Swaziland's Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini has banned all protests in the kingdom.
As demonstrations started across the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, the PM warned that national security agents have been instructed to act against the protesters.
Mass demonstrations for democratic reform are planned for today until the weekend in Swaziland where all political parties and opposition groups are banned. Dlamini himself is unelected and was directed appointed Prime Minister by the king.
In an official statement the Prime Minister deemed the protests to be 'unlawful'.
He said, 'The public should be aware that no person, persons or organisation has made an application to match or picket in terms of the law.' He added that the Swazi Government would not allow 'any march/strike that will be held outside the confines of the law'.
He added, 'All protest actions, therefore, must conform to the provisions of the law. No illegal protest action will be allowed to take place as announced by certain individuals anytime and anywhere in the country, including this week.
'National security agents have been instructed to protect life and property.'
Public service unions were barred by the Industrial Court on Tuesday from taking part in strike action and mass protests, but workers' leaders said they intended to defy the ban and march today (12 April 2102).
In a separate statement Percy Simelane, the official government spokesperson, said, 'We shall deal with all those who will want to defy the law. The Industrial Court stopped any form of protests and we therefore do not expect any protest.'
He told journalists, 'We can promise them now that those who will attempt to defy the ruling will be dealt with harshly.'
People will not be allowed to walk in groups of three or more, he said.
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