violence continues

Eswatini: South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki called in to intervene

By Carien du Plessis

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Posted on July 12, 2021 13:19

Former South African President Mbeki speaks during a meeting between Sudanese Defence Minister Hussein and his South Sudan counterpart Nyuon in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa © Former South African President Thabo Mbeki on 8 March 2013. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki on 8 March 2013. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki has been approached to help facilitate talks between government and civil society in Eswatini, following four days of violent protests in the absolute monarchy. It is understood that Eswatini’s King Mswati III and prime minister Themba Masuku approached the former statesman; but Mbeki told them he would only agree if the process is led by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a source close to the process said.

A planned weekend visit by a SADC Troika delegation – consisting of foreign ministers from Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe – did not take place. For the initial talks that were held last Sunday 4 July, only hand-picked civil society organisations were invited. Leaders from other NGOs ‘gatecrashed’ the meeting to convince ministers to include them.

Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko, chair of the multi-stakeholders coordinating team, said civil society wanted to meet the SADC delegation separately so that they could express themselves freely. He said leaders were “hopeful” that there would be a proper meeting when the delegation returns, reportedly some time this week.

‘Placing impediments’

In a letter addressed to SADC executive secretary Stergomena Tax dated 9 July, Maseko accused the Eswatini government of “placing impediments, roadblocks and obstructionist [sic]” between the SADC

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