Eswatini pro-democracy protests continue to mount as government blocks internet, social media

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Firefighters extinguish a fire at a supermarket in Manzini, Eswatini on 30 June 2021 in the wake of protests.
Firefighters extinguish a fire at a supermarket in Manzini, Eswatini on 30 June 2021 in the wake of protests.
PHOTO: AFP
  • Eswatini's government shut down the internet for two hours as ongoing pro-democracy protests swept towards the capital.
  • Before the shutdown, images of the protests, including some claiming to show people shot by security forces, circulated on social media.
  • The protests have been running for more than two weeks, with unions, opposition parties, and student groups joining in.


Mbabane – Eswatini, Africa's last absolute monarchy, shut down the internet for two hours on Friday as pro-democracy marchers headed to the capital.

The shutdown came as images of the protests circulated on social and traditional media, including pictures of two people who said they had been injured by gunshots fired by security forces.

The internet shutdown blocked social media completely for two hours, and left many services running very slowly afterwards.

"It is a pity that we have a government that chooses on suppressing the people's voices, or shut down all communications lines, instead of addressing the demands that are being raised by our people," said Wonder Mkhonza, general secretary of the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland.

He told AFP:

The ostrich mentality by the dictatorship is shameful to say the least. The ruling elites are hell-bent on taking the whole country down with them and they will pay for their actions.

Formerly known as Swaziland, Eswatini is ruled by King Mswati III, Africa's last absolute monarch.

He owns shares in all of the country's telecoms.

Calls for release of lawmakers

Unions, opposition parties, and student groups have joined the latest protests, which have run for more than two weeks.

Protesters have also closed roads leading to all borders in the tiny, landlocked nation. Soldiers were seen on the streets in main cities.

The latest demonstrations have mainly called for the release of two lawmakers arrested during pro-democracy protests earlier this year.

Civil society and opposition groups demonstrated in the largest cities Manzini and Mbabane in June, looting shops and ransacking business properties.

At least 28 people died as police clashed with protesters in some of the worst unrest in the southern African country's history. The latest fatality came on Wednesday.

But at the root of all the protesters' demands is an insistence on democratic reform.

We want to hear your views on the news. Subscribe to News24 to be part of the conversation in the comments section of this article.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Authorities should bring in the army already
10% - 971 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
53% - 5258 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
34% - 3421 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
3% - 327 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.23
-0.1%
Rand - Pound
19.77
+0.2%
Rand - Euro
16.68
+0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.47
+0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.1%
Gold
1,785.35
-0.4%
Silver
20.46
-0.6%
Palladium
2,239.04
-0.7%
Platinum
946.48
0.0%
Brent Crude
97.40
+1.1%
Top 40
63,161
0.0%
All Share
69,745
0.0%
Resource 10
64,485
0.0%
Industrial 25
84,636
0.0%
Financial 15
15,760
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE