News / Africa

    Swaziland Public Sector Workers Want Pay Increase

    Peter Clottey

    Trade Union groups in Swaziland are considering nationwide demonstrations to pressure the administration in Mbabane to increase public sector workers’ pay.

    The government released a salary review report which the unions say increases salaries of mostly senior officials in the public sector but see very little increase for “ordinary” workers.

    Public sector workers in Swaziland have called for increased pay for the last 10 years. The government has often said the global economic downturn has made it difficult to meet those demands. King Mswati's government has called on Swazis to tighten their belts this year.

    But, the unions are holding consultations with members to decide when to begin protests, according to Wandile Dludlu, national coordinator for a pro-democracy group known as the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF).

    “All the public sector workers unions have reacted in a very shocked way in the sense that they have not accepted most of the recommendations of the salaries review report because it seems to give more money to the upper section of the civil service, and very little to the ones that need it the most, which is the middle and the lower sections of the public service. [They] have been calling for the last 10 years... So that is what has basically caused shock waves in most of the public sector unions,” said Dludlu.

    “So far, the reaction points to a possible mass rolling action in terms of protests to force government to concede [by] giving more salary increment to the middle and lower sections of the civil service, as most have been calling for.”

    Dludlu says the government appears not to heed its own warning to tighten its belt because of the challenging economic conditions in the kingdom. This after the administration announced it has budgeted $6 million ($6,211,983) to buy a new jet for King Mswati. Members of parliament had urged the government to consider buying the king a new jet to replace the current DC-9.

    Local media reported the government also aims to seek $9 million from the international community to help pay for drought relief after months of poor rain in parts of the country. Dludlu says Swazis are scared of the repercussions if they were to publicly challenge things that are meant for the king’s use, which he adds might not be beneficial to the citizens.  

    “[People] are silent on that, not because Swazis are not necessarily angry or shocked about the confused priorities in the sense that on one hand the country is plunging into a drought disaster, on the [other] hand the king has called in his speech on the throne that there must be tightening of belt by everybody. But government is seen loosening the belt on the spending on [the] king’s needs and wants,” said Dludlu.

    “There has been quite an interesting reaction.  On one hand public servants have been very angry openly against the prime minister in the issue of the salary review. But there have been quite silence on the other facts around on the reservation of money to be spent just on a jet for the king… that is not quiet shocking for some of us …because they are afraid to challenge the king openly.”

    The government plans to buy new cars for use by visiting heads of state and government when Swaziland hosts the Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting in August. Pro-democracy groups say the planned purchases, which they estimate at more than $11 million, reflect misplaced government priorities.

    Supporters of the government insist the administration has an obligation to host the summit as a member of the regional bloc. But Dludlu argued that the administration cannot legitimately spend extravagantly on the summit while claiming it cannot afford to increase the pay of public sector workers.

    “The reason why we are putting this demand is that on one hand they are saying the workers must tighten their belt, but they at the top are loosening their own belt, by spending more, buying new cars, a fleet of cars [to host] the SADC meeting.  The expenditure of the monarchy is going up, but they are saying to the workers, we must tighten belt. It is on the basis of that is why we are not listening to them at all, because they seem not to walk their talk,” said Dludlu.

    “The summit cannot be done at the expense of the abject poverty that continues to ground and grind Swazis.”

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    The Complicated Math of AIDS

    Billions are spent on AIDS prevention, research, treatment — and major events like the International AIDS Conference. Activists say victims of the disease are paying for these costs.

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora