Swaziland’s police chief Isaac Magagula has accused a discussion panel led by Jay Naidoo of trying to cause ‘anarchy and instability’ in the kingdom.
Police, acting without warrants or a court order, broke up the meeting at the George Hotel, Manzini, last Friday (6 September 2013) and deported panel members from Swaziland.
The meeting was to be a Global Inquiry Panel on trade union rights and democracy in the Swaziland, where the main workers’ federation and political parties are banned and King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The inquiry was an initiative of the International Trade Union Confederation, Trade Union Congress of Swaziland and South Africa’s Congress of South African Trade Unions to hear workers’ accounts of their experiences in order compile a report to be taken to the International Labour organisation for the Committee on the Application of International Standards.
The panel was to be chaired by Jay Naidoo, former General Secretary of COSATU and former Minister in the South African Government under the President Nelson Mandela.
Police National Commissioner Magagula told media in Swaziland, ‘We wish to state that as far as our careful analysis of the bigger picture is concerned, the organisers are being economical with the truth in relation to the actual purpose of the meeting. This is because all factors surrounding it suggest that it was not merely intended to discuss bread and butter issues for workers, but it was part and parcel of a broader agenda to further ulterior political motives aimed at breaching the peace and causing anarchy and instability in the country.’
The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported, ‘He said it was striking that the Global Inquiry Panel had attributes of the Global Week of Action on Democracy in Swaziland.
‘He said the Global Week of Action on Swaziland was conceived with motives that undermine the peace and security of the country.
‘The Commissioner said the meeting was likely to shift the focus of the nation from the ongoing elections process and thereby cause confusion and instability, particularly “given that members of the certain proscribed entities had made threats to sabotage the process.”’
Various trade unions all over the world staged activities in support of trade unionists in Swaziland and the global week of action led by the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) and its campaign wing, the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC).
The police action was criticized globally as an attack on the constitutional rights of Swazi people to freedom of assembly.
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