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MBABANE – The Commission on Human Rights and Public Administration made a recommendation, which some people think might heal broken hearts.

In fact, Trade Union Congress of Eswatini (TUCOSWA said if the country’s authorities were to implement the recommendations of the Commission on Human Rights and Public Administration, the kingdom could find some sort of closure from the past civil unrest. The Commission recommended that women and children orphaned by last year’s civil unrest should be assisted. The programme to assist the women and the orphaned children is yet to be launched, as this recommendation, and many others, have not been implemented.
Mduduzi Gina, the Secretary General of TUCOSWA, said the recommendations contained in the report compiled by the Commission could be a starting point for the eagerly awaited inclusive dialogue. The commission recommended to government to initiate an independent, thorough, credible, transparent and impartial investigation by experts with relevant skills and knowledge into allegations of human rights violations and abuse, to bring those responsible to justice.


The Commission, led by Sabelo Masuku, the now acting Judge of the Supreme Court, also urged the Government of Eswatini to immediately take concrete steps towards reconciliation and pave way towards a constructive and all inclusive dialogue to identify and resolve the root cause of the unrest. It further implored government to implement its international human rights obligations by conducting a thorough investigation; ensuring redress to victims; provision of social support systems for women and children who are orphans and vulnerable as a result of the unrest. In an interview, the TUCOSWA secretary general told the Times SUNDAY that the investigation could also assist the country’s leaders to find out  why the people acted in that manner during the civil unrest.

He said the probe could find out who died, how he or she died, what was his/her economic status and what could have driven him/her to loot? “You may find that the person who was shot dead did not have a political demand, and he just went to the shop because he was hungry. If they were to rise from the dead, they would, perhaps, say poverty drove them to the shops to loot the goods.” said Gina.


He said it was only the investigation that could assist to profile the deceased and those who were injured. The secretary general of TUCOSWA insisted that the investigation could be in the best interest of the nation. “Was it a political issue or was it a socio-economic issue? These are the critical questions that need to be answered,” he said. He went on to say it was a pity that the country’s leadership had not implemented recommendations from a Commission established by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Eswatini. “This is a body set up in terms of the Constitution. You cannot just go through its recommendations and throw them away just like that without working on them to ensure fair and just implementation,” he said. Gina said there was a statement by members of Cabinet that the people were killed by mercenaries. Such a statement, he said, remained official as government did not withdraw it. As a result, he advised that it needed to be investigated to ascertain its accuracy and veracity.


He said there was no need to wait for external organisations to advise the country to investigate circumstances that led to injuries, death and destruction of property when a local commission had said the same. “There’s nothing new that external structures would advise us to do which wasn’t said by our own Commission,” appealed the TUCOSWA secretary general. Thabile Mdluli, the Deputy Government Press Secretary, said government had seen several recommendations from various stakeholders post the June 2021 unrests, including those from the Human Rights Commission. She said recommendations, by their nature, were suggestions that are ordinarily not legally binding. However, she said, from the pool of recommendations received, government was already implementing part of what it felt best suited the current situation, while some interventions were work in progress. Mdluli said the political will was demonstrated the moment His Majesty King Mswati III announced a national dialogue. The deputy government press secretary, said it was a pity that the current violence and acts of terrorism taking place in the country rendered the environment unsuitable for a dialogue to take place at this point in time.


Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights and Public Administration, also mentioned in its report that people should be allowed to exercise their right to peaceful assembly and protest, in accordance with the Eswatini’s Constitution and international obligations. Government was urged to use all appropriate means to ensure that these rights could be exercised freely and securely, including by making sure that the safety of demonstrators was guaranteed. The Commission also urged government to ensure protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons, such as women and children. Government was advised to ensure that any restrictions on those freedoms respected the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality. It was implored to equip the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) and other security agencies with adequate material means to manage public protests as they maintained or re-established public order.

The Commission advised government to remove lethal weapons and to authorise the use of force only as a last resort and in compliance with the principles of necessity, proportionality and legality, in accordance with international standards. On the other hand, the Commission condemned the violence exhibited by the protestors and called upon, leaders and organisers of peaceful protests to –
* To publicly discourage the violent acts such as looting and destruction of properties during the exercise of their fundamental rights and promote principles of nonviolence;
* Follow the laid down lawful and legislative procedures that guide protests actions for the full protection of the law during protests;
* The commission found that human rights violations and abuses were perpetrated during the unrest. A number of people lost their lives during the civil unrest, and many people sustained injuries as a result of gunshots.


Further, the assessment indicated that lethal force was used indiscriminately on protesters and members of the public who were not even part of the protests. This is demonstrated by the death of children and women. Also, the injuries sustained by victims on the upper body such as head, abdomen, and spinal area. The protestors themselves appeared to have been violent in that some areas were rendered inaccessible by road blockages and burning of tyres. There was widespread damage, burning of properties and businesses and looting of shops. Protestors had little or no regard to the laid down procedures for protest actions as set out in the country’s legislative framework such as the Public Order Act, 2017, according to the Commission on Human Rights and Public Administration. It was reported that the majority of people arrested ere detained for unreasonably prolonged periods without trial. Even though they were eventually afforded their right to bail, the courts often imposed excessive bails and steep fines. The conclusions presented in this report only related to the preliminary findings of the Commission. It was emphasised that the information presented could not be considered to be an exhaustive list of all human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by the unrest. The Commission was of the view that these findings necessitated further investigation.

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