Magazine article New African

Clipping the Monarchy's Wings? (around Africa - Swaziland)

Magazine article New African

Clipping the Monarchy's Wings? (around Africa - Swaziland)

Article excerpt

Labour unions in Swaziland have for many years used their ability to hold public meetings to push for democratic reforms in this small kingdom where political gatherings were banned 28 years ago.

However, last November the unions overstepped the bounds of official tolerance when radical union members endorsed calls for the overthrow of King Mswati III at a meeting held in Nelspruit in neighbouring South Africa.

As New African went to press, the Swazi government, stung by the publicity generated by the South African meeting, had charged nine union leaders with misconduct.

The leaders of the Swaziland National Association of Civil Servants, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers and the Swaziland Nurses Association have all been accused of engaging in conduct incompatible with the regulations of the civil service board.

The union executives were said to have violated their contracts, which forbid the involvement of government employees in political affairs. Their passports have been confiscated, and arguments by their lawyers that the government was not lawfully empowered to take punitive action against them, have failed to convince the courts to drop the charges.

The meeting in South Africa was attended by teachers, civil servants, banned political parties and human rights groups. …

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