Africa’s last absolute monarch, King Mswati III of eSwatini, has fled the country amid pro-democracy demonstrations which turned chaotic following the government’s ban on protests.
For several days now, pro-democracy protests have been holding across at least 10 locations in eSwatini. Police had reportedly teargassed protesters and used live rounds in an attempt to disperse protesters, leading to injuries.
Since 1973, the monarchy has outlawed political parties and rules the country as an absolute monarch. He appoints the Prime Minister, ministers, judges and civil servants. The protesters have been demanding far-reaching political reforms and wish to elect their own political representatives and Prime Minister.
The government’s ban on protests was restated last Thursday with the National Police Commissioner giving out the warning that breaches of the ban would be crushed with maximum force.
On Saturday, Mangaliso Nkwanyana, one of King Mswati’s bodyguard supporting the pro-democracy protests was arrested by police.
Police officers who were shooting teargas canisters and live ammunition at protesters noticed that there were members of the security forces among those leading the protest and started retreating thinking the officers were armed.
King Mswati III Makhosetive Dlamini has been criticised for his extravagant lifestyle and alleged human rights violations. He was selected to King at the age of 14 and he was crowned shortly after his 18th birthday in 1986. He is married to 15 wives and has 23 children.
His fleet includes 20 Mercedes Maybach Pullman, a Maybach 62, and a BMW X6. The King of Eswatini also has his own private jets for his personal use along with his own airport.
In 2019, President of PUDEMO, Mlungisi Makhanya warned the monarch against the “raiding of public purse” as the country was in dire straits and the ruler risked resentment for obtaining ultra-luxury cars including120 BMWs for his family and relatives and 19 Rolls Royce luxury cars for his wives at a time students were protesting– which led to the closure of tertiary institutions in eSwatini.
The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) is a political movement committed to the creation, protection and promotion of a constitutional multi-party democracy in the country.