Unions ready to fight cops
MBABANE – Protesters will now arm to the teeth to defend them-selves and retaliate when the state’s security services assault them.
The protesters who are usually members of workers’ unions said experience taught them that each time they are on the streets to express their concerns, they are beaten and some end up in hospitals.
This is after a number of protesters were shot and injured by police using rubber bullets during the National Public Service and Allied Workers’ Union (NAPSAWU) strike on Wednesday. About 12 protesters were hospitalised after being assaulted by police.
Two workers’ unions, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) and NAPSAWU are staging protest actions all over the country.
The teachers, whose strike action has been going on for about two weeks now, are demanding a 4.5 per cent cost of living adjustment while civil servants are calling for the removal of Finance Circular No. 1 among other things.
NAPSAWU President Quinton Dlamini said they would prepare themselves for the war that government has allegedly declared.
He said the splattering of police officers, correctional services officers and soldiers on the streets during protest actions is a sign that government is spoiling for a fight. "We have been beaten up and injured in every instance and we have been suffocated with tear gas for no reason," he said.
He said when they take to the streets they normally carry placards and no weapons, but they are met by people who are armed with guns, batons, tear gas canisters and other weaponry.
Dlamini said they will not be deterred by the brutality of the police but will fight back instead.
He said they would not mention the types of weapons they were going to arm themselves with but added that defence tools were circumstantial in their case as they would have to use whatever they would deem fit for that particular situation.
He said they currently have several members who are admitted to hospitals and they were still trying to trace through one male civil servant, believed to be a nurse, who was beaten and taken away by the police.
He said the union has previously attended to its casualties but they were surprised when this one was taken by the police.
Vincent Dlamini, NAPSAWU Secretary General in a press statement said, "The workers were peaceful, unarmed and only singing and chanting their slogans when this Mngomezulu guy led the assault on them. At least 12 workers were seriously injured and had to be rushed to the Mbabane Government Hospital for treatment. Some of these workers suffered head injuries and others were shot and had to be operated on. Other workers were suffocated by tear gas.
We condemn this barbaric act in the strongest in terms. Why were peaceful workers disrupted so violently in a country that calls itself ‘Africa’s Promise’? What promise derives from brutality? Or is it the promise to be brutal? Clearly the government has waged war against innocent citizens. The police, especially the Hhohho regional commander, behave as if the workers demand 4.5 per cent from his personal coffers!
"NAPSAWU members demand their dues from their employer and Mngomezulu does not feature in the equation. Despite the violence, NAPSAWU members defied all odds and proved our detractors wrong. These workers showed that they are not the cowards they have been made out to be. They are resilient and are determined to fight for their rights to the bitter end. We salute these workers for not succumbing to Mngomezulu’s terror. The bad books of history will reserve a huge space for this man," he wrote.
David defeated Goliath - SNAT
MBABANE - SNAT Secretary General Muzi Mhlanga said they will also fight the police.
He said at the moment they have two casualties who have been admitted to hospital after they were injured last Friday. "We are incurring their medical bills and we hope they will recuperate and join us again," he said.
He said they have now resolved to fight back because they are allegedly being attacked without doing any wrong. "We are staging peaceful marches because we want our employer to address them but some people out there are out to stop us," he said.
Mhlanga said just like David defeated Goliath in the olden days, they would fight the officers with whatever weapons they had despite that the officers have guns.
The teachers spent the better part of yesterday locked in meetings in the 15 branches where they forged a way forward. They have been on strike for over two weeks now, following government’s failure to grant the 4.5 per cent cost of living adjustment.
About eight people were shot during Wednesday’s demonstration which started at the Coronation Park.
When an oppressed people show a willingness to defend themselves, the enemy, who is a moral weakling and coward, is more willing to grant concessions and work for a respectable compromise. Psychologically, moreover, (oppressors) consider themselves superior beings and are not willing to exchange their superior lives for our inferior ones. They are most vicious and violent when they can practice violence with impunity. - Robert F. Williams
Jul 14, 2012, 2:56 AM, Jahings (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Where iz this country going nakunje.if these strikes continue i will say Libya here we come
Jul 14, 2012, 2:56 AM, Nhlanhla sabelo (Nhlanhlas@yahoo.com)
Phela Swazi government is our mother and we public servants are her babies if I have pain I cry to her she is suppose to listen to my cries and comfort me,and not to set a pack of boer dogs to maul me because she is barren she won't have other children any more.That is how things are nowadays between Swazi government,teachers and pupils their future is doomed and it's like nobody cares.this is painful to every Swazi citizen.
Jul 14, 2012, 2:56 AM, lencane (email@example.com )
I understand the frustration, but that doesn't mean anyone can fight police officers, because at the end of the day many people will be injured unnecessary. Moreover injured people won't include any of the Union's Executive but the people who won't even be compensated. If we can understand the officers are always there to maintain peace and order I assume all will be well but then some people take unnecessary advantage thus a fight, or beating takes place, if police just beat anyone I think everyone will be beaten. It take sometime for officers to beat a civilian unless he/she is out of order. Amicable resolution without a fight can be taken not a fight back as it will create unnecessary tensions which can lead to a disaster and regrets.
Jul 14, 2012, 2:56 AM, Mtsandzi (Mtsandzi.Welive@gmail.com)
Where are the people who said, ' Swaziland will never end up like Libya, that Swazis are peaceful. Why disgrace ourselves, and live like our enemies? Is this the first time we have seen suffering? I think fighting is not the solution, no, don't fight, so that the bloodshed will stop.
Jul 14, 2012, 2:56 AM, Esther (firstname.lastname@example.org)