1. Cloud of uncertainty continues to hover over Eswatini

A deep pall of uncertainty continues to hang over the political atmosphere in Eswatini, with pockets of the citizenry choosing to be skeptical about the proposed national dialogue aimed at finding a resolution to the unrest that country.

Pro-democracy forces have from inception been wary about the proposed conflict resolution processes, as there was a growing fear that the Head of state and his traditional allies would like to have the dialogue conducted on their own terms, as opposed to suggested guidelines. As a result, there have been mounting calls for the international community to intervene to ensure that there is a constructive and meaningful conflict resolution process. The general feeling is that international actors should take a strategic and deliberate approach while at the same time being sensitive or accommodating to cultural differences. Although SADC had been taking a lead in shaping the responses towards the proposed dialogue, a political storm exploded recently when rumours started filtering to the effect that the economic bloc’s main organ which is responsible for the process was being pushed aside by the Eswatini government. The summit of the SADC Organ Troika plus Mozambique and Eswatini was announced in the past few weeks and eSwatini was requested to provide a progress report on the situation in the Kingdom. However, Mswati had allegedly pulled out of the summit saying he wanted more time to consult internally. Criticism has also been levelled against leaders for failing to show the way. The fact that no dates and real objectives have been identified continues to cast a shadow of doubt on the anticipated process.

Speaking to the Swaziland News, human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, the Chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholders Forum alleged that King Mswati was actually delaying the dialogue facilitated by SADC so that he can have more time to brutalize and silence the people. The Multi-Stakeholders Forum is a collaboration of political parties and organizations within the civil society working together to amplify the calls for democratic reforms.

Meanwhile Eswatini’s main Church body, The Council of Swaziland Churches (CSC), has called on government to be transparent in the preparations for the dialogue. “We are seeing a new culture of mistrust and intolerance emerging, where the use of violence to resolve disputes has become the order of the day….” (read part of CSC’s statement). The Church body further said the lives of emaSwati were unfortunately negatively affected by all the challenges and different reactions from all sectors of society, including the violence witnessed almost every day.

The crackdown on pro-democracy activists continues. While the riots have died down, sporadic attacks on ordinary citizens and against government structures and those perceived to be aligned with the established order continue to illustrate a growing trust deficit in the country’s general populace. A spate of bombings, is currently being witnessed in the country:

 Government structures (Kwaluseni Inkhundla) and properties of prominent people including the King’s senior son who also heads Eswatini’s Defence Force, Minister of Tinhkudla’s homestead, MPs homestead

 A car belonging to Wandile Dludlu, the Secretary General of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) was petrol bombed, no one has claimed responsibility.

 Mbongwa Dlamini, the President of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers(SNAT) was attacked by Mswati’s police and almost killed when the police were searching for members of the newly established Swaziland Liberation Movement(SWALIMO).


2. Catholic School Petrol Bombed

Jude Atemake reports for ACI Africa: The Catholic Bishop of Manzini, the only Diocese in the Kingdom of Eswatini, has visited St. Elizabeth Primary School after the institution’s library was reportedly “petrol bombed” on Monday, April 4.

In a statement issued Wednesday, April 6, Bishop José Luis Ponce de León provides details about the incident and expresses his spiritual solidarity with “all those who have been traumatized by the experience.”

“The evening of Monday 04 April, St Elizabeth Primary School’s library (Majembeni) was petrol bombed. This morning I visited the place and prayed with the school’s staff,” Bishop Ponce de León says in the statement obtained by ACI Africa.

He adds, “We do not know who is responsible for this. We do not know the reason why it was done.”

“It is difficult to know who benefits from this. We do know who pays the consequences: the children,” the member of Consolata Missionaries says in his April 6 statement.

He notes that “it is always the poor and the most vulnerable who suffer most the consequences of violence.”

“Violence can only generate more violence. It does not matter where it comes from nor who inflicts it. Jesus chose to break the cycle of violence on the cross. Those who follow him, do the same,” the Catholic Bishop says.

He continues, “Jesus’ tears over Jerusalem naturally come back to our hearts and minds. Jesus continues to cry over these ‘new Jerusalems’ unable to find the way to peace.”

 

Photo Below: Bishop Jose Luis Ponce de Leon with the staff of St Elizabeth’s School

 

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