Eswatini: Police Brutally Attack Defenseless Members of TUCOSWA Ahead of Sham Elections

The ITUC has condemned the actions of the government of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) as dozens of police in riot gear have attacked workers during a peaceful demonstration calling for pay rises over the past two days.

On 18 and 19 September, police fired stun grenades and physically assaulted the crowd in the main city Manzini. Several workers sustained serious injuries and needed hospital treatment. Two organisers of the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA), Sbonelo Tsabedze and Nhlanhla Tsabedze, were arrested while coordinating workers who had assembled by the Zheng Yong gate early in the morning. Several workers are reportedly still missing. The Swazi Police Union has also issued a press statement denouncing the brutal violence of their superiors, confirming that they were given orders to shoot and kill anyone who “disturbs” the deeply flawed upcoming elections in the country.

‘’We strongly condemn the unilateral banning of the protest action organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) that had been previously declared legal and in accordance with section 40 of the Industrial Relations Act. We call upon the police to unconditionally release all the arrested and detained workers and to account for all the workers who are currently missing,’’ said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

TUCOSWA has filed an urgent court application for a review of the situation with the High Court of Swaziland on 20 September.

"The ITUC demands an immediate and credible investigation into the violent events in Eswatini. The government has turned the country into a police state where police violence is used to silence any opposition and where the authorities simply dismiss dialogue with trade unions on basic human and trade union rights," said Burrow.

Swaziland is ranked 4 in the ITUC Global Rights Index.