of the king.

Civil society and opposition parties in Eswatini met in South Africa last week to discuss and adopt a strategy aimed at achieving the abdication of King Mswati III and turning the monarchy into a democracy.

The Mass Democratic Movement (MDM), under the Swaziland Multi-Stakeholder Forum, adopted the eBundu Declaration at a two-day gathering in Mbombela in Mpumalanga.

Named after the lodge where the meeting was held, the group said the declaration was aimed at making "resolutions on important political issues affecting our country, Swaziland".

The opposition and civil society in Eswatini still refer to the country as Swaziland.

They view the name change by King Mswati as a dictatorial tendency similar to that of Mobutu Sese Seko, who renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Zaire in 1971.

They said they were reaffirming their fight to break down the monarchy in Eswatini in the spirit of those that died in 2022 during mass riots in the country.

READ |'Security is fast deteriorating': Eswatini activists welcome SADC move

"(We are) humbled and driven forward by the spirit of the ultimate sacrifice of the martyrs of our revolution, who have been senselessly and brutally slaughtered by the government of King Mswati III.

"Galvanised by the radical energy and determination of young people, and catapulted by the spirit displayed by our people in various activities and during the recent shutdowns led by our transport operators in collaboration with the Mass Democratic Movement," read their resolution document.

Their declarations included:
  • A call on all "progressive forces" within the MDM to unify and continue the task of liberating the people of Eswatini
  • Reaffirming their position of not participating in the 2023 Tinkhundla elections and the adoption of an anti-election campaign that will guide all anti-election activities
  • Convening a Solidarity Conference in 2023 to garner support for the struggle of the people of Eswatini
  • A call for the public to take to the streets
  • A call for the unconditional release of all political prisoners and the safe and unconditional return of all exiles
  • Continuing to call for the alienation of King Mswati, the royal family and the Eswatini government at all regional and international forums to prevent them from being recognised as the legitimate authority of the country

Elections are expected to be held in Eswatini next year. Tinkhundla is an electoral system that serves as a form of governance, based on traditional, administrative subdivisions.

Eswatini has 55 Tinkhundlas in its four districts. There are 14 in Hhohho, 11 in Lubombo, 16 in Manzini, and 14 in Shiselweni.

The call by civil society and the opposition for a boycott of the elections is not unique to Eswatini. Last week, an election boycott in Tunisia resulted in an 8.8% voter turnout, which attracted international attention as calls for President Kais Saied to step down gained momentum.

The News24 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 the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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