Amnesty International on Thursday asked Eswatini authorities to drop “trumped-up charges” against two members of parliament, Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube, ahead of a bail hearing on July 29 at the Mbabane High Court.
Mabuza and Dube are facing charges under the Suppression of Terrorism Act and contravening Covid-19 regulations.
“The charges against Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube are an absolute fabrication and must be dropped. They have committed no crime and have been targeted by the government solely for their political views,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa. “Both MPs are victims of a political witch-hunt which is designed to silence any voice that is demanding political reforms and human rights amid pro-democracy protests that have erupted in the country.”
Muchena urged Eswatini authorities to “stop targeting pro-democracy activists and listen to their genuine grievances and find a sustainable solution to the protests that have gripped the country. With pro-democracy protests continuing, authorities must exercise restraint. All peaceful political activists arrested in the context of the pro-democracy protests must be released.”
The two MP’s were arrested on the evening of July 25, 2021, and have been in detention at Mbabane police station after the country experienced sustained “pro-democracy” protests.
Amnesty International said the charges against the two “have been vaguely defined as having committed the crime of “Suppression of Terrorism Act”, without specific charges being laid out.”
“Pro-democracy” protests started in June in the Kingdom of Eswatini following the mysterious death of 25-year-old law student, Thabani Nkomonye. He allegedly died at the hands of the police.
Since the start of protests demanding political reforms the government of Eswatini has launched a ruthless crackdown on human rights. Dozens have been killed and many others tortured, detained or abducted.
Journalists, human rights defenders and political activists have been jailed under repressive laws, including the 1938 Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA Act) and the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA), simply for speaking out against the repression of dissent.
Political activism has been suppressed for years in the Kingdom of Eswatini, where King Mswati III, rules as Africa’s last absolute monarch.