Swaziland: Attacks on workers’ rights continue even 45 years after independence

In 45 years of independence from colonial rule, what has the Tinkhundla system done for the workers of Swaziland? The official unemployment rate stands at 28.5 per cent. Over 60 per cent of the population live in abject poverty, and the World Food Programme warns that the Swazi economy is losing US$92 million per year due to the long-term impacts of hunger.

Moreover, democratic institutions and trade unions are under constant attack. Political parties are excluded from participating in elections. There is no press freedom or independent judiciary, and the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland is still de-registered in order to prevent the unification of workers.

On 6 September, Swaziland’s Independence Day, an international panel of experts will hear directly from workers about how labour rights violations impact their lives. Panelists will present their findings after the hearing and identify where the attacks come from. The role and responsibility of trade unions and civil society in fighting against the violation of fundamental rights will be highlighted.

The panel consists of Alec Muchadehama (human rights lawyer and activist from Zimbabwe), Paul Verryn (ordained minister of the Methodist Church of Sothern Africa, anti-Apartheid activist and advocate for refugees in South Africa) and Nomthetho Simelane (former Lecturer in Political Science, University of Swaziland). It will be chaired by Jay Naidoo, founding General Secretary of Congress of South African Trade Unions and former Minister of Communications for South Africa.

“The international trade union movement is mobilising against attacks on the fundamental rights of Swazi workers,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). “We support demands for multi-party democracy and full respect of trade union rights.”

The Global Inquiry Panel Swaziland will start at 9h00 on 6 September 2013 and will take place in the George Hotel in Manzini. For more information please contact the following:

Makbule Sahan (ITUC): +32 488 778 486
Mduduzi Gina (TUCOSWA): +268 7-602-8510 or 7-611-9211
Zanele Matebula (COSATU): +27823008979, +27113394923

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 02 04 or +32 476 621 018