By Sifiso Sibandze
Almost all business operations in Mbabane City were severely affected on Tuesday as they were compelled to close their businesses in fear of looting and torching of their businesses by the pro-democracy movement members.
This comes as they would be marching to the High Court, demanding the release of incarcerated Members of Parliament, Mthandeni Dube and Bacede Mabuza.
They were arrested in June 2021 on terrorism charges. From roadside vendors, retailers, and bankers to public transport operators and restaurateurs were all forced to shut their doors as fear of the unknown gripped them.
From a random tour of the capital city from 6:45 am – 7:30 am, one noted that almost all retail shops (furniture shops, clothing shops and grocery shops) were closed. Notably, all the city’s shopping precincts (Swazi Plaza, Corporate Place and The Mall Emphalwini and The New Mall) were all closed at the time this publication travelled around the city.
A larger number of roadside vendors along almost all the city streets did not go to their stations to sell their produce. Only a few were seen displaying their wares in anticipation that customers would come and buy.
Outstandingly, people who were going to work were forced to walk or hitchhike, mostly those who were destined for Manzini. Those living around town were seen walking to their different destinations.
In a bid to prevent the unknown from happening, the government has deployed joint security agents (police, the army and correctional services personnel) to ensure public safety. Conspicuously, there were roadblocks at all entry points into the city manned by the army. Some members of the army were strategically stationed at some government offices.
The National Commissioner of Police William Tsintsibala Dlamini has categorically stated that Tuesday’s proposed march was unlawful because the pro-democracy movement don’t have any instrument allowing them to engage in the protest.
The National Commissioner said that minimal force would be used on those found harassing people going to work.