The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) strongly denounces and rebukes the manner in which Swaziland police have dealt with the strike action of Public Sector Associations and unions on Wednesday 2nd October 2019. The peaceful workers’ protest turned into a battlefield when King Mswati once again set his gladiatorial “trigger happy” police force on unarmed civilians in the city of Manzini. Live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas were opened on 8000 workers who were demonstrating, as part of the public servants’ strike for an increase in cost-of-living salary payments.
COSATU stands with the public sector workers of Swaziland in their strike action, and encourages them to continue to push forward, and fight for what rightfully belongs to them. The Federation further urges the government of Swaziland to allow workers to demonstrate and exercise their right as stipulated in ILO Convention 87, which recognises the “right to strike”. The demand for a 7.85 per cent cost of living adjustment (CoLA) is legit, and their patience has gone on for well over three years – with no negotiated restitution. We speak against this continuous subjection of workers to appalling exploitation at the hands of their government. Workers are hungry – and justifiably angry.
The multiple demonstrations of workers this year alone are beyond indicative of a nation that is tired of being complacent and silenced by threats of death, serious injury, and torture. Though we are not astounded by this violent response by the government’s police – it is a sign that the Mswati regime is becoming desperate and will do anything to cling to power.
COSATU continues to wage its unwavering solidarity with all the workers of Swaziland, and calls on regional and continental intergovernmental bodies including SADC and the AU, to stop pretending as though all is normal and well-functioning in the country. Whilst the sovereignty of all states should be respected, we cannot continue to be fed the non-existent realities of this death trap called a “monarchical democracy” in Swaziland ravaged by systemic social problems. In the past week COSATU affiliate NEHAWU (in Mpumalanga) blocked the Mahamba and Matsamo border posts in solidarity with the striking public servants, and COSATU will continue to lead and participate in similar border blockades in the coming few days.
Sonia Mabunda-Kaziboni (Cde) | International Secretary
Cosatu Head Office
Tel: 011 339 4911