Monday, August 17, 2015


Trade unions across the southern African region have been urged to stand up to Swaziland’s autocratic King Mswati III in an attempt to bring democracy to the kingdom.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) unions have been told they should put the King ‘on the spot’.

King Mswati rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch; political parties are barred from taking part in elections; opposition groups are banned and dissidents arrested under the Suppression of terrorism Act. The King chooses the government.

Workers’ rights are suppressed. In June2015 the kingdom was named among the top ten worst countries in the world for workers’ rights, in a report published by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The Southern African Trade Union Coordinating Council, meeting in Gaborone, Botswana, heard that King Mswati was resisting pressure to introduce democratic changes. The Sunday Standard newspaper in Botswana reported this week (16 August 2015), ‘Henry Malumo from Action Aid International said that all forms of pressure that have been brought to bear on the kingdom have not yielded positive results. On such a basis, he suggested that it was time to change track.’

The Standard reported him saying, ‘Everybody knows what is happening in Swaziland but unfortunately the government doesn’t feel the heat. It is time to put the King himself on the spot. It doesn’t have to be the people of Swaziland themselves, but us.’

The newspaper reported, ‘Malumo said that in solidarity with their Swaziland counterparts, some South African trade unionists were urging the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) which is “closer to the African National Congress”, to put pressure on the kingdom.

‘”The South African government is the one that is sustaining the kingdom,” he said.’

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