02 October 2019

Communist Party of Swaziland calls for solidarity with public sector workers of Swaziland

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) stands with public sector workers of Swaziland in their strike action. The workers demand a 7.85 per cent cost of living adjustment. The violent reaction by the regime’s police last week, 25 September 2019, and today, 2 October 2019, is a sign that the Mswati regime is getting more desperate and will do anything to cling to power.

The workers’ protests are a total rejection of the tinkhundla government, which is the employer in this case. The protest over wages is at one and the same time a protest against tinkhundla exploitation. In Swaziland, state resources are not used for what they should be for; social development and economic stimulation. Instead, the money goes to fund the luxurious lifestyle of the monarchy and wasted in corruption. The tinkhundla autocracy has collapsed the economy in this way. Money for education and health are redirected to Mswati, his family and friends.

The Mswati regime wants to treat workers as part of its royal regiment. The regime wants workers to do nothing but bend over twice in implementing tinkhundla rule and ideology. The royal regiment system is a form of slavery practiced by the monarchy, supported by imperialist forces, SADC and African leaders along with other reactionary forces.

The police violence against workers is thus intended to defend tinkhundla dictatorship and its exploitation. Exploitation of human by human must come to an end. In the Swaziland situation, this begins by bringing an end to the Mswati autocracy.
Workers shot by Mswati's police during Manzini protest action
today, 2 October 2019.

The Communist Party of Swaziland calls upon the masses of our country to support the protests by joining the workers’ pickets and protests. International progressive forces, including our friends, must reject Mswati and his suppression of workers and their rights. The Communist Party of Swaziland also calls for solidarity messages and demonstrations.

Swaziland needs Democracy Now!

05 September 2019

Communist Party of Swaziland: Statement on the attack of Swazi truck drivers on South African roads

Rioters in South Africa. Pic from Standard Media

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) condemns xenophobic attacks and threats directed at Swazi truck drivers on South African roads particularly in the Kwa-Zulu Natal and Mpumalanga provinces. These attacks have an innate link with the xenophobic violence directed generally against foreign nationals across South Africa and have nothing to do with resolving the real problem afflicting the working class in Africa, generally, and South Africa, particularly.

With the same intensity, the CPS also condemns xenophobic attacks against all foreign nationals.

The problem of xenophobic attacks, by no means an inherently and exclusively South African problem, must be studied from its roots, lest solutions become a mere façade and cover-up over a festering wound. Such attacks contribute to the decay of the unity of the working class while at the same time ensuring maximum profits for capital.

The ultimate aim of capitalism is nothing but the maximisation of profit at whatever cost. This is the reason why trucking companies in South Africa, in their drive to force down production costs and maximise profits, always aim to hire labour power at its lowest cost possible. Foreign nationals, particularly those who hail from war-torn countries and those from countries which have political and economic crises, including Swaziland, are the most vulnerable in this instance.

The heavy reliance on undocumented, and in many instances unqualified, foreign nationals fits into the aims of companies to cut costs, maximise profits, while at the same time dividing workers. Such workers are often unable to join unions and meaningfully contribute in the collective defence of workers’ rights, thus dividing workers across nationalities and races. Additionally, due to destitution and desperation, undocumented workers are often the likeliest to accept the lowest pay while working unreasonably long hours doing extra work. They also lose benefits which would have been due to them in the case of documentation. In cases where the company is liable for negligence, they are left alone to face the legal consequences. It is important to also bring to the fore the fact that even in instances where foreign nationals are in South Africa legally and have all the relevant documentation, some companies have the tendency to disregard this documentation and hire them without filling in their relevant legal details. These workers accordingly fall directly into the category of undocumented workers.

Ultimately, dissatisfaction within the citizens boils over and leads to such condemnable xenophobic attacks; attacks against the victims of capitalism. The result of all this is division of workers and maximum profits for the companies.
However, blaming undocumented foreigners for xenophobic attacks takes away the reality that the attackers are not merely attacking undocumented foreign nationals, but foreign nationals in the last resort. The worst victims are those of African origin, with the claim that they (foreign nationals) are stealing South Africans’ jobs.

To address the problem with specific regard to the attacks on Swazi truck drivers, the people of Swaziland must ask themselves why Swazi workers have had to throw themselves into such super exploitative conditions when Swaziland is marketed by the ruling regime as a “peaceful” country where everyone is happy? The fact of the matter is that the tinkhundla regime has destroyed the economy of Swaziland. It is plainly due to the tinkhundla regime that many Swazis have abandoned the country in search for better educational, health and economic opportunities, particularly in South Africa. It is the regime which has ensured a “first world” glamorous lifestyle for the royal family while close to 70 percent of the population remain poverty stricken.

Thus, unless the tinkhundla system is overthrown and a truly democratic Swaziland formed, one where freedom is used to develop the people in a democratic manner, more Swazis will continue to face risks of attacks in South Africa and other parts of the globe wherever they find themselves. All efforts must thus be towards uniting against the tinkhundla regime which continues to oppress and impoverish the people.

The CPS notes and welcomes the good work that has been done by unions under the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and other progressive forces in condemning the violence and the threats, but also for raising consciousness of workers on this issue. The work that has been done by Cosatu to mobilise for the unionisation of workers, including foreign nationals, is commendable towards uniting workers. It is when workers are united against capitalism along with national chauvinism, that they will be able to defeat divisive attitudes, tendencies and beliefs like xenophobia.

Combat revenge xenophobic attacks

 While the CPS condemns the xenophobic violence taking place in South Africa, the Party does not condone any revenge attacks against South African truck drivers who cross over onto Swaziland roads. The CPS thus equally condemns any chauvinistic approach to the matter, as well as anti-South African worker sentiments, including plans to attack South African truck drivers and other South African nationals working in Swaziland. National chauvinism, including narrow nationalism, is as wrong as the xenophobic attacks which the CPS condemns.

The CPS thus calls for the widest possible unity within the workers of the world, in general, and African workers, in particular, against the root cause of xenophobia, capitalism, especially in its imperialist form. The people of Swaziland have also to unite in the fight for the democratisation of the country, for the free development of the people of Swaziland.

Issued by the Communist Party of Swaziland

08 March 2019

Communist Party of Swaziland on International Women’s Day 2019: A call for maximum mass defiance in the maximum number of sites against the inherently patriarchal tinkhundla regime

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) joins the entire working class of the world to observe International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day remains as important today as it was when it was first organised in 1909 by the Socialist Party of America, officially marked a public holiday in the Soviet Union soon after the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution and recognised by the United Nations in 1975.

All these events followed a solution by the First International Conference of Socialist Women, held in Sturtgart in 1907. The Conference resolved to declare 8 March the International Day of Working Women, and to mark it every year as the day of international solidarity among the female proletariat in their struggle for equal economic and political rights.

The CPS pays tribute to the many women revolutionaries who have waged the struggle for freedom in Swaziland. So many of these women, largely unknown and unacknowledged, have resolutely rejected the tinkhundla system and made huge sacrifices in the struggle for freedom for all.

Swaziland’s tinkhundla regime continues to be a hotbed of patriarchy. Inherently patriarchal, the regime continues to oppress women, violating its own constitution, while at one and the same time deceiving the world of its seriousness to uplift women. As such, in this context, working class and rural women are the worst victims of tinkhundla rule.

Tinkhundla’s unapologetic patriarchal approach manifested itself markedly during the sham tinkhundla elections in 2018. While the CPS has made clear calls for the rejection of tinkhundla elections, the Mswati regime’s suppression of women every time these elections take place cannot escape condemnation.

In a clear attempt to disempower as many women as possible during the 2018 tinkhundla elections, women candidates were made to kneel when presenting their election manifestos while their male counterparts could easily make theirs while standing. The rhetoric that the regime was serious about the rights of women was easily discredited by these acts of suppression.

Every tinkhundla elections period results in the killing of women and children for ritual purposes. Some people in Swaziland still hold on to the regime’s misguided belief that women’s private parts bring about success, whether in business or any endeavour such as elections. In this fierce competition for positions in the money train known as parliament, women and children become the most immediate victims. It has become clear to many people of Swaziland that if the tinkhundla system is allowed to prevail a day longer then the ritual murder of women and children will not stop.

The violence that women continue to endure must be condemned. Studies continue to show that, in Swaziland, one in three girls experience sexual violence before they reach the age of 18. The regime normalised early and forced marriage, including marital rape. This culture of violence against women manifested itself when Mswati’s parliament took about ten years to pass the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Bill, partly because the regime was against clauses in the Bill which banned incest, unlawful stalking, abduction and flashing.

Patriarchy must be tackled head-on wherever and whenever it manifests itself, not least in the respective institutions of the tinkhundla system and places of employment. As the people of Swaziland wage their struggle for freedom, it is also important that they fight this scourge within their own ranks. The struggle for freedom from tinkhundla rule is also a struggle against patriarchy in general. All formations within the progressive camp must deepen the struggle for the eradication of all backward tendencies, including patent and latent acts of women suppression within these formations. Male chauvinism must find no sympathy within the progressive movement!

The CPS calls upon all working class and rural women to unite and wage a relentless struggle against the tinkhundla regime, for freedom, democracy and socialism. The current tinkhundla system is incapable of offering a concrete route towards the total emancipation of women. These struggles must lead to the maximum mass defiance of the regime in the maximum number of sites.

Only with the end of the oppression and exploitation of one by one another will there be true freedom for all, women included. Under the current concrete conditions of Swaziland, the first phase must necessarily involve the struggle to overthrow the absolute monarch and building a people’s democratic republic through which the foundations of socialism will be built.

Issued by the Communist Party of Swaziland

Kenneth Kunene
General Secretary
+27 72 594 3971


Njabulo Dlamini
International Organiser
Mobile: +2687 603 9844

Email: cpswa.org@gmail.com
Facebook: Communist Party Of Swaziland – CPS
Twitter: @CPSwaziland

06 March 2019

Communist Party of Swaziland's Central Committee Statement: A year of intensification of mass defiance against the Mswati regime and the role of international solidarity in the fight for freedom in Swaziland


The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) held its first Central Committee meeting of 2019 from 1 to 3 March 2019 in the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa. The Central Committee meets for the first time since the highly successful Party’s December 2018 Summer School, the benefits of which are already manifesting themselves in the various facets of the struggle for freedom in Swaziland.

CPS General Secretary, Comrade Kenneth Thokozani Kunene, presented the Political Report, reflecting on the past year, 2018, especially the heroic struggles of the workers under the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA). During 2018, workers bravely fought for their various demands and also made the further demand for the democratisation of our country. The Report also commended the people of Swaziland in their mass rejection of the sham tinkhundla elections. Tinkhundla elections are nothing but a game for the monarch to form a toy parliament to rubberstamp the monarch’s decisions. In 2013 Mswati refashioned the tinkhundla system a “monarchical democracy; a meeting between the monarch and the ballot”, thus a system which places the monarch at the centre of everything, for the benefit of no one else but the monarch!

The Political Report also noted the need to intensify, by all material means necessary, the struggle against the Mswati autocracy. It unpacked the necessary material for the revolution in line with the CPS’s Programme of Action 2016-2020. Thus, in every analysis the Party has the duty to pay due regard to the stage of development of productive forces, along with production relations, and carefully analyse the stage of imperialism especially as it affects the struggles of the working class of the world.

To engage in all the above, the Central Committee has the duty to build a Party that is well-endowed with the necessary qualities for engaging in a fierce battle to the death against the Mswati regime, while at the same time building a Party that is capable and ready to run the country.

Workers’ struggles and latest developments in Swaziland

The Central Committee also noted, but was not surprised by, the Mswati regime’s continuing suppression of workers’ rights. Mswati’s court first decided to postpone a legal public workers’ strike action which had been scheduled for 25 September 2018, and in January 2019 quashed the strike action altogether after directives from Mswati’s office. It is a fact well known by the population of Swaziland that Mswati controls the judiciary. This reality has been in existence since 12 April 1973 when the late Sobhuza II abrogated the 1968 constitution, banned political parties and political freedoms and thereafter bestowed all executive, legislative and judicial powers upon the monarch. Thenceforth, the monarch would rule by royal decree, using the army to enforce royal laws.

The Central Committee called upon workers of Swaziland to strengthen their unity even further and to also see through the whole court façade and realise that the courts of Swaziland are there to serve the interests of the monarch and its allies, not the general population. As such, only a defiance campaign that involves the widest and vast majority of the people of Swaziland is the only reliable tool which will ever bring hope to the people of Swaziland that they will soon be free.

The Mswati regime has been victimising workers for the better part of 2018. 2019 has not been any different. In the 2018 workers’ strike actions, the royal police shot at workers with live bullets, injuring many, assaulted a lot more and arrested others.

The Central Committee also noted the arrest of two leaders of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, who are also leaders of the CPS, Comrade Mcolisi Ngcamphalala and Comrade Njabulo Dlamini. They were arrested on 11 January 2019 while on their way to attend their union’s meeting, with the police making it clear that they were going to “fix” them. They were later released on bail. Their case continued on Tuesday 5 March 2019, at the Manzini Magistrate’s Court, where a trial date was set; 21 May 2019. The CPS will continue to support all workers who have been victimised by the regime.

Workers under the Correctional Services department have already spoken out against the mandatory docking of their salaries in order to finance Mswati’s 51st birthday celebration coming up on 19 April this year. Mandatory cuts are also expected in the police and army forces, as it happened last year when Mswati celebrated his 50th birthday which impoverished the nation by over E1 billion (over US$70 million). As usual, the regime, through the chiefs, will once again force communities to donate to this unnecessary birthday celebration.

The Central Committee also committed its support to workers under Eswatini Electricity Company who defied Mswati’s courts and engaged in a strike action from 28 February 2019, demanding justice in the payment system. While the company’s executive management received their salary alignment in 2016, the rest of the heavily exploited workers have been forced to wait and told to understand! Party activists are called upon to continue giving practical solidarity to the workers in this fight.

On Mswati’s message and 2019/2020 national budget

The CPS Central Committee noted the lifeless speeches delivered by Mswati during the opening of parliament and his finance minister’s budget. As usual, both speeches reflected one reality: everything done by the government is to fulfil Mswati’s dreams, not those of the people! So clear was this that as soon as Mswati had delivered his speech, members of parliament organised gifts for him, to thank him for his speech. To top it all, they looted public coffers to purchase these gifts!

From the outset, the minister of finance was clear in the budget speech delivered on 27 February 2019 that he was thankful only to his boss, Mswati, “for the mandate and direction that he gave the Nation and his Government in his speech” at the opening of parliament on 8 February 2019. He added that as Mswati’s handpicked government they will continue to strive for his “Vision 2022” in which Swaziland, in Mswati’s head, will be a first world country! To achieve this people’s nightmare, the minister of finance called upon the whole nation to sacrifice. He did not call for any sacrifice from the chief looters of the Swazi economy, Mswati and his family.

From the crux of the messages from Mswati and his finance minister, it then becomes an exercise in futility to try and influence the budget towards this direction or the other. Mswati is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. He has the power to dissolve parliament as and when he wishes. The people of Swaziland expect nothing to be done by the members of parliament in challenging the pro-monarch budget and direction of government. It is therefore no surprise to the CPS that a lot of money is splashed on the security forces, for the suppression of human rights, and nothing is done to improve the education and health sectors, both of which affect the greater population.

Cultural boycott campaign against the Mswati autocracy

The CPS 2018 Summer School had already engaged on the necessity of isolating and exposing the absolute monarch internationally and proposed that the cultural boycott against Swaziland be intensified. The Central Committee thus engaged thoroughly on this, noting that a discussion with the Swaziland Solidarity Network will be crucial in this process. This is one of the key issues that the upcoming National Conference of the CPS will engage and resolve on.

Jacob Zuma’s vote of confidence for the tinkhundla system an affront to the oppressed people of Swaziland

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Swaziland also reflected on the counterrevolutionary manoeuvres of former South African and African National Congress (ANC) president, Jacob Zuma, during his visit to his friend Mswati on Saturday 2 February 2019. Jacob Zuma, during a church service in Mswati’s main palace, Lozitha, publicly gave a full vote of confidence to the oppressive tinkhundla system of Swaziland. Zuma delivered a speech and said Swaziland’s tinkhundla system of governance would last for a long time because the country’s authorities believe in prayer and divine guidance from God. In other words, God, according to Zuma, still wishes that the people of Swaziland be oppressed a little bit more, and that poverty deepens further. Zuma is well aware that, due to tinkhundla governance, close to 70 percent of the people of Swaziland today survive on less than US$2 a day, and that the situation has been worsening over the years.

It is a well-documented fact that Jacob Zuma has for the past thirteen years, at least, been one of the handful useful fools, outside Swaziland, on Mswati’s service, always ready to spread the absolute monarch’s propaganda. His public ejaculations, in praise of Mswati and the brutal tinkhundla system have been widely condemned by the oppressed people of Swaziland.

The world must remember that this is not the first time Zuma has publicly praised Mswati’s brutal rule. In April 2016 Zuma visited Swaziland apparently for talks with Mswati on matters relating to the Southern African Customs Union. He was also the guest of honour at Mswati’s 48th birthday bash in Nhlangano, a small town south of Swaziland. Zuma made a speech during that celebration praising Mswati’s “wisdom” for his ruling style and also suggested that the democratically elected members of South Africa’s National Assembly must follow the “wisdom” of the absolute monarch in order to solve problems in South Africa.

The Central Committee noted that people like Zuma have been allowed to freely visit Swaziland and praise the tinkhundla system for far too long without any serious repercussions. The CPS therefore sees such people as nothing but counterrevolutionaries masquerading as pro-African souls. If Zuma had any revolutionary morality left in his head he would be ashamed of himself. The Central Committee therefore condemned Zuma for his acts and called upon the democracy loving people of Swaziland and South Africa to also condemn such unrepentant loose cannons.

CPS Central Committee condemns South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to Swaziland and his ignorant acts while in the country

The president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, visited Swaziland apparently on a “working visit” over the weekend. He held talks with Mswati, watched approvingly as money belonging to the people of Swaziland was being wasted during Mswati’s buganu alcohol drinking festival, and then proclaimed “Now is the time for economic development.” On the other hand, the Mswati regime has been singing Ramaphosa’s praises for being the first ever seating South African president to attend the buganu alcohol drinking festival, boasting about Ramaphosa’s sheer approval of the monarchical dictatorship.

The Joint Bilateral Commission on Cooperation (JBCC) apparently formed part of the discussions between Ramaphosa and Mswati. This JBCC was first secretly entered into between South Africa and Swaziland in 2004, but was exposed in 2011 when the South African government under the leadership of Jacob Zuma had agreed to give R2.4 billion (about US$170 million dollars) to Mswati as a loan to save Swaziland from a disastrous economic situation which was a direct product of the tinkhundla system.

While in Swaziland, Ramaphosa took seriously the duty of flashing his most cherished chameleonic colours and pretended that Swaziland is a normal peaceful and democratic country. The current president of the ANC, Ramaphosa pretended to have no idea that the ANC in its 54th National Conference reflected on the state of the Swazi monarchy and made it clear that Mswati wields executive, judicial and legislative power, that is, is an absolute monarch. The ANC further stated in its resolutions that the people of Swaziland still suffer gross human rights violations and called for the release of all political prisoners, including South African national Comrade Amos Mbedzi who is serving 85 years in Mswati’s jail for his selfless contribution to the struggle for freedom in Swaziland.

It is therefore a tragedy that Ramaphosa has instead chosen to follow his predecessor and prop up the absolute monarch, instead of siding with the people of Swaziland! This effectively means that the South African government will continue to save the absolute monarch, one self-inflicted economic disaster after another, and thus worsen the situation of the people at least in so far as fundamental rights are concerned.

While this cosy cooperation between Ramaphosa and Mswati is depraved, it is nauseating that Ramaphosa went a step further and attempted to rewrite history books with regard to the role played by Swaziland during the struggle against apartheid. He attempted to clean the image of the absolute monarch in this regard. The fact is that the banning of political parties in Swaziland was sponsored by the apartheid regime. This was an attempt by the apartheid regime to crush the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) in Swaziland. For the most part the regime succeeded because Swaziland’s security forces intensified their collaboration with the apartheid regime; arresting, torturing and giving practical assistance to the abduction of ANC and SACP revolutionaries into the apartheid guillotine.

In 1978, Sobhuza’s Prime Minister, Prince Maphevu, was clear that Swaziland was against the imposing of sanctions against the apartheid regime and begged, on behalf of the apartheid regime, the United States to ignore sanction calls by the United Nations and leaders like OR Tambo and others, slandering them as he did so.

As he butchered history, Ramaphosa did not even mention the role of ordinary Swazi nationals who bravely fought against the apartheid regime, with some even participating in the armed struggle. He was only interested in clinching business deals with Mswati, at the expense of the oppressed people of Swaziland.

The CPS Central Committee thus condemned Ramaphosa’s damaging acts, including the visit, and called for the intensification of solidarity work in South Africa and beyond. This solidarity work will contribute in placing the history of our struggle in the correct perspective and galvanise the ordinary people of the world, as opposed to the elites who constantly sell out, to offer solidarity to the people of Swaziland and thus maximise defiance in the maximum number of times.

April 12: CPS to commemorate the day when Sobhuza banned political parties and crowned himself as a dictator

12 April 2019 will mark 46 years since Mswati’s father, the late Sobhuza II, banned political parties and movements, and bestowed all executive, legislative and judicial powers upon the monarch. This is an important day in the calendar of the struggle for freedom in Swaziland. The CPS will do everything practicable to ensure that this day is commemorated and that more people, inside and outside Swaziland, rise up against the tinkhundla system.

CPS Central Committee pays tribute to Hugo Chavez on the anniversary of his death and reiterates the Party’s support for the people of Venezuela against imperialist aggression

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Swaziland joins the entire world in paying tribute to Hugo Chávez, the late leader of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez died in Caracas on 5 March 2013 at 16h25 (Venezuelan time). Chavez remains one of the most inspiring working class revolutionaries the world has ever seen. By following an economy based on solidarity, he was able to uplift the economic situation of so many Venezuelans and also of people beyond Venezuela. Notably, Venezuela has donated heating oil to hundreds of thousands of poor people in the United States who have continuously been left to freeze in the cold during the devastating winter months by the United States capitalist regime. The awe-inspiring CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program, an incredible act of solidarity by the people of Venezuela, was launched by Chavez in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina which had left untold devastation on poor people, especially after having been abandoned by the George Bush regime.

Chavez died, but the revolutionary fires he helped to lit continue to burn, inspiring billions of workers across the globe, including Swaziland, to forge ahead and wage relentless struggles against the exploitation and oppression of one by another.

The Central Committee also extends its solidarity to the people of Venezuela who are currently engaged in averting an imperialist aggression led by the United States. The United States has been attempting to impose an unelected individual as president of Venezuela when the people of Venezuela freely elected President Nicolás Maduro during the country’s democratic elections in May 2018. It is important to mention that the political system of Venezuela is a democratic and transparent one; hence one who loses an election simply has to abide by the people’s popular voice. It was in this spirit that President Maduro easily respected and accepted the outcome when his party lost the National Assembly election in 2015.

The intentions of the United Sates in Venezuela are about the control of Venezuela’s natural resources, primarily oil, and placing its foot firmly in Latin American politics in order to protect its economic interests.

Support for the upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week 2019

The Central Committee noted Israel’s intensification of the oppression of Palestinians. There is urgent need to engage in, and intensify our, practical solidarity with the people of Palestine, and particularly add more voices to the Palestinian cause. The Communist Party of Swaziland will thus be part of all practical efforts to ensure the increase and amplification of such voices inside Swaziland to condemn Zionist Israel’s occupation of Palestine, beginning with the upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week.

This year the Israeli Apartheid Week will be held from 1 to 7 April 2019.

CPS Annual National Conference to be held in April 2019

The Communist Party of Swaziland will convene its Annual National Conference from 18 to 22 April 2019. The Conference will take stock of current events, trace, using the materialist conception of history, their historical background, and draw up a concise plan for the implementation of the Party’s Programme of Action. The context of the way forward will be the intensification of the national and international defiance campaign against the Mswati autocracy. The focus of the conference shall be mainly on the practical ways to maximise defiance in the maximum number of sites for the total overthrow of the Mswati autocracy.

Issued by the Communist Party of Swaziland

Kenneth Kunene
General Secretary
+27 72 594 3971

Njabulo Dlamini
International Organiser
Mobile: +2687 603 9844

Facebook: Communist Party of Swaziland – CPS
Twitter: @CPSwaziland

24 January 2019

Communique on upcoming Swaziland public sector workers’ national strike action; Appeal for international solidarity

Introduction and background

Public sector unions of Swaziland jointly resolved on Friday 18 January 2019 to engage on a strike action from 28 January 2019 until their demand for pay increase is met by the government. This will be the biggest strike action by civil servants in many years. The unions further stated that, “All Government systems shall be down” during the entire strike action. “These include Government offices, ministries, departments, schools, clinics, healthcare centres and hospitals, transport departments and many others”.

The central demand is the Cost of Living Adjustment (CoLA) which was last reviewed in the year 2016/2017 financial year. To date, civil servants have been robbed 14.5 per cent which has been dilapidated by inflation from their salaries during the financial years 2017/2018 and 2018/2019.

In the financial year 2017/2018, the inflation rate, in the context of Swaziland, stood at 7.85 percent while in 2018/2019 financial year the inflation rate is at 6.55 percent. In reality this means the buying power of civil servants has been cut by 14.5 percent. This is a huge and unbearable percentage regarding the fact that basic needs and services prices keep escalating.

It is important to recall that close to 70 percent of the people of Swaziland survive on less than US$2 a day. This number includes workers.

It is from this background that civil servants have resolved to engage on a national shutdown, beginning on Monday 28 January 2019 until their demand for cost of living adjustment is met.

Public sector unions of Swaziland

There are four unions which organise in the public sector:
1.    Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT)
2.    Swaziland National Association of Government Accountants Personnel (SNAGAP)
3.    Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA)
4.    National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU).

All the four unions are affiliated to the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), which has about 20 affiliates in total.

Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT)

SNAT is a craft union that organises teachers. It is the biggest affiliate of TUCOSWA and has a membership of over 14 000 teachers drawn from 15 branches. Workers in this sector are always overburdened with the very high student-teacher ratio, lack of learning equipment, including lack of basic needs for the sustenance of life in general.

Swaziland Nurses’ Association (SNA)

SNA is another craft union that organises nurses. Last year, 2018, nurses went on strike, protesting against drug shortages and vital equipment in public hospitals and clinics. The problem of drugs shortages has beleaguered public hospitals and clinics for a long time. This is mainly due to the government’s failure to pay suppliers while at one and the same time spending billions in monies on vanity projects and Mswati’s birthday parties. It is now a well-documented fact that in the same year when the drugs shortage situation worsened, which forced nurses to go on strike, Mswati spent over E1 billion (About US$74 million) to throw a big 50th birthday party for himself, which included the purchasing of a second private for him, costing the public over US$30 million, and a wrist watch costing E21 million (US$1.6 million), among other expensive articles doe himself, his fifteen wives, his many children whose number remains unknown, his brothers and sisters and his many friends.

While the shortage of vital equipment is detrimental to patients, it also exposes nurses to health hazards. Everyday nurses have to treat patients without vital protective clothing and equipment, be it in theatre or other departments.

Swaziland National Association of Government Accountants Personnel (SNAGAP)

SNAGAP is a public sector union representing public service employees drawn from the accounting profession within the service. They are stationed in government departments, including municipalities. These workers find themselves under constant pressure. Sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, Mswati, has the known tendency of forcing the workers to redirect public funds towards his numerous, usually impromptu and unbudgeted for, overseas trips. The result is that the workers are made scapegoats whenever such scandals come into the open. Strictly speaking, they find themselves having to choose between a rock and a hard place; release the funds illegally under Mswati’s command or refuse and thus join the close to 50 percent of the unemployed population. In the latter instance, there is also the additional risk of victimisation.

National Public Service and Allied Workers’ Union (NAPSAWU)

NAPSAWU is an industrial union that organises government workers from all sectors, excluding the abovementioned. They include workers in agriculture, transport, workers from different government departments, workers in clinics and hospitals workers but who are not nurses and doctors, school workers who are not teachers, and so on.

Build-up activities towards the 28 January strike action

The unions collectively agreed to engage on joint build-up activities towards the beginning of the strike action. Already joint union membership meetings have been taking place since Monday 21 January 2019 all over the country to mobilise for the January 28 action. The aim of these activities is to conscientise the whole population on the plight of workers while at the same time putting pressure upon the regime to give in to workers’ demands.

The unions reached the conclusion to engage in the national shutdown after all means to engage with the regime had failed. The regime has no will whatsoever to meet the demands of the workers. For two consecutive financial years the government has maintained the ridiculous offer of 0.00 percent during negotiation processes claiming that there is no money to pay for the increase, yet the funds to finance the royal family’s luxurious lifestyle are always available.

Intimidation and threats against workers

Since the resolution to engage in a strike action, the regime has tried all means to intimidate workers and their leaders. Mswati’s prime minster, Mr Ambrose Dlamini, has already gone public, using the media monopoly that the regime enjoys, trying to demobilise workers against the strike. He has also instructed that primary and high school principals suppress teachers who partake in the strike and also summoned the principals into a meeting to be held tomorrow, Friday 25 January 2019. The Swaziland National Association of Teachers has also spoken strongly against such machinations. The intention of the regime is to divide and rule over the workers, because principals are workers too and are affected by the terrible socioeconomic conditions that the Mswati regime has created.

The royal Swaziland police have also been following union leaders and other union members, trying to intimidate them. These scare tactics were undertaken even before the unions’ joint meeting, with the arrest of two teachers on Friday 11 January 2019, who were on their way to their union’s meeting. The regime is able to do this and get away with it plainly because it is unaccountable to any institution in the country.

Where the Mswati autocracy spends public funds

It is important to reiterate that Mswati is the last absolute monarch in the sub-Saharan Africa region. The absolute monarchy was created after the late king, Sobhuza II, abrogated the 1968 constitution which guaranteed the rights to freedom of association, movement and speech and also created a constitutional multiparty democracy. Sobhuza abrogated the constitution on 12 April 1973 and bestowed upon himself all executive, legislative and judicial powers. Thenceforth he would rule by decree, which would be imposed upon the people, with his armed forces punishing any known or suspected dissident.

Political parties remain banned in Swaziland. Parliamentary elections are held every five years, the last of which were in 2018. These elections are contested on individual basis and no organised groupings are allowed. Mswati also appoints about a third of the members of parliament. The final product is a puppet parliament, comprising of the House of Assembly and the House of Senate (which wholly comprises of unelected members) through which Mswati implements his unilaterally taken decisions. Mswati is empowered by his constitution to dissolve parliament as and when he pleases. He is not accountable to anyone, nor is he accountable to the constitution. Any person who dares to have a different opinion from his automatically invites constant harassment from security forces. Many human rights activists have been arrested by the regime, while others have been tortured and some also killed.

It is in the above context that Mswati continues to waste public funds satisfying his thirst for all things flashy.

The hundreds of millions in monies that are spent every year on the many unnecessary “cultural” activities, often without disclosure of the amounts spent, continue to drain the economy. The Umhlanga ceremony is one of those activities; Mswati uses young girls, who have to dance bare-chested in front of him and tourists, to raise money for his family. It is also during the Umhlanga period where many young girls are trafficked.

The phenomenon of big royal family delegation teams during Mswati’s international trips (Dubai, Italy, USA, London, Qatar, etc.) is another drain to the economy.

Every year between February and March, Mswati organises a drinking-spree festival wherein he demands that women deliver marula brew to one of his many royal residences. Again money is wasted on this useless celebration. These millions could be spent on education and health.

All of these facts and many other unrecorded extravagant spending sprees have convinced the workers that the government has the money, but only that it does not want to pay workers what is due to them, and also does not wish to provide basic needs and services for the general population, especially in clinics and hospitals.

Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA)

As already mentioned above, all these public sector unions are affiliated to TUCOSWA. TUCOSWA is the only progressive workers’ federation in Swaziland. The regime has already attempted to counter the federation by forming its own conservative one. This was after all violent attempts to cripple TUCOSWA had failed.

TUCOSWA was formally launched in 2012 after a few years of deliberations among the different unions. The Mswati regime, at first, refused to recognise and register the federation as the true national representative of workers. It was due to intense workers’ practical actions and international pressure that the regime found itself with no option but to recognise and register TUCOSWA.

Recognition and registration did not mean that the regime’s war against TUCOSWA was over. Victimisation of affiliates has been one way of attempting to cripple the federation. Last week’s actions by the regime, arresting leaders of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, the biggest TUCOSWA affiliate, cannot be separated from the regime’s attempts to destroy TUCOSWA. It is therefore important that as the working class organisations of the world offer solidarity to the public sector unions they also bear in mind that such solidarity also necessarily goes towards the strengthening of TUCOSWA.

While the 28 January strike action will be led by unions within TUCOSWA, and not TUCOSWA as a whole, it is important to note the following listed demands for which TUCOSWA marched last year. The Mswati regime has not responded to these demands, and it is expected that the federation will continue to protest until the demands are met.

The TUCOSWA demands are as follows:
1.    Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Public Sector and SOE Workers.
2.    E3,500 (US$ 254.07) National Minimum Wage.
3.    E1,500 (US$108.89) Elderly Grants.
4.    Legalise Solidarity Strikes.
5.    Increase Funding for Education and Health.
6.    Pass the Amended Employment Bill.
7.    Away with Public Enterprise Unit (PEU) Act.
8.    Schools' Support staff must be employed by government.
9.    No to Labour Brokers.
10. No to Scab Labour.
11. No to taxation of benefits.
12. No to Value Added Tax on electricity.
13. No to unaffordable E500.00 passports.
14. Stop the looting at the Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF)
15. No to 12 hours shift without compensation.
16. Give back land to Vuvulane Farmers.
17. Reinstate long service benefit.

A call for solidarity with workers of Swaziland

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) calls for international solidarity from the working class in support of the workers of Swaziland as they engage the absolute monarch during this upcoming strike action scheduled to start on 28 January 2019. Support may be in any form that the specific organisation deems necessary within its means.

The Mswati regime controls virtually the whole media space in Swaziland. This is, partly, why the struggles of the people of Swaziland too often remain obscured from the rest of the world. The heavy censorship has in the large parts of the world unaware of the atrocities that are ongoing in Swaziland. The CPS will be updating the world as the workers engage in the strike action. Public pronouncements by organisation, in solidarity with the workers, either in a form of a statement or other, will be of great importance in this regard. Needless to say, without international solidarity, the struggles of workers Swaziland will continue to go unnoticed by the rest of the world.

For more on the struggles of Swaziland and examples of the Mswati regime’s brutality, including the CPS’s reactions thereto, kindly visit https://liciniso.blogspot.com/.

Issued by the Communist Party of Swaziland

Communist Party of Swaziland calls for solidarity with public sector workers of Swaziland

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) stands with public sector workers of Swaziland in their strike action. The workers demand a 7.85 ...