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Monday, 31 October 2011

‘POSITIVE WOMEN’ HIT SWAZILAND

Members of Positive Women, the UK-based charity set up to empower women and children in Swaziland, flew into the kingdom yesterday (30 October 2011) for a series of activities.

To follow their work check out YouTube here – where they promise an ongoing ‘video diary’ of their visit.http://www.youtube.com/user/positivewomen1?feature=mhee#p/a

Also, follow then on Twitter here @Positive_Women

Positive Women is a UK charity set up to help empower women and children in Swaziland. Our work focuses on growing local women led organisations, helping to fund anti-poverty programmes, supporting social progress initiatives and by driving their efficiency throughout their projects.

Positive Women began after two inspiring women met at Make Poverty History. These women shared a similar vision -- to find new ways to support locally run women's organisations in places where a lack of women's rights seriously damage the ability of women to create income and protect themselves against disease and violence. Siphiwe Hlophe and Kathryn Llewellyn saw huge potential to develop the work that they had both begun -- The Children of Swaziland and Swaziland Positive Living, and so pioneered Positive Women as an innovative and forward-thinking project that reaches all eight of the Millennium Development Goals.

See also

SWAZI WOMEN LEAD THE HIV STRUGGLE

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/10/swazi-women-lead-hiv-struggle.html

SWAZILAND UNIONS CALL OFF PROTESTS

Swazi Observer

31 October 2011

SOURCE

Unions call off protest action

IN light of a court order obtained by government, unions have called off the protest march which was scheduled for tomorrow (1 November 2011) until Saturday.


Instead, the executive of all the labour unions; Swaziland National Association of Teachers, Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions as well as Swaziland Federation of Labour would deliver petitions to the High Court and the ministry of labour.


Secretary General of the Labour Coordinating Council, Muzi Mhlanga said they received a court order yesterday, which was brought by police officers.


Mhlanga was responding to Minister of Labour and Social Security, Lutfo Dlamini’s statement, where he pleaded with the unions to respect the court order which was issued on Friday.

Organised labour wanted to march over the delay by government to address the judicial crisis, the failure to address workers’ concerns on the tender board processes as well as what unions termed “relocation” of Tibiyo and Tisuka TakaNgwane.


The minister said: “I wish to strongly advise workers not to participate in the upcoming protest action. It is unlawful and, therefore, not protected. Each worker should consider the implications of such an unlawful action.”


The minister spoke during a press conference, which he called yesterday afternoon.


Dlamini stated that the employers were also advised about the ruling of the court. He said if unions would defy the court order it would mean there was no rule of law.


The court order reads: “The intended protest action cannot be referred to as protected or lawful if the requirements of Section 40 have not been complied with.


The effect of the court order of October 28th, 2011 is that the respondents are interdicted or barred from going on with the intended protest action until the Labour Advisory Board properly constituted in terms of the Industrial Relations Act, 2000 (as amended) attends to the issues referred to it respondents within seven working days mentioned in the court order of the 28th October 2011.”

…Instead, they call night vigil for tonight

LABOUR has called a mass prayer which is expected to be held at the Roman Catholic Church in Mbabane tonight.


Secretary General of the Labour Coordinating Council, Muzi Mhlanga said everyone was welcome to the prayer.


He said after this, the executive of the, Swaziland National Association of Teachers, Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions as well as Swaziland Federation of Labour would deliver a petition to the High Court and the ministry of labour.


Some of the things the unions are complaining about are; government’s continued inability to meet the demand for the relocation of Tibiyo TakaNgwane and TisukaTakaNgwane, the judicial crisis and the failure by government to address the workers’ concerns on the tender board and the processes.

However, Mhlanga said they had since withdrawn the issue of the tender board because the ministry was still engaging them on it.


Unions had called a mass protest from tomorrow until Saturday but government acquired a court order which stopped the march. Civil society was expected to participate in the march.
Mhlanga said every member of the public was welcome at the mass prayer, which is expected to be held tonight until tomorrow morning.

Unions’ grievances not receivable – Lutfo

THE grievances submitted to the Labour Advisory Board (LAB) were not receivable and were thus rejected.


This was because workers did not mention any steps they had taken to solve the issues before embarking on a protest.


The Minister of Labour and Social Security, Lutfo Dlamini in a press conference yesterday said “the Labour Advisory Board at its meeting rejected all the notices, stating that they did not meet the key requirements of Section 40.”


The issues the unions wanted to march over included the delay by government in addressing the judicial crisis, failure to address workers’ concerns on the tender board and the processes and government’s inability to meet the “relocation” of Tibiyo and Tisuka TakaNgwane.

The minister said they were willing to meet the unions and discuss these issues with them.
He mentioned that the Minister of Justice and Constitutional affairs, Mgwagwa Gamedze was addressing the issue of the judicial crisis.


“Let the minister deal with this issue until such time that he says he has failed then we can involve ourselves,” said the minister.


Dlamini also noted that in a meeting the Labour Advisory Board had recently with the unions, a non-gazetted member was present.


He said the workers stated that this was an alternate member. “Our view as government is that the tripartite structure has joint custody of all employment and industrial relations regulations. To have a partner in the structure deliberately defeating the effective operations of such an important structure as the Labour Advisory Board brings to question the good faith that the partner brings to such a meeting,” said the minister.


The Secretary General of the Labour Coordinating Council, Muzi Mhlanga said the member did not know they were going to meet the Labour Advisory Board.

See also

SWAZI GOVT TRIES TO STOP MASS PROTESTS

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/10/swazi-govt-tries-to-stop-mass-protests.html

SWAZI COURT HALTS MASS PROTEST

Times of Swaziland

31 October 2011

SOURCE

Court stops unions protest action

MBABANE - The Industrial Court has issued an order stopping labour unions from proceeding with the protest action which was to begin tomorrow (1 November 2011).

The order, which was issued on Saturday, clarifies another order which had been issued on October 28, 2011, when the court had ruled that the unions should meet with the Labour Advisory Board within seven days to discuss the three issues they had submitted to the board.

The unions, after this ruling, indicated that they were to proceed with their protest action as the judge did not expressly interdict them from continuing with the protest action.

This prompted government to go back to court to seek clarity on the conflicting interpretations of the ruling. Industrial Court Judge Nkosinathi Nkonyane clarified the ruling by stating that;

"The effect of the court order of October 28, 2011 is that the respondents are interdicted or barred from going on with the intended protest action until the Labour Advisory Board properly constituted in terms of the Industrial Relations Act attends to the issues referred to it by the respondents within seven working days mentioned in the court order of October 28, 2011."

The order also states that the intended protest action cannot be referred to as ‘protected’ or ‘lawful’ if the requirements of Section 40 have not been complied with. Furthermore, in a matter in which government was represented by Tholi Vilakati, with no appearance from the unions, the judge ruled that the order was to be served on the respondents yesterday, between 7am and 7pm.

Service of the order was to be made on the respondents wherever they may be found and police were to assist in the service of the order.

The respondents in this matter are the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFL) and the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFTU).

The Minister of Labour and Social Security Lutfo Dlamini advised workers not to participate in the proposed protest action, as it is unlawful and not protected.

He said each worker should consider the implications of such an unlawful action.

Dlamini added that if the protest action was to proceed after the order of the court, it would mean there is lawlessness in the country, as orders of the court are not adhered to. He also urged the unions to help give the justice minister a chance to solve the judicial crisis.

See also

SWAZI GOVT TRIES TO STOP MASS PROTESTS

http://swazimedia.blogspot.com/2011/10/swazi-govt-tries-to-stop-mass-protests.html

Saturday, 29 October 2011

OSISA ON SWAZI JUDICIAL CRISIS

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Johannesburg)

Statement

27 October 2011

SOURCE

The following is an extract from the OSISA statement to the 50th Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, October 2011, Banjul, The Gambia

Swaziland

Swaziland is a country with an absolute Monarchy presiding over a regime that has mismanaged state resources and rendered the nation virtually bankrupt and insolvent.

The plight of the citizens of Swaziland was brought to the attention of the Commission during its 49th session. Our statement focused on lack access to justice, erosion of the respect rule of law, abuse of human rights, rampant and endemic corrupt, assault on freedom of press, association, and speech amongst other abuses that are an affront to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

As you may be aware, since 1 August 2011, members of the Law Society of Swaziland have been boycotting all the courts in Swaziland. The boycott of the courts seeks to highlight the subversion of the principle of judicial independence and rule of law in the country. The genesis of the boycott lies in a number of actions by the Government, the Judicial Service Commission and the Chief Justice of Swaziland the effect of which is the denial of citizens' constitutional right to approach the courts, and the introduction of institutional bias in the allocation and determination of matters before the Courts.

For instance, Practice Direction 4 of 2011, the country's Chief Justice banned all summons/applications citing the name of the King or the Office of the King, directly or indirectly rendering the Monarch above the law. The Law Society is also aggrieved with the decision of the Judicial Service Commission - of which the Chief Justice is the chairperson - to refuse to accept a petition drawn by the Law Society against the Chief Justice.

As a consequence of the non-functioning of the courts, citizens of Swaziland have been deprived of their constitutional right to judicial redress. Criminal prosecutions which are at the instance of the State have continued albeit accused persons are being denied their constitutional right to legal representation as a consequence of the absence of defence lawyers.

This has given rise to the conviction and imprisonment of unrepresented accused persons, itself a fundamental violation of their human rights. The Government has increased its suppression of citizens' rights, on the strength that people cannot obtain any judicial redress or injunctions against the state for any violations.

Given that an independent and functioning judiciary is essential to the functioning of any State, we consider the absence of a proper functioning judiciary system as a gross violation of the rights of the citizens of Swaziland.

Together with the Law Society of Swaziland, which has lodged a formal complaint to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights against the Kingdom of Swaziland in terms of Article 55 of the African Charter, we request the Commission to urgently undertake a promotional mission to Swaziland, to investigate the factors and issues giving rise to the prevailing judicial crisis.

Friday, 28 October 2011

SWAZILAND ‘WORST’ FOR RIGHTS

Swaziland Solidarity Network

Statement

27 October 2011

SOURCE

Australian workers are spot on

ACTU, Australian Council of Trade Unions, has acknowledged that Swaziland is the worst country in the world when it comes to abuse of human and industrial rights.

In the organisation’s official website,
the president of the organisation Ged Kearney, has called for the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting to suspend Swaziland for “wholesale violations of democratic rights.”

Pointing out the fact that worker’s right cannot be separated from basic human rights, the president went on to castigate the Commonwealth for hypocritically pretending to be an organization that fosters democracy amongst its members, whereas it has failed to champion the democratic rights of citizens of some of its member states.

The democratic forces in the country and our alliance structures have failed to understand how Zimbabwe was suspended from the organisation for abusing human rights, but nothing was done to address the Swazi issue.

Is this because King Mswati chooses to evict his own poor subjects while Mugabe took land from the lily white farmers of British origin? We need answers to these questions. This seriously undermines the Commonwealth’s credibility as a non-racial, impartial and democratic institution that respects national sovereignty for its sake.

We have long called for the Swazi regime to be suspended from international bodies and we are happy that other organisations outside our alliance are finally responding to these grave double standards.

Issued by the Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]