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WE ARE STILL IN MOURNING - CANGO

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MBABANE – The public is still mourning the death of people allegedly killed by armed forces at the height of the unrest that resulted in the looting, vandalism and burning of some businesses.

This is according to the Co-ordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO). Executive Director of CANGO Emmanuel Ndlangamandla said they were still anticipating dialogue following the recent political upheaval in the country, which resulted in business establishments being looted, vandalised and burnt. During the political protests, it was alleged over 60 people were killed; however, government first denied that there were deaths and later confirmed 27 deaths. Ndlangamandla said they were still in pain and mourning as many people lost loved ones and family members. He wondered who would attend Sibaya as many people were still in mourning.

Tragedy

“The (alleged) killing of people was a tragedy and it needs to be acknowledged as that first, for the healing process to begin,” he said. Another concern that was raised by Ndlangamandla was that in Eswatini, the law did not treat people equally. He said a case in point was the manner in which COVID -19 regulations were being implemented. He said this was very concerning as people were being reprimanded for not adhering to COVID-19 regulations; but when Sibaya was called, the restriction on the numbers of people who could gather was not limited despite that the country was in the midst of a third wave which was deadlier. “This means that the current curfew is not meant to serve what we are being told it is for. How can the economy be grinded to a halt at 3pm while a superspreader event is called?” he said. It is worth noting that in the announcement calling for Sibaya, it was said the Ministry of Health would test people before being granted access to partake in the cattle byre.

Excused

It was announced that those who would test positive for the virus would be excused and could follow proceedings through live broadcasts on the various media platforms of the country. Ndlangamandla said as CANGO, they could not encourage or discourage people to attend Sibaya, but what was a fact was that decisions taken during the People’s Parliament did not represent the whole population as the numbers were skewed. He said decisions taken during Sibaya sittings had not been of the majority in the past as the set-up of the event was one-way and it was bound not to assist with the pain people had following recent developments in the political landscape. “This situation does not warrant Sibaya, but it needs all sectors to be in a neutral setting and express their opinions about their affairs,” he said. According to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), Eswatini has a population of about 1.1 million, with 36.6 per cent under the age of 15 while the age group of 15-24 years constituted of 19.31 per cent. The population data also reflects that the age group of 25-54 years constituted 38.22 per cent while 4.28 per cent was people aged between 55-64.

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