Eswatini (MNN) — Authorities promise “national dialogue,” but opposition leaders and analysts fear further violence in Eswatini. Statistics are difficult to find, but some locals tell media outlets at least 40 people have been killed so far.
Unrest has been building for weeks in Africa’s last remaining monarchy, formerly known as Swaziland. Protests began in May following the death of a law student, allegedly at the hands of police. The movement grew and expanded in June, escalating last week with fatalities, sporadic arson, and looting.
“There were a lot of burnings that happened; attacks on people, innocent people. People were also blocked along the way; they couldn’t drive to reach homes and some [were] exposed to danger,” Sphiwe* with TransWorld Radio says.
Today, “this unstable situation has continued. The marching in the streets and attacks on the shops [have] gone down a bit. But every area of shops … is heavily guarded by the army … and there are many roadblocks,” Sphiwe says.
“There’s a curfew in place, and shops have been instructed to close at 3 pm. If you are on the road after 6 pm, it’s quite risky because you never know what could happen.”
TWR has a station and transmitters in Eswatini; it’s one of their primary ministry “hubs” in southern Africa. A nationwide Internet shutdown threatens their work. “TWR’s main service provider [of] the internet was completely shut down several times, often just blocked on international traffic,” Sphiwe says.
“TWR has tried to continue their work. However, if this is also blocked, we will not be able to send content. We depend a lot on the Internet to send content to our transmitter site here in Eswatini and to the different areas we broadcast.”
The people of Eswatini struggle to get by, while rulers of the monarchy live in luxury. Pray TWR can continue broadcasting the hope of Christ during these tumultuous times, Sphiwe requests.
“We want to ask you to pray that by God’s grace and His miracle, our connection to the world will not be interrupted so that we can continue sending hope that people need at this time.”
Ask the Lord to protect His followers in Eswatini. “There’s so much uncertainty that sometimes even the staff don’t know whether they will get home or will not get home,” Sphiwe says.
“Some of our missionaries [are] traveling back… some of them are here in Eswatini and have left their loved ones… pray that we can continuously be safe.”
Header image is a representative 2015 photo of police at work in Eswatini. (Wikimedia Commons)