THE proposal for an open national dialogue in eSwatini is highly welcomed as a way forward towards finding a long-lasting solution, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said on Tuesday.
The chairperson of the SADC Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security, Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi, said a team of ministers will be sent to eSwatini on a second fact-finding mission.
The SADC troika team went to eSwatini on Sunday on a fact-finding mission, but there was a public outcry that civil society organisations and political parties did not meet the SADC team.
“The purpose of the mission was to gather first-hand information on the disturbances, including the state of security in the country, and to appeal for calm and restraint from all the stakeholders, as well as to propose consideration of an open national dialogue as a way forward in the efforts towards finding a lasting solution,” Masisi said in a statement.
He said the team held consultations with the government of eSwatini and attempted to meet a broad spectrum of other stakeholders across the eSwatini nation.
“Due to the short notice, it was not possible to reach many of the stakeholders. As a result, it was agreed that a second mission will be dispatched urgently to eSwatini to continue the consultation process with the other stakeholders in the country.
“Therefore, a short meeting was held with a few civil society organisations to assure them of a second mission to the country to hold further consultations with all other key stakeholders.”
South African opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said on Monday that the situation in eSwatini called for immediate intervention and mediation.
The party recommended that former South African president Thabo Mbeki be deployed to bring about stability in eSwatini, stating that he had managed to resolve conflict in several African countries and in the Middle East.
The Kingdom of eSwatini is engulfed in violent protests as citizens push for democratic reforms.
The protests began peacefully in the Manzini region on June 20 but turned violent on June 28 after Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku banned protests and demonstrations, citing Covid-19 regulations.
Irate protesters torched government buildings and property linked to King Mswati III.
Masuku said the damage caused to government and private property was estimated at 3 billion Emalangeni (about US$209,930,000).
He appealed to businesses that were not affected by the protests to open and for workers to return to work, adding that security forces would continue to be vigilant to ensure the safety of the public, businesses and other property.
However, workers’ unions said it was not safe for workers to return to work while soldiers were still deployed in the streets.