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Saturday, 14 May 2011

SWAZI TRADE UNIONISTS ARRESTED

Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Statement

14 May 2011

Urgent Action: Trade Unionists Arrested in Swaziland: Repression Continues!

The Swaziland Democracy Campaign has just received urgent news that a group of leading trade unionists have been arrested by the security police in the Lubombo Region of Swaziland. The comrades were attending a meeting to discuss the establishment of a regional division of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) the new democratic trade union federation that was launched on May Day this year, and which brings together all the trade unions in Swaziland into a historic single organisation.

Those arrested include the following:

Gugu Malindzisa of the Labour Coordinating Committee and the UNITE project, a comrade Phumele formerly of the Swaziland Federation of Labour, Splasha Musa, Paul Mabila, George Mthethwa, Titus Nhleko, Bongani Siyaya, and a comrade Emanuel all from the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Bongani Shongwe from the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), and Gcinaphi Pateguana of the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU).

Let it be noted that the organisations that these comrades represent are perfectly legal and legitimate. What they were hoping to discuss in Lobombo was completely legal and constitutes activity that is universally protected by the Conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), namely the right to Freedom of Association.

The world should be outraged at this flagrant attempt to stifle the trade union movement in Swaziland. The trade unions have been in the forefront of organising protest action in favour of democracy, and in campaigns to defend the living standards of their largely impoverished membership.

The ILO in particular must immediately protest this action by the Swazi regime as it is in the process of compiling a report on Swaziland for the International Labour Congress taking place in June this year in Geneva. It must condemn this attack on trade union rights and strengthen the sanctions and penalties that it is able to impose on the regime as a result.

We also call upon the governments of the Region and the Continent as a whole to protest this gross violation of civil and worker rights. In each of the countries of the continent, trade union rights are supposed to enshrined in African Union protocols. Turning a blind eye will expose the hypocrisy of all of those governments who claim that they are themselves democratic. For how long can the Swazi regime be allowed to behave in this way, and bring the human rights record of the continent into disrepute.

We also call upon trade unionists and progress forces throughout the world to send messages of support to TUCOSWA (copies to SDC) and pressurise their own governments to do likewise.

If the Government of Swaziland thinks that it can illegally detain , disrupt and punish the democratic and united trade union movement without a reaction in Swaziland and across the world it must think again. By arresting these comrades the Swazi government have once again exposed themselves for what they really are, a self serving corrupt elite that rules through repression.

· Release these trade unionists and all those illegally detained by the regime!

· Isolate the Swazi Government and support the democratic forces in Swaziland!

· Pressurise Governments to side with the democrats not the Dictators

For messages of support and further information contact

Mduduzi C. Gina (SUDF Secretary General) (+268 76119211 comfortmgina@yahoo.com)

Vincent Ncongwane ( vincentncongwane@yahoo.co.uk)

Stephen Faulkner (082 817 5455, steve.faulkner@samwu.org.za)

Ntokozo Mbhele (072 370 0974 ntokozo@publicservices.co.za)

Philani Ndebele (076 942 3565 philani@asc.org.za)

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