By Andile Nsibande | 2021-07-02
Mbabane - FOLLOWING a tumultuous Saturday where protesters attempted to invade the acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku’s residence, acting KoNtshingila Chief Gelane Zwane has called for calm and tolerance.
The former Senate president described the unrest that broke out across the country, including Masuku’s home area of Lawuba, which is under the former Senate president’s traditional jurisdiction, as heart-breaking.
She said it did not reflect the values we share as a nation. However, Zwane noted that the behaviour demonstrated by the protesters indicated that something was frustrating young people in the country.
She said the change in tone among the youthful groups that are demonstrating countrywide may as well serve as a call for those in leadership to consider opening up to dialogue.
Zwane said there were no doubts that systematic issues needs to be addressed before the whole country is further thrown into turmoil.
The traditional leader was of the opinion that young people should be allowed to share their hopes and expectations of tomorrow. But she was quick to denounce the violence that erupted in some places.
“Violence does not solve anything,” she emphasised. In her observation, the behaviour displayed by the youth could be an expression of how they feel they ought to be governed.
“It has all along been said that at some point people would be allowed to revise the laws of the country on issues of governance.
Maybe that time has arrived. “The future of the country is in the hands of the young people. For us, we have played our part and we are grown up now; we may leave anytime. So, it is up to them to ensure that the country does not degenerate into something that will make us a laughing stock to the outside world. People are watching what is happening,” she said.
The former legislator then reminded the youth about the importance of exercising patience. She said the kind of edginess and anger that was witnessed in the country has the potential of throwing the country deep into an abyss of economic strife.
At Lawuba, the protesters wanted to meet the acting PM, who was at his other residence which is situated in the area, allegedly to engage him about the stance taken by government over the ongoing delivery of petitions at constituency centres countrywide.
The attitude of government in relation to the protest somehow stoked the youthful demonstrators to engage in another tone to attract the attention of those in authority. The attempt to invade Masuku’s home was, however, prevented by the police.
This resulted in the protesters burning vegetation surrounding the Masuku residence and also around the nearby Embangweni Royal Kraal, which falls under Zwane’s jurisdiction of KoNtshingila. However, residents said the acting PM was able to leave the area without being harmed.
Attempts to ascertain his condition were fruitless as his phone rang unanswered yesterday. A text message was also sent to him, but it had not been responded to at the time of going to print.
The protests that broke out across the country seemingly fuelled an ongoing conversation about police brutality and political reforms in the country. Previous protest marches had been calm and the protesters spoke of their frustration over being led by an unelected prime minister among a litany of many grievances.
The issue of the elected PM had been foremost, with other grievances becoming only ancillary. The manner in which the protests quickly escalated into a national occurrence reflected long standing frustrations and rage by communities.
But the peaceful marches devolved to violence over the weekend as people burned commercial vehicles and further looted businesses.
A quick solution seemed unlikely when the protesters vowed to continue with their demands despite the deployment of riot police. It all started when government took the decision to ban the delivery of petitions at constituency centres. Authorities argued that the protests were in violation of the Public Order Act and COVID-19 regulations.
Elsewhere in places like Siphofaneni, the protests took a nasty turn when two delivery trucks belonging to retail chain outlet Shoprite were attacked. One was set ablaze, while another was looted by agitated demonstrators.
The protestors further torched another truck that was transporting an excavator, which also caught fire. The loss incurred by affected companies is estimated to millions of Emalangeni.
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