Catholic Peace Entity Says Arson Across Eswatini signals “very worse times lying ahead”

Protesting of the students at the entrance of the University of Swaziland. Credit: DHPI

If unaddressed, various acts of violence in Eswatini, including the torching of private and public property, signals “very worse times lying ahead”, locals have told Catholic charity foundation, Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI).

In a message shared with ACI Africa, DHPI has in turn described the situation in the Southern African country as “a ticking time bomb” that signals “a looming civil war”.

In the Wednesday, April 20 report, DHPI reports that since the political unrest in June 2021, Eswatini has not been peaceful.

“People have been killed allegedly by state securities, others have fled the country in fear of being killed, some have been arrested and others have been displaced from their families. Pro-Democracy organizations continue to put pressure on the authorities for meaningful political reforms and the total unbanning of political parties,” DHPI reports.

The Catholic peace entity adds, “On the ground tensions continue unabated. The high numbers of arson attacks being witnessed in the country on a daily basis are a ticking time bomb.”


A source who spoke to the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) expressed fear that worse times lie ahead for the country that is riddled with pockets of unrest.

 “The anger that has been building over the years, occasioned by bad governance…is beginning to find ventilation,” the source told DHPI, and added, “The silence of the people has all along been interpreted as peace. The violence on the streets, at home, in communities and just about everywhere else, is a manifestation of very worse times lying ahead.” 

An absolute monarchy led by a king, Eswatini faces a number of problems amid calls for democracy.

April 12 was a significant day for the Swazi nation. This is the day that the then King Sobhuza II repealed the 1973 Multi Party Constitution effectively banning political activities and bestowing all executive, judicial and legislative powers upon himself.

In 2005, a new era of hope was seen across the horizons of the Eswatini landscape as a new Constitution was promulgated by the late king’s son, King Mswati III.

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DHPI reports that despite having a constitution in place, the country witnessed gross human rights violations and a total disregard of the constitution.

The Constitution, DHPI says, “exists only when the powers that be deem it convenient, but otherwise it is in permanent abeyance.”

The SACBC peace entity narrates that a source working closely with King Mswati III, reported that the king allegedly issued an order to burn properties belonging to leaders of the pro-democracy movements.

DHPI makes reference to an attack that targeted a pro-democracy leader in Eswatini, and says, “Recent attacks on PUDEMO’s (People’s United Democratic Movement) Panuel Malinga, Wandile Dludlu and Ngomyayona Gamedze warned of a looming civil war.”

“Even places of safety and learning like schools are also bombed. Eswatini’s biggest tertiary institution, the University of Eswatini, has just been recently closed and all students ordered to vacate the premises immediately,” the Catholic peace entity has reported.


DHPI has asked locals in Eswatini what they think is the problem facing Swaziland, to which one local replied, “Our number one problem today is the King.”

The Catholic peace entity expresses concern that the government of Eswatini has resorted to arrests and other acts of intimidation and has no time for the much-needed dialogue.

“Instead of fast-tracking the much-awaited National Dialogue on political reform, the government continues to arrest those calling for change. This has resulted over the past 3 months in the use of guns to kill people and petrol bombs which are being used to burn structures allegedly by pro-democracy activists,” DHPI says in the April 20 report shared with ACI Africa. 

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.