Send a delegation from Southern Africa to Eswatini, a troubled nation

Southern African countries sent envoys from the small kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) to talk to King Mswati III regarding the civil and political unrest that has gripped the country over the past weeks.

Send a delegation from Southern Africa to Eswatini, a troubled nation

Top officials from Eswatini's neighbour South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia were sent by the 16-nation Southern African Development Community.

Pro-democracy demonstrators have been demanding radical reforms, including the removal King Mswati from power. He has ruled the mountainous country as an absolute monarch since 1986. All political parties are prohibited in the country.

Activists accuse Mswati of ordering the violent suppression of demonstrations by the country's security force. Pro-democracy activists claim King Mswati lives a lavish life with more than a dozen women, while most of the country's 1.1million people live in poverty. Eswatini is among the least developed countries in the world.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is the chairman of the regional bloc's committee for defense, politics, and security. He announced that a delegation made up of representatives from the bloc’s countries would travel to Eswatini on Thursday.

South Africa's former justice Minister Jeff Radebe is the leader of the delegation. The regional body had sent a delegation earlier in the year, but was criticised for not meeting with representatives from the pro-democracy movement.

Mduduzi Simelane is a dissident member in Eswatini's Parliament who faces arrest for involvement in pro-democracy activities.

"We hope that Ramaphosa will send these envoys into Swaziland to address the problems, not just to listen to Mswati," Simelane said, using the country’s old name which was changed abruptly by the king in 2018.

"We don't know if this was motivated by the violence Mswati unleashed yesterday (Wednesday) or what the motivation was," Simelane said, adding that he was hiding from The Associated Press because he feared his life.

As videos of unrest were spreading on social media, the government of the King tried to stop them by limiting internet access.

MTN Eswatini is the country's largest mobile operator. On Thursday, it confirmed that it was being instructed to close certain services.

Eswatini MTN stated that the business had implemented the directive, and that access to Facebook Messenger and Facebook has been temporarily suspended.

The group released a statement saying that it will continue to engage with relevant stakeholders in order to minimize the disruption and the duration.

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