Lobamba: The liberators are robbing those they are claiming to be liberating. This is the observation of the Director of Communications in the King’s Office, Percy Simelane in reacting to the recent and widespread arson attacks on public infrastructure in Eswatini.
These arson attacks are a legacy of the violent protest actions that occurred throughout the country in June. The violent demonstrations led to the destruction of private and public property worth approximately E3 Billion. They have resulted in the torching of at least 11 schools and the deaths of more than 70 people.
Simelane says “I cannot fathom how the burning of school buildings, Tinkhundla centre’s, private property, homes, and businesses is democratic. As Emaswati we need to stop the violence, burning, and arson attacks because the structures that we are incinerating are those that we still need and will continue to need in the future.”
“Democracy is not about bringing fear to the people once it gets to that stage then it is called terrorism. We need to create an enabling environment for investors and companies such as Ngonini Estates, Swaziland Beverages (Coca Cola), and YKK Zippers. Some of these companies have been in the country for more than 50 years.”
“If these arson attacks continue then these investors will leave with their jobs. As it is Eswatini has already lost thousands of jobs since June because of the arson attacks and violent destruction to businesses and infrastructure. This is on top of the jobs lost to the Covid 19 pandemic.”
Simelane says he concurs with the Head of Public Sector Governance at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr. Roger Koranteng who says “there is a need to stop inciting people to protest in order to move forward in a calm and peaceful manner. If protesting can stop, things will get back to normal and peaceful negotiation can take place. If there is still fire and burning of infrastructure, the nation cannot move forward.”
Koranteng was speaking during the House of Assembly retreat and capacity building exercise at the Eswatini Revenue Service, Headquarters in Ezulwini. He was explaining that the concept of good governance is interlinked with institutionalized values such as democracy, observance of human rights, accountability, transparency, capacity, predictability, and the general criminal justice system.
The Commonwealth official said “change is inevitable as it happens organically and cannot be stopped. However, as much as it is inevitable, there is a need for a calm and peaceful environment in order to have meaningful negotiations.”