Global Week of Action on Swaziland

Keywords : Eswatini

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has organized from 6-10 September a 2021 a global week of action to back the people of eSwatini in their demand for a democratic government.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has been observing and actively engaging with the tragic developments in Swaziland, notably in the past 3 months. But fact being that it has happening since the royal state of emergency in 1973 which turned Swaziland into one big political prison for all its people.

The eSwatini protests that started on 25 June were called by pro-democracy campaigners following the killing of a university student in the month of May by the police forces. This was not an isolated incident. Extra judicial killings have become rampant, condoned by the authorities.

For that reason, COSATU outlined a plan of action for the week of the 6th – 10th September, 2021. This week coincides with the day during which Eswatini elites celebrate “Independence Day”. But activists around the world recognized it as the global week of action on Swaziland (GWoAS).

Through these actions, the COSATU wanted to condemn the normalization of brutal force by the state police against unarmed civilians of eSwatini.We are totally outraged by the more than 74 lives lost, several hundreds injured and more than 700 jailed for standing up for democracy, in just a space of 3 months. Said the International Dep. Secretary of COSATU Comrade Zanele Matebula.

COSATU has consistently stood in solidarity with the people of Swaziland, being with them in the trenches when it was not fashionable. At first it was alleged that COSATU does not speak for anyone in Swaziland, even though invited by the progressive forces and workers to offer solidarity. Recent events have only served to confirm the truth that the people of Swaziland have long been demanding democracy and justice.

We can only affirm that consistent and humble contribution has served to inspire the people to confidently reject oppression, systemic violence and abuse of power, hence taking the struggle in their own hands… It is the week we mark to expose the cruelty and social disparities affecting ordinary Swazis. The GWoAS came into being in 2010 through the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) a concept of COSATU and its affiliates, working together with progressive forces from both within Swaziland, South Africa and other parts of the world that support the struggle of the Swazi People.” stated the statement of COSATU

Through the GWoAS campaign, COSATU seeked to carry forward the work left by the fallen giants of the Swazi struggle, such Mario Masuku, Jan Sithole and others who died demanding democracy and people’s power through; the unbanning of political parties, the release of all political prisoners, towards an inclusive political dialogue, a transitional authority and a new democratic constitution for the country.

Since the beginning of the latest uprising eSwatini in June 2021, we have been horrified by the amount of real evidence, through videos and personal testimonies of people injured and murdered by the state police and military forces ordered by Mswati.” added comrade Zanele

The Global week of Action for Democracy in Swaziland, is an annual global campaign in which all human rights and democracy loving Swazis and internationals draw attention to and critique the so-called independence of Swaziland, the last absolute Monarchy in the World. Not many people know that in Swaziland the constitution falls under the King who still has the power to rule by decree. The complete lack of democracy, respect for basic human rights, good governance and rule of law has continued to define the face of Swazi politics for the last 41 painful years. There is a 63% poverty rate and a 52% unemployment rate coupled with a deep-seated economic divide between the filthy rich, royally connected few and the scavenging powerless commoners, which has widened to skull breaking levels of late. The imminent threat of the loss of more than 20,000 textile jobs due to the defiance of his majesty`s government, promises to exacerbate this dire situation to levels unheard off in the history of this great nation.

The Global Week of Action held by the COSATU was made up of Meetings/Petitions, virtual seminars, Boarder blockades and rallies.

Recalling the demands of the eSwatini trade union movement are the followings:

  • An end to the ongoing intimidation, threats of arrest, raids, and brutal beatings of pro-democracy campaigners by all agents of the government.
  • The release of all protestors detained by the army and the police.
  • An independent, UN-supervised investigation into the violence, murders and detentions.
  • The unbanning of political parties as a first step to a negotiated, political settlement.
  • A signed formal commitment by the government to a negotiated political reform process with eSwatini trade unions, civil society and political parties.

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