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September 03, 2012
Swaziland Teachers' Strike Bolsters Democracy Call
by James Butty
The president of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers said Swazis have been emboldened in their demand for multi-party democracy by a recent teachers’ strike.
The teachers were fired in early August for participating in a six-week strike demanding a 4.5 percent salary increase. But, King Mswati III last week ordered their re-instatement of the teachers after hearing from Swazis during a recent people’s parliament.
Teachers Association President Sibongile Mazibuko said there was a paradigm shift during the parliament as Swazis were vocal in their demands for multi-party democracy.
“The majority of the population of Swaziland said the teachers should be re-instated and that teachers should get the 4.5 increase. And they also submitted that the whole Cabinet must be fired because of failure to handle the situation. And, among other things, they said that they want to go for [a] multiparty system,” she said.
Mazibuko said, for the first time, Swazis were free to voice their concerns to the king because of the teachers’ strike.
“There was a paradigm shift from the previous people’s parliament, which took place five years ago. That parliament was such that if you said you needed multiparty democracy, you were booed to sit down. But, this time, people were listening carefully. I think the scale of teachers going around the whole country making people aware of how corrupt our government is has changed the people’s mind to think that why can’t we try multi-party democracy,” Mazibuko said.
Butty interview with Mazibuko
She said she believes there will be a smooth transition of power in Swaziland because King Mswati III is king only because of the people.
“We are saying that, if you sow good things of democracy, people will lead you to democracy. The culture is such that, in Swaziland, the king is king because of the people. If they say, ‘Your Majesty, we are looking for multiparty democracy,’ the king has no choice because he is the king for the people,” Mazibuko said.