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2 Eswatini Lawmakers Facing Terrorism Charges Over Pro-democracy Protests

FILE: Firefighters extinguish a fire at a supermarket in Manzini, Eswatini, on June 30, 2021. (Photo by - / AFP)
FILE: Firefighters extinguish a fire at a supermarket in Manzini, Eswatini, on June 30, 2021. (Photo by - / AFP)

James Butty

Two Members of Parliament, Bacede Mabuza and Mathandeni Dube of Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, remain behind bars, and another is on the run for their role in what the police call acts of criminality and violations of the law during recent violent pro-democracy protests.

The MPs are charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008. They were arrested while on their way to present a resolution to parliament, on behalf of the people, to amend the constitution to allow the people to have a say in the election of their prime minister.

Thulani Maseko, a lawyer for the two jailed members of parliament and another, Mduduzi Simelane, who is on the run, says the judge on Tuesday postponed again a bail hearing for the two jailed MPs after the government had denied them bail.

He says his clients feel King Mswati III’s government might be manipulating the case to frustrate the jailed MPs.

Thulani says Judge Mumcy Dlamini raised a new issue on Tuesday when she told the defense to convince her why she should hear their bail application. He says the judge seems to believe that the second bail application should be heard by the Supreme Court.

Thulani says the judge hopes to rule on the bail application September 14.

In Uganda, an opposition member of parliament for the party of Robert Kyagulanyi, widely known as Bobi Wine, says the party is busy trying to do the work for which its members were elected, while President Yowere Museveni, having run out of ideas, is busy coming up with trumped up criminal charges against members of Wine’s National Unity Party.

Joel Ssenyonyi says President Museveni sees Bobi Wine as the only threat to his administration, and is therefore making up allegations just as the administration did to Dr. Kizza Besigye on several occasions when Besigye was the main opposition leader. He says the Museveni government also brought treason charges against Bobi Wine in 2018.

This comes after a Magistrate’s Court Tuesday charged two members of parliament from Bobi Wine’s party with murder and attempted murder for their roles in the recent wave of killings of closed to 30 people in Uganda’s Masaka sub-region. Prosecutors say the two MPs had planning meetings prior to the alleged murders.

Ssenyonyi tells VOA’s James Butty the party is not worried because such charges will turn out to be false. Wine’s party won closed to 60 parliamentary seats in the 2020 election.

Ssenyonyi says the party is busy doing what a political party should be doing like building hospitals and schools and buying medicines for hospitals.