A statement from the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) – a banned organisation in Swaziland – about the formation of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA).
3 May 2011
The Swaziland Solidarity Network would like to congratulate the workers of Swaziland on the successful launch of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), which is composed of the three most significant Trade Union Federations in the country: the Swaziland Federation of labour (SFL), Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT).
This body, launched on May Day, brings together all the country’s unions under one powerful congress, similar in stature to the South African Congress of Trade Unions (COSATU).
Although it was launched on a date internationally celebrated as workers’ day, it is the most fitting tribute to the gallant freedom fighter, Sipho Jele, whose last day as a free man was on the same date.
The historical background of the trade Union movement in Swaziland indicates that the three unions have largely worked together as they had common challenges brought about by the very unique undemocratic system of governance.
This cemented unity will now be an even bigger threat to those who seek to undermine workers’ rights and it will require more commitment and discipline from all workers to maintain that unity.
The tactics of the monarchist state in dealing with its opponents have always been underhanded. This is not likely to change anytime soon. In fact it is likely to get worse as the ruling regime understands that its time is coming to a close.
DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS
The plight of workers in every society is always a reflection of their relationship as people with the status quo. This is why autocratic countries are, by nature, the worst violators of workers’ rights.
Workers in Swaziland know this only too well. This is the reason why they have always been in the forefront of the struggle for human rights and democracy.
The same federations were part of the Labour Coordinating Committee (LCC) which, alongside the Swaziland National Union of Students, staged the recent April 12 protests.
It must be noted, however, that regardless of the state of the economy and the living conditions of labourers, they should not lose sight of the fact that they are a part of a bigger society.
It is the state of that society which always determines the sustainability of the conditions achieved. To speak of a Democratic Republic is not demagoguery. It should be viewed as a basic demand by people who value equality and human dignity.
LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS
We would like to express gratitude to all organisations that were involved in bringing the labour federations together. In particular, COSATU played a momentous role in this.
We hope that these partnerships will be further cemented as time continues. The same should be the case with all Swazi civil society partners who have marched with workers all along in their common pursuit of dignity and human rights in the land of their birth.
These ware too many to name and workers know them best.
We look forward to the first General Congress of the new structure and hope that it will occur in the same spirit of defiance and militancy that led to the King Mswati regime arresting most unionist leaders.
The forthcoming protests billed for every month of the year should grow bigger every time, roping in the unorganised and unemployed sectors of Swazi society.
Political leadership should not have to come cloaked in a costume and labelled as such. In a real any society, all citizens ought to be political leaders.
A little known labour leader, Eugene Debs, one said these powerful words:
“I am not a labour leader. I don't want you to follow me or anyone else. If you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of the capitalist wilderness you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into this Promised Land if I could, because if I could lead you in, someone else could lead you out.”
We have never expected less of Swaziland’s unions.
Issued by the Swaziland Solidarity Network [SSN]