24 JANUARY 2023
On 22 January 2023, we woke up to the devastating news of the passing on of Advocate Thulani Maseko, Chairperson of the Swaziland Multistakeholder Forum who was brutally murdered at his home in Eswatini.
Adv. Maseko, a prominent human rights lawyer and a fearless fighter for democracy and social justice was killed on the night of 21 January, allegedly by state hit men who shot him through a window before immediately disappearing in a getaway vehicle.
His only crime was ‘fighting for the liberation of Africa’s remaining absolute monarchy.’ The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition sends its heartfelt condolences to the Maseko family, comrades and friends. May His Soul Rest in Eternal Peace.
Adv. Maseko has long been a target of the Eswatini authorities. We recall that in 2014, he was arbitrarily arrested and incarcerated for two years for raising concerns about judicial independence and integrity in Eswatini. He was also part of the regional solidarity movement and was vocal in calling for the democratisation and restoration of human rights and good governance in various hotspots in the region including Zimbabwe.
Adv. Maseko was not one to back down even in the face of persistent victimisation.
Courageously, he always voiced his concern over the political and security situation in Eswatini which continues to deteriorate notably following the deadly protests that erupted in June 2021 after a decree by King Mswati III, which banned citizens from sending petitions to Parliamentarians to demand democratic reforms. The King unleashed the police and soldiers who subsequently shot and killed dozens of civilians and damaged infrastructure. Another surge of violence was reported in October 2021.
A Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediated National Political Dialogue process has not managed to yield any tangible results. Instead the King has reportedly threatened pro-democrats with more violence. We have no reason to doubt that that is how Maseko met his fatal fate.
We strongly reiterate our call to the government of Eswatini to disband the structures of violence it created, as these continue to cause untold suffering and perpetuate an atmosphere of fear and despondency within the Eswatini and the broader Southern Africa community.
We call upon the authorities in Eswatini to uphold constitutionalism and respect the sanctity of life by adhering to the principles of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, of which Eswatini is a signatory. We hold the Mswati regime accountable for this heinous crime and therefore call for the political and economic isolation of the Tinkudla regime.
We also urge SADC to immediately facilitate an independent judicial investigation into the murder of Adv Maseko and ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly brought to book without fear or favour.
We also implore SADC to urgently facilitate a people centred, comprehensive and genuine national dialogue to ensure a permanent solution to the political crisis in Eswatini.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition -
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition - Director
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