Eswatini Authorities Have Yet to Show They Are Serious About Dialogue

As the nation continues to await the National Dialogue (Sibaya) almost six months into the year, many are still in the dark as to whether it will eventually happen, and if it indeed happens, what form it will take. Some people are of the feeling that they are being left out of the planning and inception stages of the process, whilst others are of the view that the drafting of the Terms of Reference is not an inclusive process. A large number of people have been quite vociferous in their call for a political dialogue that will meet international benchmarks and standards and be based on an equal basis and mutually agreed on terms of engagement where neither the king nor government have the upper hand. “We are not the only country to face a political and governance crisis. Only a political dialogue that conforms to international best practices will bring a lasting solution and peace in Eswatini.” (Thulani Maseko, Convenor of the Multi Stakeholder Forum and the Human Rights Lawyer).

People maintain that the national dialogue should be about the exchange of ideas among the different interest groups regarding a broad range of national issues that will drive public policy and bring about the desired national reforms. As it stands, It is not likely that the dialogue will bring about the outcomes that will be binding because there will be no instrument that enforces changes. The environment in which the dialogue will be held is still hostile; some of the leaders of the pro-democracy movement are still in jail and others in exile and there are still laws, practices and conduct by mostly traditional leaders that make it absolutely difficult for the people to participate.

Meanwhile, the two pro-democracy MPs jailed for suggesting in Parliament that the time has come for the people of Eswatini to elect a government of their own free choosing, have been denied bail by the highest Court in the Land: the Supreme Court.

On another note, heavily armed Eswatini’s security personnel fired shots and stun grenades at peaceful protesters who were marching to the Regional police headquarters to deliver a petition rejecting the Thabani Nkomonye report. This was during the Thabani Nkomonye Commemoration marking exactly a year the late UNESWA Law student died under questionable circumstances resulting in the political unrest witnessed last year.



Eswatini is among five African countries that have recorded the highest number of new Covid-19 cases. The country is also the third highest when it comes to daily infections and has been listed together with South Africa as countries that have reported a test positivity rate higher than 12% this past week. South Africa was the latest country to have declared a fifth wave. The vaccination rate in Eswatini stands at 29.8% of the total population

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