Mulungisi Makhnya, the president of the opposition People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), told CNN on Tuesday that he had seen military and police patrols on the ground.
“The army was brought in to help with defense and protection,” said Ewatini’s Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Sen Manakoba Khumalo.
But the executive Christian president of the Economic Freedom Fighters accused the military of having more sinister aims.
“For now we are running after troops were sent to kill political party leaders,” activist Nombulello Dlamini told CNN.
The president of the National Union of Students (SNUS) is also in hiding, he told CNN.
“We only want dialogue. We do not encourage violence. The government must involve its people,” said SNUS president Kolani Maseko.
Tensions persist despite an urgent mission sent to the kingdom by Botswana’s President Mokgwetsi Masi, including foreign ministers from Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“The South African Development Community Mission called for a national dialogue and called for peace,” Massi said in a statement on Tuesday.
‘Total assault on human rights’
Depros Muchena, Amnesty’s director of East and Southern Africa, said “dozens of people have been executed, many of them human rights defenders and activists, for demanding their government respect human rights.”
With a population of only 1.16 million, the kingdom formerly known as Swaziland is an absolute monarchy ruled by King Mswati III. He has absolute authority and is consulted on all matters relating to the operation of the State.
Members of parliament and opposition party leaders are calling for changes to the constitution to allow for democratic elections and to remove King from the parliamentary process.
Lawmaker Mabuja Basede said, “We want freedom where the king cannot interfere in anything in Parliament.” “We cannot convene the Parliament without the King, yet the King is not in the Parliament. If you pass a resolution, that motion must be approved alone.”
Commerce Minister Khumalo said the king agreed that he would be respected if the majority of Christians wanted to effect constitutional change. But, he said, it “has to be done through national dialogue and reform.”
The regional body said in its statement on Tuesday that SADC representatives will return to the country on a second mission to take forward peace talks with stakeholders on the ground. No date has been confirmed yet.