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MANZINI – Can kuhlehla (carrying out tribute labour obligation) to a national event cost an employee his/her job?

This is one of the possible questions which could cross one’s mind after learning that a textile worker is currently languishing in her rented flat  after she was turned back when she reported for work, following her attendance to national duties; the Reed Dance.  The textile worker is a member of Emavulandlela Swaziland Scout Association.

According to documents which are in the possession of this publication, on August 23, 2018, the Eswatini National Administration wrote a letter of request to Fashion International, requesting that it releases its employee for a royal assignment with effect from August 27, 2018. 

The letter stated that the employee in question should be released from August 27, 2018 until the completion of national duties. However, there was no specific date stating when the national duties would end.

Thereafter, the worker filled in a leave form and indicated that she would be on leave from August 28, 2018. Again, the date to return to work was not mentioned.

On September 19, 2018, the Eswatini National Administration sent a messenger to deliver a letter to Fashion International letter thanking the company for its cooperation. According to the letter, the Eswatini National Administration said having started national duties on August 24, 2018 to September 21, 2018, it was hereby extending its special gratitude for the cooperation the factory had rendered.


“We confirm that the above mentioned person has been engaged on royal duties and she is now released to resume her normal duties under your department on September 24, 2018,” reads part of the letter.

However, it was alleged that the messenger who was sent to deliver the letter was allegedly turned back and told to come with the employee in question. It was gathered that the worker was called and on the same day, she rushed to work, only to be allegedly told to come back with a letter fully explaining what she was doing all these days, as the last day of the Shiselweni Reed Dance was on September 16, 2018.
On Monday, September 24, the worker reported for work but she was served with another letter, which was signed by the factory’s Human Resources Manager, Buyisile Nxumalo, and it was addressed to the office of the Eswatini National Secretary.
According to the letter, the factory requested clarity of the actual duties performed by the worker, who had been away for a period longer than expected.
The factory said subsequent to the letter it received as a company, requesting her to attend national duties on August 27, 2018, she had been away and it did not have any formal communication regarding her whereabouts, even after both Reed Dance ceremonies were over. “This has come as a surprise to us as we have never experienced such in over 10 years of operation,” reads part of the letter.
It further asked the office of the Eswatini National Secretary to kindly provide the worker with a letter stating what national duties she had been doing this whole time.
Wonder Mkhonza, the Secretary General of the Amalgamated Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (ATUSWA) confirmed the matter. He said their member was currently at home in Matsapha after she was turned back twice from work.

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