Friday, April 24, 2009


Trade unions in Swaziland have vowed to continue to march to defend the Swazi Constitution, despite a threat from the prime minister to ban all protests in the kingdom.

Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed prime minister of Swaziland, threatened to ban all protests after trade unions and civil society groups staged a march earlier this month (April 2009) to try to force the Swazi Government to honour its constitutional obligations to introduce free primary schooling. The Swaziland High Court has ruled that the government should uphold the constitution.

Despite police attempts to illegally ban the march and violence during the protest, the trade unions have said they will continue the protest and have called for two days of action next month.

The Swaziland Federation of Labour, the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions and the Swaziland National Association of Teachers in a joint statement said they have no regrets in holding the demonstration and would march again on 19 and 20 May.

The trade unionists accused parliamentarians of having been cowed to silence as government violated the constitution and ignoring the court judgement in support of free primary education.

They said they would continue with the action because the government needed to be marched against and protested against until it changed course.

The statement said, ‘We note the threats from the prime minister to ban marches. He must remember that the courts (despite the contempt his government treats them with), will be the final determinants on the proposed bans.

‘Despite all that, Mr Prime Minister the protests will continue. We cannot do otherwise and be silent whilst our taxes are wasted. If parliamentarians simply keep silent and fold their arms, for reasons best known to them, we will not.’

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