Swaziland’s labour unions want him to recant and withdraw his statement that has made headlines across the world.
Dlamini said he wanted to use ‘Sipakatane’ otherwise known as ‘bastinado’, a form of torture that involves flogging the bare soles of a person’s feet with a spiked wooden or metal implement to temporarily or permanently cripple them, on dissidents and foreigners who supported democracy in Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Union leaders say this statement amounts to a ‘declaration of war against foreigners as well as Swazis’.
The Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily newspaper, quoted Mduduzi Gina, Secretary General of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU), saying the torture will be used on those fighting for people’s rights.
Dlamini had been annoyed that trade unionists from South Africa had visited Swaziland this week to show solidarity with Swazis fighting for their human rights as part of the Global Day of Action for democracy in Swaziland.
Gina said Dlamini’s statement was ‘a clear indication of war against citizens of other countries. We request the prime minister to withdraw the statement for peace to prevail in the region and to allow government to work in peace with civil society organisations in the region.’
The Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL) said Dlamini’s statement was not going to help the kingdom in any way and described it as ‘cheap talk’.
‘What law did we break by enlisting people from outside? He should say which law we broke instead of threatening us,’ SFL Secretary-General Vincent Ncongwane said.
He said the PM took advantage of his access to the media to issue a statement that he would not repeat to the outside world.
Meanwhile, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) said workers had a right to express their grievances as per the Industrial Relations Act which gives them freedom of assembly and association.