International condemnation against the Swazi Government’s plan to sack civil servants who are ‘visibly associated’ in politics is growing.
The Public Service Bill currently going through the Swaziland Parliament will require civil servants to ‘serve the government of the day in a way that ensures that the public officer maintains the confidence of the government'. Public servants will not be allowed to be members of political formations or be involved in politics.
Now, Public Services International (PSI), based in France, has written to Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed prime minister, to protest that it would be ‘practically impossible for public servants to exercise their right to organize themselves politically or to publicly express views of a political nature’ if the bill becomes law.
PSI says in a letter to Dlamini dated 3 September 2009 that the law is formulated in such a way so that it can be used to suppress trade union activity and hinder trade unions’ efforts to represent their members’ social and economic interests.
‘PSI believes that the real purpose of the bill is to intimidate anyone who criticises the policy decisions or actions of the government of Swaziland.’
In the letter Peter Waldorff, PSI General Secretary, says, ‘We stress that the Public Service Bill 2009 is a piece of legislation that will serve to oppress dissident voices in your country. We see this law as an extension of the draconian Suppression of Terrorism Act and the prohibition of opposition political parties.’
PSI says the Public Service Bill is a violation of several international conventions signed by Swaziland, including the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, which Swaziland ratified in 1978.
PSI is a global trade union federation representing more than 20 million women and men working in public services. It has 685 affiliated unions in 160 countries and territories, including in Swaziland.