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Swaziland communists warn against anti-union intimidation

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) has called for workers to unite against the latest act of “union bashing and victimisation” by the autocratic government of King Mswati III.

It said the people of Swaziland must stand with the country’s teachers who are facing intimidation by the regime, which recently banned Teachers’ Day celebrations.

“The regime has historically attempted to crush workers’ rights to peaceful association, assembly, movement, including the right to form and join unions,” said CPS general secretary Thokozani Kenneth Kunene.

Public-sector workers took strike action from September 23 to October 3 for a 7.85 per cent pay increase, having not received a rise since 2016.

But the government hit back, with security forces attacking demonstrations and seeking to have the strike action blocked in the courts.

In the past few weeks, Mswati’s government has been scouring the internet and social media looking for photographs and names of those who took part in the public-sector strikes.

Teachers are in the firing line, with the CPS warning that the government is intent on crushing their union, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers.

Labour movement leaders are being targeted by the government, which has threatened them with arrest for lawful trade union activities.

Mr Kunene said: “Every day, the regime proves that it is incapable of governing and thus that the ultimate practical solution left to the people of Swaziland is to dismantle the [present] system and create a free and democratic country. 

“The CPS calls for unity among workers of Swaziland in solidarity with each other. The clear divide-and-rule machinations by the Mswati autocracy must be combated by the greatest and deepest unity among workers in defence of their rights to freedom of association, assembly and movement.”

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