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Friday 22 July 2016


Over the past 18 months, Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) has received support from UNISON to build international support for human rights and democracy in Swaziland, the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC) reported.

ACTSA organised and hosted a visit to the UK by Vincent Ncongwane, the then Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), in March 2015. 

The TUC reported, ‘Vincent met with the then Minister for Africa and senior officials at the Commonwealth Secretariat, as well as with a wide range of civil society organisations, including trade unions. Vincent was able to use these meetings to stress the need for the UK and Commonwealth to step up their engagement with the Government of Swaziland so that it fulfils its international obligations. He also called on bilateral and multilateral agencies to more actively support the work of Swazi civil society.’

ACTSA has produced a range of campaign materials. Most recently, ACTSA has published a new briefing paper Swaziland’s Downward Spiral: The International Community Must Act Now. The paper warns that Swaziland may plunge into a protracted crisis unless the international community, including the UK, applies serious pressure on the Government of Swaziland so that it respects human rights and develops a genuinely democratic constitution. UNISON and other UK trade unionists have also been supportive of the development of a Swazi Rural Women’s Charter, which is discussed in another new ACTSA publication Women’s Rights in Swaziland

The paper reported that King Mswati III, the absolute monarch in Swaziland, was one of the main reasons why women in the kingdom remain oppressed. ACTSA reported that despite claims that Swaziland was a modern country, ‘the reality is, despite pledges and commitments, women continue to suffer discrimination, are treated as inferior to men, and are denied rights.’

ACTSA added, ‘The King has demonstrated he is unwilling to change the status quo and promotes multiple aspects of the patriarchal society.’

In a separate report, ACTSA called on the international community to apply serious pressure on the Government of Swaziland so that it respects human rights and develops a genuinely democratic constitution. 

The absolute monarch King Mswati III is due to become the chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in August 2016 while his government continues to violate human rights with impunity. In its report published in June 2016), ACTSA warned that Swaziland might plunge into a protracted crisis unless African governments, as well as bilateral and multilateral donors, vigorously and consistently engage with the Government of Swaziland so that it genuinely protects and serves all of its citizens.

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