Call for SA to intervene in Eswatini crisis, MTN trying to reconnect service

30 June 2021 - 14:11 By naledi shange
Businesses linked to Eswatini King Mswati have been targetted by protesters. File photo.
Businesses linked to Eswatini King Mswati have been targetted by protesters. File photo.

The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) says SA could carry the burden if it does not intervene in the crisis in Eswatini soon.

SSN spokesperson Lucky Lukhele said SA and Mozambique should intervene on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).

“If they allow the blood to spill, there may not be any soap to wash the blood. The situation may be so dire that people will flee into SA.

“South Africa will find itself absorbing half the Swazi population, which will add to the burden already added by Zimbabweans and many other African refugees who are in SA. It’s in the best interest of SA to intervene on behalf of the Sadc,” Lukhele said.

He was speaking to TimesLIVE about the civil revolt that has erupted in Estwatini as citizens demand reforms to its system of absolute monarchy.

King Mswati is yet to speak on the matter. 

Lukhele said there were several fatalities and scores of injuries as law enforcement pushed back against protesters. 

On Wednesday morning, there were videos and reports that Eswatini Beverages was set alight by demonstrators.

Lukhele said this is one of many businesses linked to King Mswati that have been attacked by protesters.

“Any major business, be it mining or car dealerships, the King demands a share from them of between 49% and 51%.

“The Swaziland brewery for instance, through a company owned by the king, has a  shareholding of 49%. The people went in not to burn SA Breweries (SAB) the brewery is a subsidiary of SAB but because of the hands of the king on the shares,” said Lukhele.

“The sugar belt and the forestry industry, in which the king has shares, are also being targeted so it is clear who the target is. There are SA businesses that became victims of the anger of the masses but the biggest attack is directed at businesses linked to the royal family.”

Parts of Eswatini have come to a standstill and others are burning.

On Tuesday, the government announced a more stringent curfew starting at 6pm, saying it had fears that with the masses on the streets, Covid-19 was sure to spread.

Acting prime minister Themba Masuku called for citizens to turn to online portals to submit their petitions and grievances to the government.

Lukhele said the government had cut off internet access in parts of the country.

MTN on Wednesday confirmed a disruption to its services in Eswatini.

“MTN Eswatini confirms the organisation is experiencing disruption to services and connectivity as of Tuesday,” said MTN Eswatini CEO Wandile Mtshali.

“Meeting our customers’ needs remain a key priority for us. We are committed to restoring our services and connectivity as soon as possible. We encourage all our customers to make use of the self-service offerings through our digital platforms.

“As a precaution, we are exploring all necessary measures to ensure the safety our customers, staff and partners. We will monitor the situation and keep our customers updated on all relevant developments.”

MTN Eswatini said it “will continue engaging with all relevant stakeholders and authorities to mininise and limit the duration”.

“We remain committed to ensuring a peaceful, harmonious, and respectful relationship with all stakeholders in Eswatini.”