Police in Swaziland stopped trade unionists from meeting on Saturday (28 February 2015) to discuss the need for multi-party democracy in the kingdom.
Armed police stopped supporters of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) meeting at the Swaziland National Teachers Association (SNAT) Centre in Manzini.
The Observer Sunday, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported, ‘The main reason the meeting was stopped from taking place was the inclusion of multi-party democracy in the agenda that was to be deliberated on the day.’
Political parties are banned from taking part in elections in Swaziland and many pro-democracy organisations have been banned by the King’s hand-picked government and labelled ‘terrorist’ groups.
Police mounted road blocks to stop supporters entering Manzini, the kingdom’s main commercial city.
The Federation’s President Quinton Dlamini said police would not deter TUCOSWA in its fight for democracy.
TUCOSWA now plans to hold a meeting just outside Swaziland’s borders at the Ngwenya Border Post in South Africa on 14 March 2015.
The Federation’s Secretary General Vincent Ncongwane said this would celebrate TUCOSWA’s third anniversary.
He said, ‘It is clear that we need multi-party democracy because the police are always exercising their powers over us. We have resolved that we take our meeting to where democracy is allowed and that is South Africa.’
In October 2014, the Swaziland Government banned TUCOSWA and all other employer and trade union federations in the kingdom.
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