Press release July 26, 2021
Eswatini: Authorities Should Release Parliamentarians and Drop Charges Against Them
The three parliamentarians charged are at the forefront of demanding a return to constitutional democracy in Eswatini.
In response to the arrest of two members of parliament in Eswatini and the issuing of an arrest warrant against a third parliamentarian, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The arrest of the parliamentarians is the latest instance of the Eswatini government’s ongoing crackdown on political dissent and the rights to free expression and association,” said Tiseke Kasambala, chief of party for Freedom House’s Advancing Rights in Southern Africa program. “The Eswatini government must drop all charges and immediately release them. The continued arrest and harassment of those who oppose the Eswatini authorities’ repressive tactics underscores the need for political reforms in the country.”
Mthandeni Dube, member of parliament for Ngwempisi constituency, and Bacede Mabuza, member of parliament for the Hosea constituency, were arrested on July 25 and charged with terrorism and breaching COVID-19 regulations. The two were remanded into custody until August 2. Police also issued an arrest warrant for a third parliamentarian, Mduduzi Magawugawu Simelane of Siphofaneni constituency.
The recent spate of arrests comes in the aftermath of widespread protests at which thousands of people took to the streets demanding political reforms and democratic freedoms. In response, security forces reportedly shot and killed over 60 people, injured scores more, and arrested hundreds of others.
The three parliamentarians have been at the forefront of demanding a return to constitutional democracy in Eswatini, an absolute monarchy ruled by King Mswati III, who has led the country for over 30 years. Political parties are not legally recognized and are banned from contesting elections.
Eswatini is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World.
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