Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Foreign Affairs ministry applying double standards on Swaziland

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Phandu Skelemani’s office this week declined to explain exactly what he meant that there has always been political tolerance in Swaziland.

Botswana Press Agency (BOPA) this week reported Skelemani as having said that there is political tolerance in Swaziland, including the respect for the constitution.

To the contrary, political parties in Swaziland were banned in 1973 by King Sobhuza II.

“Botswana will always support the will of the people of Swaziland as long as their demonstrations are lawful and are for the benefit of the majority of the people of Swaziland,” Skelemani is quoted as saying.

Gaborone condemned the regime of the toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, thousands of miles away, before breaking ranks with regional block partners to become the first African country to sever diplomatic ties with Libya, citing the use of lethal force on peaceful protesters by Libyan security forces.

Malawi has since emulated Botswana by cutting diplomatic ties with Libya on Thursday hot on the heels of a state visit to this country by President Bingu wa Mutharika ÔÇô a visit that was boycotted by the opposition.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has spoken against the use of force on peaceful protesters in Swaziland, which thwarted what was to be the “April 12 Revolution” and called on the unbanning of political parties.

Unlike Botswana who says she will not prescribe to Swaziland, South Africa’s ruling party says the use of security forces to quell any form of political dissent and failure to address legitimate concerns of citizens, can only lead to the worsening of relations between government and civilians.

“We call on the government of Swaziland to work towards the normalisation of the political environment by unbanning opposition political parties, releasing political activists and engaging in a meaningful dialogue with opposition political and trade union leaders to find a collective solution to the socio-economic situation faced by that country,” South Africa’s deputy International Relations Minister, Ebrahim Ebrahim, said in a statement.

“In the interest of maintaining the much need stability within the Southern Africa Development Community we strongly believe that the situation in Swaziland requires an urgent attention,” the statement further reads.

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