SADC backoffs on Eswatini Dialogue issue

His Majesty the King with Heads of State and Government at the 43rd Ordinary SADC Summit.

By Silindzelwe Nxumalo

The final SADC resolutions at the 43rd Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government was silent and made no mention on the issue of dialogue in Eswatini which has dominated previous meetings. Political commentators are of the view that His Majesty King Mswati III successfully explained the position of the Kingdom of Eswatini and further gave a clear roadmap of how the political issues will be addressed after the national elections. The analysts say the country’s efforts to restore peace and order have prevailed.

His Majesty the King has said SADC cannot expect the government of Eswatini to dialogue with terrorists. He said SADC should, instead, condemn all forms of terrorist activities wherever they exist because they cause untold suffering and result in the loss of lives. Speaking during a closed session of the SADC Troika on Thursday, the King raised concern about what appeared to be a predetermined approach to dealing with political and security issue in Eswatini. The concern arises from the fact that the report presented to Troika does not seem to take into consideration that the country had since returned to normalcy, thanks to its own efforts.

His Majesty said any assistance given to any member state must be based on the facts as they obtain on the ground rather than a dogmatic adherence to a predetermined approach. “In this way, we would be able to genuinely assist each other and not allow subjective intent to interfere with the pursuit of peace,” he said. The King said the country was appreciative of the aims and ambitions of the organ troika and was also proud of her heritage as a peace-loving nation which has structures and systems designed to protect and entrench that peace. He recalled that when the country attended the SADC Summit in August last year in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, the request made was that SADC assists Eswatini with curtailing the terrorist outbreak that had befallen the country.

“It was with great surprise that instead of assistance being given to Eswatini to curb these activities, we were effectively told that we should negotiate with the perpetrators of violence. “The question that arose in our minds was, where else in Africa, has a government been told to negotiate with terrorist entities?”
The King said emaSwati are always happy to dialogue with those they disagree with within the provisions of our constitution, but not with terrorists.
“This was a very peculiar position and one that we were, in all honesty, disappointed with. The Kingdom of Eswatini thus makes the second of our two requests and respectfully asks that we be removed from inclusion in upcoming agendas for the Troika as we too should not be held to a pre-determined process that is no longer fit for purpose,” he said.

King Mswati III with Angola President Joao Lourenco and first lady, Ana Dias Lourenco.

Speaking of the proposed national dialogue, the King said that, although the discussion of the day focused on the SADC Advisory Council (SEAC) Pre-election Assessment Mission Report, Eswatini made her position on the National Dialogue explicitly clear. “The Dialogue will take place after our national elections in conformity with our constitutional and legal dictates. Our response should therefore not be misunderstood to have been limited to a particular context. We believe, therefore, that any issue that may have arisen regarding the date for the dialogue, the form of the dialogue or the substance of that dialogue will be properly elaborated once our elections have been completed.”

He said whilst being extremely appreciative of efforts by SADC in providing the country with a draft framework, the Kingdom stands guided by the constitution on such matters. His Majesty further raised concern that the extracts from the SEAC Pre-Election Assessment Mission appear to have been selectively chosen to fit a narrative that the Kingdom was still in need of a particular form of intervention. The summit was attended by the Executive Secretary of SADC, and the Acting Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and was held in Luanda, Angola.

During this summit, the President of the Republic of Angola João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço was elected as Chairperson of SADC together with the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Dr. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, as the Incoming Chairperson of SADC. The summit noted the readiness of the Member States that would hold elections during the year, namely the Republic of Zimbabwe in August, the Kingdom of Eswatini in September, the Republic of Madagascar in November and December, the Democratic Republic of Congo in December, and South Africa in 2024 and Botswana in 2024 and wished the Member States peaceful elections. The summit also approved the appointment of Dr. Judith Kateera, a citizen of the Republic of Zimbabwe, as the new SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Corporate Affairs.

President of the Republic of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema was also elected as Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President of the United Republic of Tanzania Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan as Incoming Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. The summit also received a report from the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President of the Republic of Namibia Dr. Hage Gottfried Geingob who was commended for his outstanding leadership and continued efforts in sustaining peace and security in the region during his tenure of office.

The SADC leaders endorsed the theme of the 43rd SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government, titled “Human and Financial Capital: The Key Drivers for Sustainable Industrialisation in the SADC Region’’. It was mentioned that the theme seeks to address two of the most critical enablers in supporting regional industrialisation in the context of climate change and the 4th Industrial Revolution.

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