Mbabane: The President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa has assembled a high-powered team of officials to visit Eswatini this week.
This comes after the continued violent protest action from public transport operators and school learners over the last few weeks.
Ramaphosa is acting in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Organ on defense, politics, and security. He has appointed three special envoys to come and assess the situation in the country.
According to reports emanating from neighboring South Africa, Ramaphosa appointed former Justice Minister, Jeff Hadebe, Deputy Minister of International Relations, Candith Mashego-Dlamini, and special advisor in international relations in the Presidency, Maropene Ramokgopa. The three South African officials will be joined by SADC Executive Secretary, Elias Magosi, senior officials of the SADC Secretariat, and representatives from Botswana and Namibia.
Political and social unrest in Eswatini has reached unprecedented levels with the number of unconfirmed fatalities from security officials fast approaching 100 since June. The unrests emanate from a sense of unhappiness from a large section of the population with the state of governance.
Many have called for political reform including Members of Parliament, Mduduzi “Bacede” Mabuza, Mthandeni Dube, and Mduduzi “Gauzela” Simelane. Mabuza and Dube have since been and arrested while Simelane who has evaded arrest has been labeled a fugitive from the law. Demands for their release from large sections of the population have caused the riots to intensify rendering the shutdown of most services in the country’s towns.
It is yet to be seen whether the visit of the Ramaphosa delegation will bear any fruit following the marginal success of the SADC Organ Troika Ministerial Fact-Finding Mission and the Technical Fact-Finding Mission that was deployed to the Kingdom to consult extensively with stakeholders, from 15th to 22nd July 2021. Those two missions were sent by President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi of Botswana who was the then Chairperson of the SADC Organ on defense, politics, and security. Stakeholders from the pro-democracy movement in Eswatini were left disappointed as they were not given a report detailing the outcome of the SADC mission.
The spokesperson in Eswatini’s King’s Office, Percy Simelane says at this stage it is still premature to confirm the visit. Simelane says “if there are any arrangements of this nature they are still being conducted behind closed doors. It could be that such preparations are being made and once something tangible occurs then all stakeholders will be adequately informed.”
SADC continues to appeal for calm and restraint from all the stakeholders in the Kingdom of Eswatini and encourages national dialogue in the efforts towards resolving the country’s political and socio-economic challenges. The high-powered delegation is expected in the kingdom before the end of the week.