Mobile operator MTN is being sued in Eswatini for cutting off Internet connectivity amid violent protests it the kingdom.
This follows MTN’s announcement earlier this week that it was experiencing disruption of services in Eswatini amid violent protests in the kingdom.
The Kingdom of Eswatini saw waves of protests and looting this week, attributed to a campaign targeting King Mswati III, amid calls for his removal.
Eswatini is one of the few remaining absolute monarchies worldwide, and the only one in Africa.
According to reports this week, protesters looted trucks carting goods from South Africa, blocked roads with burning barricades and set supermarkets on fire, according to witnesses and images circulated via social media and WhatsApp groups.
News24 reports that the government of Eswatini has called in the army to restore order after days of violent protests against its absolute monarch, the acting prime minister said on Thursday.
It says Mswati’s detractors accuse him of being an autocrat – a charge he denies – and of using a poor country’s public money to fund a luxurious lifestyle spread over several palaces housing himself and his 15 wives.
In a statement this afternoon, the telco says: MTN Group can confirm that MTN Eswatini has been cited as one of several respondents in an urgent court application in Eswatini which seeks, among other measures, the immediate restoration of Internet services in the country”.
According to the company, the application follows a directive on 29 June 2021 from the Eswatini Communications Commission to MTN Eswatini and other operators to suspend access to social media and online platforms until further notice.
It says after carefully assessing the directive, and in line with its licence conditions and the group’s digital human rights due diligence framework, MTN Eswatini implemented the directive.
“MTN Eswatini continues to engage with relevant stakeholders to limit the duration of the service disruption and is reviewing the details of the court application in consultation with its advisers,” says the mobile operator.
“MTN Group is committed to respecting human rights and endeavours to protect the rights of all people who use our services in the jurisdictions in which we operate in accordance with globally defined standards.
“Our approach to digital human rights is underpinned by a sound policy and due diligence framework and is managed through multi-disciplinary teams across our markets.”