COSATU Statement on SACU Summit at eSwatini – Call for end to subsidisation of the Swazi royal family and prioritisation of industrial development, jobs and democracy in Southern Africa

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes the visit of the President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, to the Kingdom of eSwatini to attend the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Heads of States and Government Summit held under the theme of “SACU Industrialisation Opportunities through improving Economic Complexity”.

The Summit shall engage on SACU’s Strategic Plan 2022-2027, as this is its first year of progress review as it was adopted at the 7th Summit.   SACU is the oldest Customs Union in the world, established in 1910 and with a controversial history of being used by then apartheid regime in South Africa as a tool to compel neighbouring states to collaborate with it against the liberation movements.  Its members states are South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and eSwatini.

The eSwatini regime, one of the few unelected governments in the region, is amongst the major beneficiaries of this customs union with a large portion of its budget funded by it and hence sustaining its ability to remain in power and to continue to stifle its oppressed citizens’ desires for democracy. 

COSATU, an affiliate of the Southern African Trade Union Coordinating Council, calls for a fundamental review of the design of the customs union.  Its revenue needs to be directed towards investments in the economic development of its member states, and in the case of eSwatini ringfenced from propping up an aging and outdated absolute monarch whose regime has been accused of having the blood of its citizens on its hands.

COSATU calls on President Ramaphosa and all SACU heads of states to act decisively towards the affirmation of the fundamental rights of the people of eSwatini and to hold its government accountable for the gross violations of citizens’ rights and to compel it to work with democratic movement in eSwatini towards a democratic dispensation.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687