Eswatini shuts schools as student protests escalate

Monday October 18 2021
Eswatini protests

A burning barricade in Mbabane, Eswatini on June 29, 2021 during anti-King Mswati protest. PHOTO | AFP


The Eswatini government has closed all schools as the crisis in Africa’s last absolute monarchy deepens amid pro-democracy protests.

The move by the government to shut schools “indefinitely” comes after weeks of sustained protests by school children as they boycotted classes.

Learners have been demanding quality learning equipment, free education and improved learning conditions.

They have also joined nationwide pro-democracy protests, calling for the abolishment of the monarchical rule and want all political prisoners released, including two parliamentarians who were arrested earlier this year.

Public transport remained at a standstill on Sunday in Eswatini was rocked by a wave of pro-democracy demonstrations.

Private taxi and commuter bus operators calling for the release of two pro-democracy lawmakers pledged to continue a transport shutdown until their demands were met.


The shutdown over the past week has seen people forced to walk between towns and businesses closed because employees cannot get to work.

After a meeting on Sunday, transport operators made it clear services would not resume unless King Mswati agreed to release MPs Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube, detained during pro-democracy protests earlier this year, said transport association (SACAWU) secretary Sticks Nkhambule.

At least 28 people have died as police clashed with protesters in some of the worst unrest in the southern African country's history. The latest fatality came on Wednesday.

Unions, opposition parties, student groups and private commuter bus operators have all joined the latest protests over the past two weeks.

King Mswati III has ruled Eswatini since 1986 and owns shares in all of the country's telecoms.

He is criticised for living a lavish lifestyle in one of the world's poorest countries and is also accused of stifling political parties.

The king has accused demonstrators of depriving children of their education by taking part in the protests.