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EU slams government over may day chaos

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MBABANE – The European Union is concerned that government has recently sought to stifle trade unio-nism in the country by repeatedly ‘interfering’ in union activities.

The EU expressed these sentiments through a press statement issued by the EU Delegation in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission accredited to the country.

The head of the EU Delegation is Hans Duynhouwer, who is based in Lesotho.

The latest of such interference, according to the EU, was during the recent May Day commemoration held on Tuesday at the Salesian sports ground in Manzini.

Shortly after the commencement of the celebrations police officers allegedly detained the Swaziland National Association of Teachers’ Secretary General, Muzi Mhlanga, and the Vice Chairperson of the Mbabane branch of the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), Oscar Nkambule.

The two unionists also alleged that the police assaulted them.

The police, however, said Nkambule was detained for allegedly attacking police officers at the event while Mhlanga insisted on going with him as he was being taken into custody.

This is according to Assistant Superintendent Stephen Dlamini, the Deputy Public Relations Officer of the police service.

"These events, coming after similar interventions by the authorities over the past months, set a disturbing trend of restricting citizens’ rights guaranteed by the Constitution," the statement said.

Government recently deregistered the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) barely a month after its launch citing that the Act governing industrial relations did not have a provision for its existence.

The EU Delegation also calls upon government to remember its undertaking in the Cotonou Agreement.

The Cotonou Agreement is a development treaty which serves as a framework of the EU’s relations with 79 developing countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP).

In the agreement government undertook to respect democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

In the Swaziland European Community Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative Programme for the period 2008 to 2013 signed in December 2007, the EU undertook to provide E640 million worth of aid to the country over the five year period.

 

... they are out of order - govt

MBABANE – Government views the European Unio-ns’ concerns over its treatment of TUCOSWA as out of order.

TUCOSWA is the acronym of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland.

Government’s views on the matter were articulated by the Press Secretary, Percy Simelane, in an interview yesterday afternoon.

He said government’s position in as far as TUCOSWA and any activities it organises are concerned, is actually in line with the Cotonou Agreement that the EU cited in its press statement yesterday.

Simelane said in this agreement and many others government has always stated that it will protect the rule of law in the country.

"We cannot, therefore, allow TUCOSWA, an organisation that wants to operate outside the law to undermine the rule of law. This organisation is unregistered and we cannot allow it to operate. The EU is, therefore, out of order," he said.

Simelane said government has been concerned by the repeated pronouncements by TUCOSWA that it would defy the ruling that it was in actual fact never registered.

"On May Day the police were there to maintain law and order as is their mandate. It is not law and order to proclaim that you will defy the law. Every country has the right to protect law and order. The EU cannot condone the flouting of the law," he said.

 

Simelane said government has not proscribed TUCOSWA but it has called on the union mother body to register properly and in accordance with the law.

"One thing that should be clear is that workers in this country can continue to meet but they have to meet under a lawful banner. It would set a bad precedent if we allowed an unregistered organisation to operate for that would mean we should also allow other unregistered entities to operate freely in our social space," the Government Spokesperson said.

 

 

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