Eswatini Lawyers Sue MTN, Government over Internet Blockade

eSwatini Lawyers Sue MTN, Government over Internet Blockade

Human Rights lawyers in Eswatini have filed an urgent court interdict at the High Court for the immediate restoration of the internet, withdrawal of the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force troops in civilian areas, the immediate suspension of the curfew and the suspension of the Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku from the position of acting Prime Minister.

This comes on the heels of violent protests calling for the abolishment of the monarchy and its replacement by a democratic system of governance. 

Government Spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini acknowledged the filing of papers in court. He however said that issues in court cannot be responded to and that only the processes of the courts can provide answers, instructions and directions on what to be followed.  

“Court matters remain closed for comments because for us to respond would be sub-judice for government or anyone, hence I would advise that we wait for such a comment to come from the deliberations at the court of law,” said Dlamini.

Thulani Maseko of the Eswatini Human Rights Lawyers said their prayers were as a result of so many rights violation due to government directive to internet service providers to shut the internet.

South African cellular network giant MTN has confirmed that it has been taken to court in eSwatini to force it to restore the internet service in the country.

It said, MTN eSwatini and other cellphone operators received a directive from the eSwatini Communications Commission on 29 June to suspend access to social media and online platforms until further notice.

Eswatini Human Rights Lawyer,Thulani Maseko

MTN eSwatini said it carried on with the directive after it carefully assessed the situation in line with its license conditions and the group’s digital human rights due diligence framework.

The MTN group said in a statement on Friday, “MTN eSwatini continues to engage with relevant stakeholders to limit the duration of the service disruption and is reviewing the details of the court applications in consultation with its advisers.”

The shutdown coincided with a state-imposed curfew, and the closure of schools and universities.

By following the government’s instruction, Lawyers said the MTN Group was “complicit” in the political crisis.

Eswatini’s Information Minister, Sikhanyiso Dlamini

The internet shut down in eSwatini since Tuesday created a communications blackout in the country.

At the start of the blackouts MTN Eswatini said to its customers: “Dear valued customer MTN regrets the internet service interruption. We are engaging stakeholders to restore internet connectivity.”

On her part, Sikhanyiso Dlamini who is the King’s daughter and Eswatini’s Information Minister claimed on BBCAfrica that the people protesting are “foreign mercenaries”
The King’s daughter is also a board member of MTN-Eswatini!

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