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Banks shut, phones cut as anti-monarchy protests rock Eswatini

The violence has escalated this week, prompting the state to announce a 6 pm-to-5 am curfew.
Image: AFP/Getty Images

Banks and stores were forced to close and mobile-phone services disrupted as violent pro-democracy protests prompted Africa’s last absolute monarchy to declare a curfew and send soldiers onto the streets.

Shoprite, the Johannesburg-based retailer, shut most of its shops in Eswatini, where demonstrations against King Mswati III’s rule have been the worst in years. Lenders, including the units of South Africa-based FirstRand, Nedbank and Standard Bank, closed branches and MTN Group, the biggest mobile operator, warned its services were cut.

“We are highly concerned about the malicious damage” to property that occurred during the protests, Shoprite said in an emailed statement Thursday. It has “disrupted the food supply chain in the country and puts the livelihood, lives and safety of others at risk,” it said.

The violence has escalated this week, prompting the state to announce a 6 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew. Martial law was declared nationwide, the US embassy in Eswatini said on its website Wednesday. A government spokesperson didn’t respond to an email seeking confirmation of that.

The government of neighbouring South Africa, whose border almost completely surrounds the kingdom, expressed concern about reports of loss of life and the destruction of property, and called on the security forces to exercise restraint.

Known as Swaziland until 2018, Eswatini has been led since 1986 by Mswati, who controls parliament and appoints ministers. The landlocked country of 1.3 million people is the last African nation that recognises Taiwan as independent, and an ally.

Earlier in the week, police fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters demanding democracy in the country that has banned political parties since the early 1970s. The government denied reports that the king had fled the country.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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Shoprite “highly concerned about the malicious damage to property” whilst the South African government “called on the security forces to exercise restraint”.

The all too familiar approach of our government of “As long as no-one gets hurt you are welcome to cause as much destruction as you please”.

Shame, if they get a democracy they will be worse off… like South Africa. Better to have only one king stealing and dividing the spoils, if the king knows the window for stealing is indefinite. The ANC elite has a small window to carry out the job and that leads to reckless behavior. Stuck between a rock and a rock. Hopefully people do not get killed by the hundreds as the king would like the window for stealing to remain indefinite…

All Monarchs Must Fall, including in SA and UK.

But will the lumpen proletariat have left to cheer them up from their poverty if they can’t line the roads and wave flags as the aristocrats and royalty acknowledge them with a fixed smile and a tired wave?

There is no referendum required or sought for a coup or regime change. The same happens when the power is stolen from the people. This is never a formalised democratic process, not even a poll so how can anyone be sure if the majority want it? Either way, it is greed and corruption that greases the mechanisms of power and provides the heavy lifting of the motivation. The people can never actually obtain the real power, the money power is 90% in the hands of just a few. But, if it makes them peaceful, what’s the harm?

There’s an aesops fable about the frogs who wanted a king. So god gave them a stork who then ate the frogs.

That’s it in a nutshell. His majesty for the swazis and the anc for south africa.

End of comments.

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