The King of Eswatini, Mswati III, recently ordered an indefinite school shutdown due to ongoing student protests as they demand free education and better learning conditions.
The protests are also geared towards the release of two pro-democracy lawmakers, MPs Mthandeni Dube and Bacede Mabuza, who were arrested on charges of terrorism in July this year.
Besides the protesting students, public transport operators, private commuter bus operators, opposition parties and unions have all joined the latest protests over the past two weeks. This has forced people to walk between towns to their workplaces, for those lucky enough to not have their businesses closed.
The protestors are also calling for an end to Mswati III’s regime criticizing his lavish lifestyle in a country where 60 percent of the population is living in poverty since he took office in 1986.
Following the protests, security officers have also been deployed to regain control in the Mbabane and Manzini, the two largest cities. As a result of the clashes between the protesters and the army, scores of people have been arrested and 28 people, including a seven year old boy, have died.
Shutdown continues in major towns in the country as the call for democracy intensifies. Public transport operators yesterday in a meeting resolved that they won’t go back to work until their demands are met; among those demands in the release of democracy MPs.#EswatiniProtests pic.twitter.com/7GwP7OwAbs
— Economic Freedom Fighters of Swaziland (@EFFSwazi) October 18, 2021
Eswatini citizens also had to contend with an internet shutdown for two hours on Saturday to stop the spread of images related to the protest.
Formerly known as Swaziland, the Kingdom of eSwatini is a small landlocked country in Southern Africa. The King announced the renaming of the country in 2018 during the country’s 50th independence anniversary and the monarch’s 50th birthday. According to him, the change was necessitated by people who would confuse Swaziland and Switzerland.