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SADC WANTS DIALOGUE PROGRESS REPORT FROM ESWATINI

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MBABANE – The SADC Secretariat, in consultation with the Government of Eswatini, has been urged to present a progress report on the implementation of the national dialogue at the next Organ Troika Summit in August 2023.

This was reportedly discussed during the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ, (EO–MCO) held on November 30, 2022 in Windhoek, Namibia. The summit was chaired by Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of Namibia.

According to records of the meeting that this publication was privy, to  the EO–MCO urged the Government of Eswatini to submit to the next extraordinary Organ Troika Summit its comprehensive position on the draft framework for the national dialogue, with counter-proposals and timelines to be determined in consultation with emaSwati in accordance with the Constitution of the kingdom.

The EO–MCO also urged all stakeholders to remain calm and participate peacefully in the national dialogue. It commended the Chairperson of the Organ, President Hage Geingob, for his leadership in SADC as well as his efforts in finding lasting solutions to the challenges faced by the kingdom.

Clear

The EO-MCO noted that, in response to the civil unrest that took place in late June 2021, certain initiatives were undertaken in Eswatini, with a view to assist the organ to obtain a clear understanding of the prevailing political and security situation. These initiatives included the dispatching of the SADC Organ Troika Ministerial Fact-Finding Mission to the kingdom, on July 4, 2021; of the Organ Troika Technical Fact-Finding Mission deployed from July 15-22, 2021; the Mission of Special Envoy of Organ Chairperson, October 21-22, 2021; and, following an escalation in the disturbances, the then Chairperson of the Organ President Cyril Ramaphosa made a Working Visit in November 2021.

The EO-MCO also noted that the initiatives involved extensive consultations with stakeholders from government, political organisations, civil society organisations, businesses, labour, academia, and religious bodies, in order to obtain an understanding of the root causes of the civil unrest and design appropriate recommendations.

Further input was received from civil society organisations through various letters addressed to the Chairperson of the Organ. The EO-MCO further noted that the Organ Troika Technical Fact-Finding Mission deployed from July 15-22, 2021, bearing in mind the natural necessity and the supremacy of domestic interventions, as well as the need for the country to own its future direction, recommended certain consideration by the Government of Eswatini.
One of these was the restoration of  the traditional linkages between the constituency centres (tinkhundla) and the community to enable the people to engage with their constituency leaders.

Another recommendation was to clearly articulating the steps that had been taken, and being taken, to address the suspicions regarding the death of a university student (Thabani Nkomonye), and the subsequent deaths and injuries sustained during the disturbances.It was also recommended that there was a need for setting clear time frames and the process for the conduct of independent inquiries into the deaths and injuries resulting from the disturbances; opening up Parliament to allow for deliberations on the situation and to allow for ordinary business of Parliament to proceed.

Another recommendation was on taking immediate measures to restore police-community relations at the local level. These may include police leadership interacting with the local communities at meetings, specifically aimed at rebuilding trust.

Inclusive

Meanwhile, Government Spokesperson Alpheous Nxumalo said the much anticipated national dialogue would be all inclusive. Nxumalo was responding to this publication when asked about the recommendation of SADC that in the interests of inclusive dialogue, consideration be given to the participation of proscribed organisations.

Nxumalo said every national dialogue that had been conducted in the past had been inclusive. He also said to provide a presentation of any report of any kind, shape and nature, was not a directive. He said presentation of a report did not also by necessity, be about the national dialogue having been convened. He said it could also be a report about why the national dialogue had not been convened.

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