September 12, 2010

Trade unionists demand democracy in Swaziland

The TUC, affiliated unions and Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) organised a protest in front of the Swaziland High Commission on the occasion of Swaziland Democracy Day - 7 September 2010 - to mobilise support for democracy, good governance and respect for human rights in Swaziland. Similar events were organised by ITUC affiliates in their respective countries amidst reports of mass arrests of trade unionists and democracy activists by in Mbabane - capital of Swaziland.

Dougie Rooney, TUC President; Keith Sonnet, Deputy General Secretary, Unison; and Tony Dykes, Director, ACTSA took part in the protest and handed in a protest letter to the Swaziland High Commission. The TUC and ACTSA had requested a meeting with the Swazi High Commission, but were informed that she was not available. However, a High Commission official did have a brief meeting with the delegation who stressed the need for the protection of the rights of workers to assemble and protest peacefully. They also demanded constitutional reforms replacing the current undemocratic system and pointed out that their concerns had recently been vindicated in a special paragraph in the Report of the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards on Swaziland in June this year.

The letter condemned the persistent violations of human rights, deplored mass arrests made yesterday on the eve of the Democracy Day of Action and demanded that the people be allowed to demonstrate freely and peacefully. It also highlighted the need for: A democratic, people led constitution; the un-banning of all political parties and the implementation of multi-party, democratic elections in line with the SADC principles and guidelines for democratic elections; the removal of repressive legislation that inhibits political activity including the Suppression of Terrorism Act and the Public Services Bill; respect for the ILO mandate and implementation of conventions on labour standards; a free and independent media and judiciary; and the fairer distribution of national wealth through pro-poor policies and programmes, public expenditure and an end to corruption. (SADOCC)

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