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

21 January 2019

Statement of the Public Sector Associations of Swaziland [PSAS] on the strike action to begin on 28 January 2019


1.    Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT);


2.    Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP)

3.    Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA);

4.    National Public Services and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU)
On the Cost of Living Adjustment (CoLA) for the years 2017/2018 and 2018/ 2019
____________________________
1. Preamble

We, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP), the Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA) and the National Public Services and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) as worker organisations for over 25 000 workers under the employ of the Government of Swaziland have been engaging with our employer on the Cost of Living Adjustment [CoLA] for the last two (2) financial years 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 in vain, doing so whilst united in consciousness in pursuit of workers’ rights. To this end therefore, we;
I.              Acknowledge the indisputable fact that our members are now living far below the normal breadline since the Government has dismally failed to adjust our salaries for two consecutive financial years, resulting to a 14.4 % salary deduction.

II.            Mindful of the lavish government spending on non-priority and capital projects such as the construction of the International Convention Centre [ICC], funding of festivities such as the Umhlanga Reed Dance, 50/50 celebrations for the King’s Birthday and Independence Day Celebrations and catering for huge delegations to international trips.

III.           Inspired by past practice and logic that even though cash liquidity problems can be sung nicely by those responsible for the public purse, workers’ salaries such as the Cost of Living Adjustment have always been a priority, rightfully so, in order to stimulate economic growth by pumping money to workers for same to be circulated in the economy.

IV.          Convinced that, in this country of our forefathers, money is in abundance since there has never been a suspension or cutting on spending for cultural events, delegations and spending on vanity capital projects as highlighted above.

From the afore-going, we therefore;
Declare that should the Government of Swaziland fail to table a proposed and improved salary adjustment by the 27th of January 2019, all the Government systems shall be brought to a complete halt on the 28th of January 2019 as workers would be having zero motivation to go to work.

2. Attendant problems of the government’s fiscal ill-discipline

As a result of the fiscal ill-discipline on the part of Government, the following societal problems have reared their ugly heads.
● Shortage of drugs and other materials in public clinics, health centres and hospitals
● Stagnant Orphaned and Vulnerable Children [OVC] fees that are paid to schools, thereby rendering schools ungovernable
● Non repairing of public roads, in the midst of the heavy rains that have swept across the country in recent times
● Ever swelling public debt as Government fails to pay her suppliers
● Non delivery of basic services to the populace such as safe drinking water and expansion of the rural electrification project
● Cessation of the construction and upgrading of essential public roads such as the Sicunusa-Nhlangano road
● Underdevelopment of rural agriculture through the Rural
● Development Areas Programme – the mainstay of our economy
● Lack of funding for the Small and Medium Enterprises [SMEs]
● Non improvement of the 63% poverty level in the country
● Shrinking scholarships for our children who have enrolled in tertiary education
● Proposal of high taxes to fund the country’s deficit
● Non remittance of monies to the Public Service Pensions Fund – A retirement fund for Public Servants.
Whilst these problems are deepening in our society, the Government has continued to;
● Increase the budget for the state security organs which are the army, police and correctional services
● Unrelentingly increased recruitment in the aforementioned departments
● Drastically decrease recruitment in other significant departments such as Education, Health and Public Service
● Maintain the high numbers of the delegations that go abroad
● Maintain the high taxes on salaries and tariffs on utilities
● Increase funding of state events as it was witnessed during the 50/50 celebrations, Umhlanga and Incwala.
● Spend over E40 million in fuelling cars, paying for allowances and providing daily meals for the members of the Royal Police Service [RSP] who were dispatched to various schools around the country from October 2018 to run external examinations.

3. Conclusion 

As the Public Sector Unions in the country, we will be engaging on a national strike from 28 January 2019 and as such we call upon every concerned Swazi, from all walks of life, who associates with the problems that were highlighted above to partake in this National activity.

All Government systems shall be down during these days. These include Government offices, Ministries, departments, schools, clinics, healthcentres and hospitals, transport department and many others. Let us ALL stand up and be counted in this imperative exercise of making the Government of Swaziland to be accountable to the people. Now is the Time!!!!

Let us be united in consciousness as a people. Both the country and the future belongs to all of us, both great and small. Let us shape our destiny..!!

Unity of purpose, a force unparalleled!!!

Issued By: Public Sector Associations of Swaziland [PSAS] Secretariat 
Sikelela Dlamini       –          SNAT Secretary General 
Mobile                        –          +268 7626 6808/+268 7639 6803/+268 7926 6803
Emal-                          snatgs02@gmail.com

Celumusa Tembe –             NAPSAWU General Secretary
Mobile                                    –          +268 7604 7425                                          
Email                          –          gs@napsawu.org.sz

Dumile Dlamini        –          SNAGAP Secretary General
Mobile                                    –          +268 7802 6302
Emai                           –          dumilemthupha@gmail.com

Sibusiso Lushaba   –          SNA Secretary General
Mobile                                    –          +268 7802 6303
Email                          –          Mahlelihle@gmail.com

02 January 2019

Summary of the 2018 Communist Party of Swaziland Summer School held 21 to 29 December 2018


The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) held its Annual Summer School from 21 to 29 December 2018 in the Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. The school was held under the theme “Maximum Defiance in the Maximum Number of Sites”. It was attended by delegates from Swaziland and South Africa. Delegates were particularly drawn from all the four commissions in which the CPS is organising: Workers; Peasants; Women; Youth and Students.

The school also received support and input from fraternal organisations, which included the South African Communist Party (SACP), the National Health, Education and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU), the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA), South African National Civic Organisations (SANCO) and the New Communist Party of Yugoslavia (NKPJ).

The need for revolutionaries to study philosophy

The school emphasised the need for revolutionaries to study philosophy.  A study of philosophy helped greatly on the analysis of the Swazi terrain, including its society, and the whole world. Through the dedicated study of philosophy, delegates were able to comprehend that the history of Swaziland, just like the history of other societies, is a history of class struggles, bar the primitive stage of human society. Those who still fail to realise the reality of a class struggle that has been ongoing in Swaziland and instead see Swaziland as the last “true” African cultural village have, along with this failure, failed to notice the oppression of the people by the tinkhundla regime.

The method of Marx and Engels, the materialist conception of history, remains the most advanced approach through which revolutionaries study the world. It is not merely the understanding of Swazi society that is important. Rather, the point is to change that society, as Karl Marx remarked some 174 years ago. As such, the task of Communist Party cadres is not merely to get an understanding of the type of oppression that the people are undergoing in Swaziland. They have been called by history to stop this oppression by mobilising the masses for maximum defiance against the absolute monarch, for its overthrow and the preparations for the construction of a democratic republic towards socialism.

The economic system of Swaziland

In Swaziland the dominant mode of production and exchange is capitalism. There are feudalist elements, however, which remain strong. A majority of the people of Swaziland have to present themselves to be exploited in capitalist industries and in return receive meagre wages enough for them to return to work for further exploitation. The capitalists also rely on the absolute monarch to force the people back to work when they go on strike and thus help keep wages very low.

The monarch doubles as feudal lord and capitalist. Mswati holds capitalist interests in many companies while at the same time controls the land and the people as a feudal lord. This absolute monarch, the last in sub-Saharan Africa, has already ruined the businesses of many of his capitalist partners by applying feudal principles in their businesses: the demand for free shares; demand for donations to the monarch as a sign of endorsement and respect; demand for loans to the monarch which are never paid, etc.

The monarch controls vast tracts of the land as a feudal lord, and in administering the land has deployed chiefs in the communities. Both the feudal lord and the chiefs have the power to evict the people or grab some parts of their land as and when they wish. They also force the people to provide tribute labour to the monarch and the chiefs. The people of Swaziland do not own the land. About 77 percent of the people of Swaziland reside in the rural areas as peasants, although a large number of them also have to present themselves to capitalists for the exploitation of their labour power. Hence the worker-peasant alliance in the fight against the tinkhundla regime is one of the key requisites for the success of the revolution in the special conditions of Swaziland.

Mass mobilisation towards insurrection

The task of ensuring maximum defiance in the maximum number of sites involves the mobilisation of the motive forces of our struggle in the conditions of Swaziland; the workers and peasants. The duty to mobilise women, youth and students is an inevitable one in this regard.

It is within the working class and rural folk that we find the close to 70 percent who, due to the tinkhundla system, have been forced to survive on less than US$2 a day. These are the people who will benefit the most with the advent of freedom.

CPS cadres have the duty to do practical work in the conscientisation of the oppressed masses in their various categories. This is not conscientisation for its sake, but to build and strengthen a revolutionary mass capable of rising up and overthrowing the ruling tinkhundla regime. Our cadres return to their various communities ready to implement lessons learned in order to ensure that the CPS is successful in the revolution’s strategic objectives.

Understanding strategy and tactics in the Swazi revolution

A detailed and clear strategy and tactics, guided by the most advanced revolutionary theory, helped delegates to comprehend that the revolution’s strategic objectives – the overthrow of the tinkhundla regime, the building of a democratic republic towards socialism – cannot be betrayed.

As material conditions change, tactical manoeuvres or tactical flexibility will be important as we fight against the enemy of the people. The school understands too well that these tactical manoeuvres are carried out without changing the strategy of the Party. Cadres of the CPS were able to realise the necessity of an intense study of materialist dialectics in order to understand this aspect.

Tribute to the workers of Swaziland: A call for deepened unity

The school paid special tribute to the workers of Swaziland for standing up for their rights, marching through the streets of the country, notwithstanding extreme violence from the regime’s security forces. Party cadres volunteered to take up the duty to strengthen the unity of workers organised under the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA). Undertaking this task involves organising the unorganised and getting more unions to affiliate into TUCOSWA.

Workers of Swaziland have vowed to shut down the tinkhundla regime in 2019 as they fight for their demands. The school thus engaged on a clear and detailed strike strategy, but looked beyond the planned workers’ strikes in 2019. This is expected to filter through in the 2016-2020 CPS Programme of Action.

Upholding internationalism as a critical characteristic of the CPS

The CPS is an internationalist organisation. The school saw the need to engage in practical activities in isolating Mswati, both locally and internationally. Through its campaigns, the CPS aims to starve the monarch, while at the same time isolating the monarch locally and internationally. There must be no comfortable space for the monarch.

The CPS will strengthen the cultural boycott campaign in order to profile the Swazi revolution. The Party understands, of course, that this campaign has been chiefly led by the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) since the year 2011. The CPS has thus been directed by the school to engage with the SSN and other relevant organisations and individuals for the intensification of the cultural boycott campaign. The Annual National Conference of the Party will thus take an opportunity to deliberate further on the implementation of this campaign.

While the school understood the need to mobilise solidarity for the Swazi revolution, delegates also stressed the need for the CPS to play a larger role in mobilising the masses of Swaziland to give solidarity to other oppressed people. The CPS is thus enjoined to convene a summit inside Swaziland on the question of Palestine during the Israeli Apartheid Week in 2019.

Reviving and strengthening Party campaigns

Since its launch on 9 April 2011, the CPS has sought to carry out practical work in raising the demands of the oppressed. This has essentially been through campaigns. The CPS has been running five campaigns: Break the Chains Campaign; Land for Food Campaign; Not Another Cent for Mswati; Signature Campaign; Red October Campaign. Through these campaigns, the CPS aims to expose the Mswati regime, mobilise the masses in the maximum number of sites, leading to a mass insurrection. To intensify the long standing campaign for the unbanning of political parties, the CPS will mobilise for and revive the April 12 movement. The goal is, as per our theme, to intensify and broaden mass defiance of the regime during the whole month of April every year. The role of workers as led by TUCOSWA, women, peasants, youth and students will be critical in this regard.

The School also saw the urgent need for the CPS to play a more practical role in the revival of the Swaziland Association of Students (SAS), which organises in primary and high schools. Strengthening the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), which organises in tertiary institutions, is an integral part in the revival of SAS. Delegates to the school also took an opportunity to congratulate the newly elected national leadership of SNUS, under the leadership of its president, Comrade Mlamuli Gumedze, for their election. The regime has intensified its attacks on the union and the student movement as a whole, because it wants to suppress the voice of the youth and students. The fight for free, quality and relevant education is at the heart of the strategy of the CPS.

The struggle continues!

Issued by the Communist Party of Swaziland

Contact:
Kenneth Kunene
General Secretary
+27 72 594 3971

Or

Njabulo Dlamini
International Organiser
Mobile: +2687 603 9844

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

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 ...