Mnangagwa’s Poor Human Rights Record Riles International Rights Group
23 January 2023
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Southern African leaders have come under sharp criticism in the Human Rights Watch (HRW) 2023 report, with claims that they have failed to address the abuse of civilians.

The report, which was released on Thursday, cited the refusal of Eswatini’s King Mswati III to engage in dialogue, South Africa’s failure to protect migrants, Mozambique’s ongoing conflict with insurgents in Cabo Delgado, and Zimbabwe’s lack of meaningful steps to uphold rights.

Last year, Eswatini continued to experience pockets of resistance from pro-democracy activists calling for the king’s removal from southern Africa’s last absolute monarchy. 

In 2021, the king was brought to the negotiation table by President Cyril Ramaphosa to agree on a national dialogue. 

At the time, Ramaphosa was chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

In principle, the king agreed. But along the way, he found a way to remove Eswatini from SADC’s agenda.

“In April (2022), the king removed Eswatini from the agenda of the SADC Organ’s Troika meeting where the national dialogue was supposed to be discussed. The July SADC extraordinary summit was postponed without further notice due to the unavailability of Eswatini, which was on the agenda,” HRW said.

The non-governmental organisation cited this as the highlight of Eswatini’s failure to address the ongoing human rights crisis.

Eswatini will hold Tinkhundla elections this year, an electoral system that serves as a form of governance on the basis of traditional administrative subdivisions.

But the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM), under the Swaziland Multi-Stakeholder Forum, adopted the eBundu Declaration at a two-day gathering in Mpumalanga, South Africa in December last year to outright reject and boycott the elections.