PRESS STATEMENT, 02 AUGUST 2012: STRIKING TEACHERS AND UNION LEADERS FIRED – KING REVERTS TO ARCHAIC METHODS TO SILENCE CALLS FOR DEMOCRACY
King Mswati III and his government never cease to amaze with the lengths to which they will go to protect their personal fiefdom.
Swaziland’s social services have all but ground to a halt over the past month as teachers and nurses took to a nation-wide strike in demand for a measly 4.5% salary increase.
In a shock move, government has reacted by firing a total of 250 teachers since Monday, as well as the entire executive of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT).
This salary increase demanded by teacher and other public servants would have been the first in 3 years and is way below inflation, which is at 9%.
Teachers, who were the first to strike, have been on strike for 5 weeks, and government has persistently refused to meet for negotiations. The strike was joined by other civil servants and has correctly escalated to a nation-wide call for a change in government and democratization.
In a democratic country, government would have sought to end the strike as soon as possible by addressing the grievances of the civil servants within legal processes due, in order to ensure that services provided to citizens are not interrupted.
However, in Swaziland, an autocratic Kingdom ran by King Mswati III and his iron-fisted Prime Minister, Barnabas Dlamini, government does not even care to negotiate with civil servant trade unions and has taken the illegal routes of either cutting salaries way beyond what is permissible by law with regards to an industrial action deadlock on the no-work-no-pay policy as well as firing over 250 teachers.
Summoning Nation to Cattle Kraal
Instead of following the legislated route of negotiating with workers’ unions, King Mswati III has instead summoned the nation to his cattle kraal on Monday August 6, 2012 as was done in ancient times when the King would summon subjects to give them his unilateral views on how things how the country will be run.
The King and his government like to guise such archaic methods as uniquely Swazi and very democratic, however in truth, it is never a two-way conversation, and it is never with the constituency that is aggrieved or affected by an issue and it is always with the intent of imposing decisions.
It is fact that the majority of those who will heed this call to the kraal will not be the working masses who are slaving at the same salary they have had for 3 years, whilst the King, the entire monarch, Parliament and Cabinet have received substantial increases in salaries, allowances and privileges over the years. This call to the kraal seeks to by-pass and suppress the rights of workers and citizens as legislated in the Constitution and labour law.
It is his way of confusing the international community who do not know how to react to this because they have nothing to compare it to. It is the same reason the King has managed to dupe the international community that the Tinkhundla system of government is democratic and not feudal.
The Swaziland Diaspora Platform calls upon King Mswati III and his Prime Minister, Barnabas Dlamini to heed the call of the people and give power to the people, the people of Swaziland want a government that is responsive to their needs and puts the development of the country as a priority that can only be done in a democratic dispensation.
The Swaziland Diaspora Platform
Spokesperons: Ntombenhle Khathwane – 072 189 9361