The following is a news report from the Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, about the protest march taking place in Mbabane today (17 November 2010).
No petitions in today’s march
MBABANE – The country’s organised labour unions will proceed with today’s ‘encouragement demonstration’ to be held in the capital city.
However, this time around, there will be no petitions to be delivered to any government ministry, secretary general of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Muzi Mhlanga said yesterday.
Instead, he said they would only deliver speeches at certain points around town while carrying on with the demonstration.
SNAT is one of the organisers of the demonstration, alongside the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL). Mhlanga said they expected every worker, as well as the unemployed, to be part of the demonstration because the issues that would be addressed touched on every person’s livelihood.
"We will be demonstrating tomorrow (today 17 November 2010), definitely. We will meet at the Coronation Park in the morning and then march around town but no petition will be delivered," Mhlanga said.
He went on: "We will address issues like the Public Service Bill, the E55 SEC charge as well as Circular No.1 of 2010 [that gives the Prime Minister and MPs massive pay-offs at the next national elections]. These issues affect everyone, so we expect all people to be part of the demonstration."
Mhlanga said transport to the demonstration has been made available by the different organising unions for members to be able to attend the protest.
"We expect teachers to attend in large numbers. SNAT has prepared transport and we hope other organisations have done the same. Teachers who need to know more about transport details can call SNAT offices," Mhlanga said.
Today’s ‘encouragement demonstration’ is a substitute for the three-day mass protest action that was set to commence this morning until Friday.
The mass protest was called-off as labour unions agreed to give negotiations with government a chance to continue.
Mduduzi Gina, the SFTU Secretary General, said the decision to shelve the three-day mass action was to allow for negotiations to continue between government and the labour unions pertaining to the issues that had given rise to the proposed demonstration in the first place.
Gina said during meetings of the Labour Advisory Board, government had shown progress in so far as addressing some of the issues on the table is concerned.
Mphandlana’s bid to stop cops
MANZINI-Political activist, Mphandlana Shongwe, who has in the past been blocked from attending demonstrations, has since decided to file an urgent application interdicting the police from blocking his participation in the marches.
Shongwe yesterday told this newspaper that he had received legal assistance in drafting papers he will personally file in the court very early today interdicting the police from harassing him during demonstrations.
Shongwe said he should have served the police yesterday but found that by the time he finished drafting his papers they had closed their offices at the Attorney General offices.
When asked who will represent him, Shongwe said he will represent himself.
In the recent past, Shongwe has been forcefully removed whenever there were demonstrations. He is either taken out of the locality where the action takes place or further house arrests.
The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) has called a one day mass demonstration today.