The Southern African Development Community (SADC) was out of touch with the volatile situation in the Kingdom of eSwatini, the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) has said.
Spokesperson Lucky Lukhule came out guns blazing, shooting down the chairperson of the SADC’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security (Troika) and Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s statement on the situation in eSwatini.
“The president’s statement was appalling. The very least that anyone making a public statement on the issue should do is acquainting themselves with the facts. The facts of the matter are clear to anyone who reads and listens to news about the tiny kingdom,” Lukhele said in a statement on Saturday.
“The number of people who are confirmed to have lost their lives in the King Mswati-ordered massacre number at least 40, not ’at least one’. Forty murders within two days is what is called a massacre, in the mould of Soweto’s June 16 Uprisings or the 1963 Sharpeville massacre. No amount of spin can change that,” he said.
He was reacting to Masisi’s statement that noted with concern the reports of violent disturbances in eSwatini, and gave the death toll as one.
“The disturbances have resulted in widespread destruction of property, injuries to people, with at least one death reported. SADC also notes with concern the disruption to normal personal, community and daily economic activities, including critical government Covid-19 response strategies, which are essential for the health and safety of the people of the Kingdom of eSwatini, and the entire humanity,” Masisi said in the statement.
“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.
“To facilitate this process, the SADC Organ Troika is to urgently dispatch a team of ministers to eSwatini with a view to further encourage the kingdom to find a lasting solution,” Masisi said.
Lukhele said the SADC’s statement was one-sided, as the people who were killed did not even throw a single rock at the security forces.
“Most people who were killed were shot for simply disobeying a curfew. There is even video evidence showing the army beating up innocent young women after forcing them to open their houses in their own homes. This is the violence that occurred in the country. These are clear crimes against humanity,” Lukhule said.
He said the June 29 massacre was a result of lack of political freedoms and an oppressive system of government.
“What led to the massacre was a peaceful and widely supported campaign to deliver petitions in the different parliamentary constituencies in the country.
“That peaceful process, which was demanding political reforms, was derailed by the king when he ordered it to be suppressed. Having suppressed peaceful dissent, the king left the population with no other option but to use extra-legal means to show their dissatisfaction.”
According to opposition party the People’s United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), more than 60 people have been killed so far, 150 have been injured and hundreds of others were missing.
Pudemo reported that more than 40 people were killed on Thursday, and on Friday confirmed that 29 others were killed, according to information the party has sourced from leading hospitals.