THE government has denied claims it is sheltering under-fire King Mswati III of Eswatini, who reportedly fled his home country following violent protests in the mountainous kingdom on Monday.
This comes after protesters went on the rampage and set fire on several shops, demanding the end of the monarchy and ushering in of democratic rule.
Following reports of King Mswati fleeing his homeland, there were suggestions on social media and other online publications that he had sought refuge in Zimbabwe.
Others were also suggesting the 53-year-old monarchy, who has 15 wives and 23 children, had fled to South Africa.
However, Zimbabwe’s deputy Foreign Affairs minister David Musabayana yesterday dismissed the claims as untrue.
“We haven’t received such information from our officials. We have not been informed by our officials that we have a high-profile guest in the country, so I don’t think those rumours are true,” Musabayana said.
Meanwhile, Swaziland acting-Prime Minister Themba Masuku also denied that King Mswati had fled and appealed for calm in the country.
“Following the false media reports circulating, I would like to take this opportunity to assure emaSwati and the international community that His Majesty King Mswati III is in the country and continues to lead in working with the government to advance the kingdom’s goals.
“Government will update the nation on interventions on the current situation as the day progresses. In the meantime, we appeal for calm, restraint and peace from all emaSwati,” Masuku said in a statement.
Businesses reportedly owned by the king were torched in Matsapha.
According to a report by news website Swaziland News, quoting a leader of the ongoing pro-democracy protests, government buildings and the king’s properties were to be burnt down starting yesterday.
This was after Masuku issued an order suspending delivery of memorandums to Tinkhundla — traditional administrative subdivision districts — with immediate effect last week.
“It has become apparent that this exercise has created a breeding ground for anarchy and has been intentionally hijacked to sow seeds of division,” Masuku said in a statement.
“This is in complete disregard of public safety, the rule of law and Covid-19 regulations.
“We are alive to public concerns of lack of adequate jobs and service delivery anxieties, among others, which are by and large a global concern
“However, what we are seeing of late are elements who have hijacked these concerns to further their own agenda, mainly to shake the foundations that define this country with an intention to achieve regime change.”
Reports say the protests turned violent with police using teargas, stun grenades and water cannons to disperse stone-throwing protesters.