Young people in Eswatini to use schools being closed to join pro-democracy protests

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Young people in Eswatini say the indefinite closure of schools in their country will give them enough time to take part in the protests against the Kingdom of Eswatini. Last week, King Mswati the 3rd ordered for an immediate closure of schools due to violent protests by pupils.

Angry citizens continue to protest against the Kingdom of Eswatini. Among those who have joined the pro-democracy protests are public transport drivers and learners from different schools.

They are demanding the release of two members of parliament who were arrested for terrorism.

Two months ago,  Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube were denied bail and have been kept in custody since their arrest.

Bus rank manager in Mbabane, Ntokozo Nhlabatsi, says they will not return to work until their demands are met.

“Transport workers are complaining about provident fund and salaries. They want their salaries to be standard, something like R3 500. Lastly, the main issue is the issue of the two arrested MPs, they say they will not go back to work until they are released. They say they will continue striking.”

Plan to intensify protest

Deputy President of the Swaziland Youth Congress (Swayoco) Mbongeni Simelane says they have plans in place to intensify their protest action.

“We are planning for a mass protest action between Wednesday and Friday where all the school-going children and all sectors of the society will march across the country. Our call is the release of all the political prisoners including the arrested MPs, including those children held by King Mswati and Indlovikati for ritual purposes as some children were taken at Lomahasha last week. They disappeared after they were taken by the police.”

Damage to property 

In videos doing the rounds on social media, learners are seen burning property and assaulting people. Eswatini’s Ministry of Education is concerned about the violent protests by pupils in that country.

Education Principal Secretary in Eswatini Bertram Stewart says this would have a negative impact on education.

“ Private property was being destroyed as well as schools and government buildings. So, we are still going to assess during this current period when schools have been closed. But I don’t think we would be able to rehabilitate those schools because no budget was put aside. We never foresaw this coming so the schools might be refurbished in future years not immediately.”

It is reported that more than 80 schools were burnt by the protesting pupils. However, Bertram says they are still assessing the damage.

Spokesperson of the pro-democracy Swaziland Solidarity Network says the situation in the country is dire: