The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) will be officially launched this weekend (10 – 13 March 2012).
The new group is expected to discuss how to step up its campaign for democracy in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Major protests are expected in April and May this year.
TUCOSWA, which will have about 50 000 members, is an amalgamation of the existing Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL). It is hoped that the new group will enable trade unionists in Swaziland to speak with a single voice.
Also at the launch meeting will be the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) – one of the strongest unions in the kingdom and one of the most vocal in its opposition to the ruling elites.
There are fears that the Swazi police might disrupt the meeting which is expected to discuss demands for democracy and economic reform.
Last weekend police in Siteki, a small town in Swaziland, forced the abandonment of a rally by TUCOSWA at a market. Police said organisers did not have permission for the rally and claimed it constituted a ‘health hazard’ at the market.
Among guests at the opening at the Esibayeni Lodge in Matsapha this weekend will be the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), South African Trade Union Coordinating Council (SATUCC) and the African Chapter of the International Trade Union Congress (ITU-AFRO).