NUMSA commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Revolution

Labour keeps up pressure for democracy in Swaziland

12 September 2012, Posted in Campaigns

Despite demobilization efforts of the Swaziland government, labour together with student bodies and civil society in the country pushed on with calls for multiparty democratic elections during the Global Week of Action on Swaziland, 3 to 7 September.

“We appreciate the messages of support from organizations globally and those that have come to be with us, particularly from labour.

Says Frank Mcina, General Secretary of Swaziland Amalgamated Trade Union. “Comrades from South Africa in Cosatu, especially Numsa have stood by our side here in Swaziland, working alongside us in our struggle.”

“There is no way we will abandon this,” says Mcina, expressing a commitment shared by most unionists in Swaziland.

“We will continue with pressure until the regime recognizes that people have the right to speak and we regain our rights, including the fundamental labour right of freedom of association.”

Swaziland, one of the world’s last absolute monarchies, is a country in crisis. For almost 40 years the Swazi people have been subjected to a state of emergency, which has entrenched a repressive state through all levels of government.

In recent years, a deepening economic crisis has pushed most Swazi people into absolute poverty.

The health care system is on the brink of collapse which is especially critical given that 25 per cent of the population is living with HIV.
The public sector is in disarray due to lack of funding and government struggles to meet the payroll.

Meanwhile, the Royal family continues to live a lavish lifestyle and king Mswati III is accused by the Swaziland Democracy Campaign of looting the economy.

Mswati has maintained control through an oppressive regime, with ever increasing human and trade union rights abuses.

Political parties are banned and activists are regularly arrested, imprisoned and tortured.

Labour has been at the forefront of calling for change and is viewed as a threat by the regime.

The recently formed Trade Union Confederation of Swaziland (Tucoswa), uniting organized labour in the country, has come under attack from the government.

The new federation, which at first the Swazi government publically congratulated labour on its formation, is now not recognized by the government.

Labour argues this is unfounded as all procedures were correctly followed.

Labour sought unsuccessfully to urgently challenge Tucoswa’s deregistration prior to the global week of action but the court deferred this to the Labour Advisory Board, interpreted by labour as a delaying tactic, designed to demobilize the planned actions.

Tucoswa affiliates that attempted to mobilize actions as individual unions were not granted permission.

Actions that were able to get off the ground were subjected to police brutality with beatings and arrests.

Other actions were demobilized by police turning back buses as well as intimidating and arresting protestors.

Tension grew throughout the week and organizers cancelled the main protest action planned for Friday, not wanting to put protestors in harms way as security forces made it clear that they were prepared to repress the action.

Organizers were able to successfully hold a People’s Summit despite attempts by police to disrupt the meeting and threatening to arrest leaders.

The summit was attended by more than a thousand people despite heavy rains and sought to chart a way forward for a New Democratic Swaziland.

" Adapted from an article that can be found on IndustriALL Global Union website at http://www.industriall-union.org/labour-keeps-up-pressure-for-democracy-in-swaziland "