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A STATE OF ANARCHY

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We can boast about being a sovereign State that will not be dictated to by foreign elements but at this particular point in time, we are in a state of anarchy.

One does not need to have a crystal ball to deduce that this is bound to get worse. I am among the many citizens who have noted and mentioned this over the past year. The worrying part is that nobody within the Eswatini echelons of political power has noted or mentioned the same thing. Our leadership seems to be singing from a different hymn book than that of the ordinary citizen. My dictionary defines anarchy as disorder, chaos, mayhem and lawlessness. Eswatini is in a serious state of lawlessness. I will cite a few recent examples of this disastrous situation. Let me start by one of the videos circulating on some social media platforms. It shows a group of inebriated bar patrons interrogating a man who is said to be a member of the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF). They throw several questions at him, asking him to identify the people who killed unarmed citizens during the June 29, 2021 riots.

Responds

The equally drunk soldier responds to some of the questions and mentions certain names. It is not clear if what he is saying is the truth or he was just playing along to save his skin. What is clear is that this is an abnormal situation. No civilised society, with law and order still intact, would allow such to happen. In countries where the law still exists, police and soldiers are held in high esteem and are the people to go to when citizens feel threatened by anything. They are not waylaid by not-so-sober citizens and asked questions about stuff they might not even have a clue about.

Yes, while many members of the security forces have been seen assaulting unarmed protestors or torturing suspects, some of them are actually very good people who uphold professionalism in all they do. It is unfortunate that in our country, security forces have lost all the respect they previously commanded. Not only that, they have become the enemy of the general public. It all began on the same June 29, everybody is talking about, when dozens of people were killed, allegedly by security forces. The nation has been calling for the arrest of the killers, to no avail.

The fact that this does not seem to bother those who have power to ensure that the cases of murder are investigated angers the public. We are still talking about lawlessness, which has gripped Eswatini in a manner never seen before. We have seen unknown people killing police officers in cold blood.  The killers were not known at the time of writing this analysis but some people calling themselves `ground forces’ are alleged to have claimed responsibility, apparently saying they were killing the officers as a vengeful reaction to the deaths of many emaSwati during last year’s riots.  This has not yet been verified as investigations continue. Police officers are humans first and security agents later.

Scared

They are rightfully scared for their lives after the series of shootings. One cannot really blame them for being apprehensive about getting out of their respective stations when people make distress calls. After the last few incidents when such calls were meant to make them leave the charge office, so that the killers could easily attack them, who is to know what will befall them when they get out? At the same time, policing is their duty; it is what we taxpayers pay them for and we expect them to respond to our emergency calls immediately without showing any signs of being terrified. Trouble is, now that the police are reluctant to venture out, criminal elements are taking advantage and terrorising residents everywhere.

Car thieves are also having the time of their lives, knowing that the response time from members of the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS), which was never impressive in the first place, is now almost non-existent. Last week, two police officers were assaulted and one of them stabbed in Siphofaneni, for allegedly singing a song associated with the Incwala sacred ceremony. This is yet another sign of lawlessness and hatred between citizens and State security agents. Two days later, it was reported that a mob had assaulted and killed two people for alleged housebreaking and theft. This happened in Lombiwako, an area under Nsingizini near Hluthi. Two suspects, a male and female, died after being assaulted by a mob.  The police had been called but did not respond until the following day.

Tortured

While waiting for police, the suspects were tortured and taken around the community. They were forced to admit to all the crimes they had committed.
This REPS’ slow response has contributed greatly to the rise in crime cases in Eswatini, especially those associated with violence. Crimes like arson are a cause for concern as well. In the last few months, they have escalated to worrying levels, leaving many families without food, shelter or clothing.
Arsonists normally attack under the veil of darkness. Knowing that neither the fire and emergency services nor the police will respond to emergency calls, they strike knowing that their evil mission will be fulfilled without hindrance.  A recent arson attack was at the Mpolonjeni umphakatsi, which was being attacked for the second time.

Whether it is politically motivated or a result of a chieftaincy dispute, the fact that fire was used as a weapon is another grim reminder that Eswatini is now a lawless country. Before this, some buildings at the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) had also been set alight, resulting in millions of Emalangeni worth of damage. When will it all end? This anarchy will not end just because National Commissioner of Police William Tsitsibala Dlamini said the police were not afraid of their killers, who should face them instead of attacking discreetly. The challenge of lawlessness needs a political solution because it is the result of the mishandling of political matters.

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