MBABANE, Oct 2 (Reuters) – Weekend firebomb attacks, branded as terrorism by authorities in tiny Swaziland, have raised the stakes in a long-running stuggle between sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch Mswati III and the banned opposition.
Police said a firebomb exploded in the Swazi National Court building in the capital Mbabane late on Friday night, hours after a similar attack on the home of government spokesman Percy Simelane in another part of the city. No one was hurt.
Police blamed the attack on the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), saying a party pamphlet had been found at the court, but the party denied involvement.
A number of people I have spoken with have feared this sort of violence beginning. The police are pointing toward the political opposition as the source of this attack based on a pamphlet they found near the scene. I don’t know that until an investigation is completed, it’s realistic to draw a conclusion. It may have been misguided members of the opposition. But there have certainly been moments in world history where governments have tried to unite support behind them by staging an incident and then blaming the incident on “dissident elements in the nation.” The opposition party has denied any involvement.
Lots of folks were worried about an increase in violence in Swaziland. The crushing poverty and the health crisis facing the nation make it fertile ground for extremists. Luckily to this point no such groups have arisen. I pray that this is not the start.