News

Swaziland Trade Union Demands Democratic Reforms

King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Extraordinary Summit in Johannesburg (file photo).
King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Swaziland at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Extraordinary Summit in Johannesburg (file photo).

Multimedia

Audio
  • Clottey interview with Barnes Dlamini, president of the newly formed Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA)

Peter Clottey

The newly formed Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) has demanded the registration and participation of political parties in next year’s parliamentary election, despite strong government opposition.

“Now is the time for the country to allow political parties in terms of the elections,” said TUCOSWA president Barnes Dlamini.  “There should be democratic processes in terms of electing parliamentarians and allowing political parties, first, to register and, secondly, to be given enough time to garner support from the various citizens of the country, in terms of their political ideology.”

Swaziland’s constitution bars the formation and participation of all political parties in the tiny, southern African kingdom.

The Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and the Swaziland Federation of Labor (SFL) merged with the independent Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) to form what is now known as TUCOSWA.

Dlamini said his organization will soon begin a nationwide education campaign, where he said workers will enlighten Swazis in their local communities about their rights in a new democratic dispensation.

Some analysts say TUCOSWA’s demands and plans will be on a collision course with the administration, which they said frowns on partisan political activities.  But, Dlamini said workers are unlikely to be intimidated by threats from the government.

“We have always been taking backlash in terms of responses from the government from time immemorial,’ said Dlamini.  “In the absence of political parties, as a trade union, we will continue to bring up issues of social economic in nature.  Workers are suffering under the political order in Swaziland and we are saying to government [should] sit down and address this question because time has come for it.”

Supporters of the government say TUCOSWA’s ambition is to use the power of the Swazi workers to blackmail the administration into effecting immediate democratic reforms.  But, Dlamini denied the accusation.

“Our intention is not to blackmail the government, but, with time, workers have actually seen what this regime is doing and what that is doing to the citizens,” said Dlamini.  “Workers are coming to the fore to say that [the] government should be structured in [such a] way that they are able to have a say in the government structures of their country.”

Dlamini said TUCOSWA will continue to resist what he calls government’s incessant manipulation of elections in Swaziland.

“Workers are more than prepared to go to the grassroots level, they are prepared to go to the communities and shed some light to show them the glaring aspect of what government should do, the glaring absence of the social standards at which a Swazi is, as I speak to them.”

Analysts say, although a constitution was reintroduced in Swaziland, the level of power invested in King Mswati III is so significant that the country can be considered an absolute monarchy.

Critics say the government has successfully stifled political opposition by putting pressure on human rights organizations, trade unions, and civil society groups and banning all political parties.

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs