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Towards the end of registration for 2023 National Elections,  there was a mad rush to register, which led to the EBC extending the registration process by three days.

The government spokesperson was quoted as having said it was a ‘record registration’  and further said that ‘people love Tinkhundla’. Of course this was directed to those in the progressive camp who called for the boycott of elections.  If the ‘record’ registration is indeed the will of the people, congratulations are in order for the Elections and Boundaries Commission.  However, what obtains on the ground is intimidation and threats that were directed to citizens who were threatened that they will not enjoy services, of which they are entitled as citizens and taxpayers. Young people in particular were threatened not to be awarded with scholarships and hence parents had to encourage their children to register.  I got a call from a respected senior citizen who was attending a funeral where in that funeral a traditional leader announced that people in that area should register or they will be seen to be fighting the King.  He said people murmured at this weird announcement, communicated, where family and community were mourning the death of their loved one.  The old man was expressing his disgust that in the electoral law it was a crime to threaten people during election process.  He asked “Is it not a crime to threaten people to go register or else they will be consequences?”.   

It is a pity that those who monitor elections only come to monitor voting, not the whole process,  to record such nefarious practices.  The government spokesperson  and those in authority may gloat but the stark reality is that   people are not happy because elections in Eswatini is not about electing a government that will change people’s lives. As we near the end of June, let us reflect on challenges facing children in Eswatini including cyberbullying,  online predators and exposure to dangerous material including pornographic material. There is a need for priority to be given to the right to protection from harm and safety online for children in light of the high number with access to internet.


It is essential that the government should provide essential safeguards for children from these dangers.  This requires broad collaboration between government, civil society organisations and the private sector particularly the service providers to have robust policies and regulations that prioritise child protection from online harm.  Parents also have critical role to play in ensuring that children understand the internet dangers   and opportunities. The other important event I would like to  also comment about is The Day of the African Child which was instituted in 1991 by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the  African Union  in memory of the June 16, 1976 student uprising in Soweto. At that time, students marched to protest against being taught in Afrikaans and  demanded to be taught in their languages. During the protest hundreds of school children were killed.

The Day of the African Child is celebrated to commemorate these children and the brave action they took to defend their rights.  This day also inspire children and young people to advocate for their rights. The theme for the Day of the African Child (DAC) 2023 was titled “The Rights of the Child in the digital environment. The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy   noted the following “we encourage all stakeholders, especially policymakers to enact and amend laws to protect the rights of children in the digital space, especially on social media. We also advocate for more opportunities in the African continent, in promoting digital access, diversity, inclusivity and security”


Another notable event was the  Freedom of Expression Summit  held at the George Hotel on June 15, 2023 and was  hosted by the Campaign for Free Expression  in partnership with the Canadian High Commission, the UK High Commission, CANGO,  and the United Nations in Eswatini. the event brought together  diverse civil society groups  including NGOs,  political parties,  Church, academia, media  and Mangololo.  It is such events that contributes to national dialogue, peace building and common understanding among diverse Emaswati. Freedom of expression is an important human right which is essential for a society to be democratic. It enables the free exchange of ideas, opinions and information and thus allows members of society to form their own opinions on issues of public importance. Freedom of expression is at the center of all the  rights  be it right to life, education, information, food, health  association and freedom to assemble to mention a few. The summit discussed a number of challenges that emaSwati face with regards to freedom of expression, including constraints  media face to perform their duties.