Two Swaziland (eSwatini) members of parliament have been charged under a terrorism law after speaking out for democracy in the kingdom.
Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube appeared in court on Monday (26 July 2021) and were remanded in custody until 2 August. A bail hearing has been scheduled for Thursday.
They have been charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2011.
Swaziland is not a democracy and is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch. Political parties are banned from taking part in elections and MPs are elected on ‘individual merit’. Individuals who advocate for democracy are routinely charged under the terrorism act.
The arrests came after weeks of protests in Swaziland. As many as 100 people might have been killed by security forces, according to an estimate by the Communist Party of Swaziland. The Swaziland Solidarity Network put the figure closer to 70.
The arrests have been condemned by prodemocracy organisations. The Peoples’ United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) called for an international boycott of Swazi goods on 6 August to deny King Mswati the revenue he needed to pay his security forces to “brutalise” the population.
The US embassy in Swaziland said in its statement, ‘The people of Eswatini have the constitutional right to be heard through, and represented by, their own freely chosen representatives in Parliament.
‘The suppression of the right of individuals — including members of Parliament — to freely express their opinions is unacceptable.’
Swaziland Army in ‘full charge’ after protests, many killed, Human Rights Watch reports