The Kingdom of Eswatini is a small landlocked country where 70 percent of its population is living under the poverty line. Although primary health care is free to its citizens, it is common for individuals to end up paying out of pocket for medical assistance due to the poor quality of the government subsidized health system. On the 11th of July 2023, during his national address (Sibaya) King Mswati III assured the Eswatini (Swazi) nation that issues pertaining to health care, mainly the availability of medication and health professionals in hospitals had been dealt with. However, not more than a month after the king’s assurance of quality health care, the country is facing a historic health crisis.

There is a country-wide shortage of medication in all government hospitals. This has lead individuals and invested groups into submitting petitions and holding public demonstrations. Things took a dramatic turn on the 26th of July 2023 when the patients at the country’s capital city (Mbabane) protested. Patients at Mbabane Government Hospital used their beds to barricade the hospital’s exits and started protesting demanding they be provided with medical assistance. This prompted a response from the Minister of Health, Lizzie Nkosi, who rushed to Mbabane Government Hospital on the same day (Wednesday) in the afternoon shortly after the patients staged the protest. The Minister addressed the protesting patients and asked them to be patient while her department worked on the issue of providing medication.

Government officials along with King Mswati III have been criticized for the low standards in government hospitals. Most say the government intentionally neglect public health facilities as none of them have to experience such substandard health care. Criticism over the health care crisis was intensified on the 25th of July 2023 when King Mswati's senior wife Sibonelo Mngomezulu, known as Inkhosikati Lambikiza, was reported to be seriously ill and had to be rushed to an undisclosed private Hospital in South Africa.

In response Nkosing’phile Seyama, the Secretary General of the Swazis First Democratic Front (SFDF) released a statement criticizing King Mswati’s regime for the escalating health crisis in the country. “The SFDF is shocked by the current prevailing health care situation in Swaziland. Swazis remain a nation without a democratic system and the inhumane activities displayed by a nation heading towards the deep and dark corridors of disaster remains not only pathetic but uncalled for and leaderless. While Swazis remain treated as slaves and subjects to a so-called king and his regime, royalty still holds the epitome card of care and luxury. As a common phenomenon Swazis die and continuously suffer the medical atrocities of an alarming medical shortage, the king's wives enjoy the pleasure of being flown out to Netcare's South African medical health facilities,” reads the statement in part.

While some put the blame entirely on the king, it is important to note the significance corruption plays on this issue. On a yearly basis medical equipment and medication amounting to millions of Emalangeni (SZL) disappear within the public health sector. A report released by The Times of eSwatini last year (2022) September suggested that an investigation conducted by the government uncovered that private pharmacies were selling medications allegedly stolen from public hospitals.

Thula Mtsetfwa, the founder of the Kingdom of Eswatini Pharmacy Association (KEPA) however states that the blame still lies with the government for failing to investigate the alleged theft in public hospitals and called for an independent body to investigate both the public and private health institutions. "Government is shifting the focus from its failure to supply drugs in hospitals by claiming that we are stealing from them. The root cause for all these is the absence of a Pharmacy Council that would investigate the rot in both the public and private institutions”, Mtsetfwa said.



Thulane Maseko was a Swazi Human Rights lawyer who was working tirelessly to promote justice and human rights in Eswatini, the Southern African region and beyond.
On the 21st January 2023 King Mswati III warned those calling for democracy that his mercenaries would deal with them, and the evening of the very day - the 21st of January 2023 - Thulane Maseko was gunned down at close range, shot through the window of his home, in front of his family. The killing of Thulane Maseko appears to be a deliberate targeting and silencing of the lawyer and human rights defender, in direct retaliation to his legitimate work in defence of human rights.
Thulane Maseko had already been targeted in the past, he was arrested in 2014 and prosecuted and sentenced to 2 years in prison, following the publication of his opinion articles denouncing the lack of judicial independence in the country. During his detention he was subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment. The targeting continued even after Thulane Maseko was released in 2015 after he was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
Thulane Maseko continued his work, including acting as a lawyer for many human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in Eswatini. In 2021 he was one of the early legal representatives of the currently detained members of Parliament, Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube who are also subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment. Thulane was an advocate for justice and human rights. His killing is a great loss and a massive blow to the human rights movement in eSwatini and beyond.
King Mswati’s government is systematically delaying a political dialogue while assassinating political leaders and activists. Eswatini’s Monarchy is strongly opposed to political reforms and activism. Since May 2021 the Kingdom of Eswatini has been rocked by pro-democracy protests following the mysterious death of a law student Thabani Nkomonye allegedly at the hands of police.
Political activists have been suppressed for years by the Kingdom of Eswatini Government. The Tinkhundla government have used repressive laws including the 1938 Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA) and the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) to silence critics.
More and more pro-democracy activists are disappearing at the hands of police and more were shot and killed by the police. Defending human rights is not a crime. Under no circumstances should activists or human rights defenders, working for a better world be subjected to intimidations, threats, violence and murder.
Thulane Maseko must not be failed in death, and those responsible no matter who or how powerful they are, must be held responsible and accountable.
The Swazi Vigil UK will not stop protesting against the violation of human rights and the killings in Eswatini. Down with Tinkhundla government system!! VIVA Swazi Vigil UK!!✊🏾
By: Rainny Nomvula Dlamini
The assassination and brutal killing in cold blood of the people's human rights lawyer and chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF) Thulani Maseko in Swaziland on the 21st January 2023 is a clear indication of the revolt, and concerted attacks against those who embody the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Swaziland, and certainly those who stand against King Mswati's royal rule and unwaveringly continue to call for political reforms in the country. 
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) must take responsibility and concern itself with the dismal lack of strong political action to excuse its mandate of promoting peace and security in Swaziland and its refusal to decisively intervene on the inhuman injustices and merciless killings of our people. The people of Swaziland are subjected to terror and aggressive means both legal and illegal applied by King Mswati III, his government and his mercenaries as he proudly admits "Who started it".
Repeatedly, time and time again, the Mass Democratic Movement in Swaziland and non-profit organisations in around the world have reported evidence to SADC and specifically its organ TROIKA, the plight of the Swazi people under the tyranny of King Mswati III, and many have condemned and commented on it, however, SADC continues to undermine the dire situation faced by the people of Swaziland who are working for a peaceful resolve of the political transformation in the country. 
An exigency call has been made to SADC TROIKA to urgently apply the provisions of the protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, to protect and safeguard the Swazi people against the rising insecurity caused by the regime. 
The killing of Thulani Maseko is immoral, unjust, intolerable and has sparked fury in the nation. Thulani Maseko was not killed for what he did but what he stood for, a struggle for the peaceful removal of oppression and for the establishment of a just society in his country. 
To King Mswati III, as you continue to present the people of Swaziland as wild dangerous  revolutionaries, intent on disorder and riot, incapable of being dealt with in any other way but be killed, remember, no one, not even you and can stop an idea whose time has come. Your crimes against Emaswati are many and they will not disappear. The blood of our people on your hands will not be vain.
The people have resolved against your (Mswati) royal rule, and you will not shut the Swazi people with such stupid acts. Freedom will rain in our land and the people will govern. 
By: Thulile Dlamini