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MANZINI - Chaos erupted as tempers flared during an ‘ungovernable’ NAPSAWU one-day congress, which was unceremoniously postponed indefinitely.

The National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) held its one-day congress at Divine Healing Ministries International Auditorium in Manzini yesterday and it was supposed to finish off the business of the 2019 congress. The 2019 congress was unceremoniously closed after a female delegate from Manzini branch, Denise Mnisi, collapsed and died.

In fact, in the about seven hours (9am to 4pm) which was spent by the congress delegates at the auditorium, meaningful business only took about 20 minutes and that was when the Secretary General Thulani Hlatshwako, delivered the secretariat report.
The misunderstanding, which was between the congress delegates and national executive committee (NEC), started during the very first item on the agenda, which was registration and credentials.

This was supposed to take place between 7am to 9am. It eventually started at around 8am to 9:20am. The registration went well, but when it was time for the union’s National Organising Secretary (NOS), Mduduzi Shabangu, there was an argument about how to check the presence of delegates.


The main issue was that some branches, like Hluthi, were far from Manzini and they could not arrive on time. The concern was that in their preparatory meeting, it was said that at 9am, the auditorium’s doors would be closed, so it was asked that delegate members from distant places should be allowed into the congress when they arrived.

Afterwards, some delegates wanted to know why the former NEC was not present to finish the congress business, because it was them who were supposed to deliver the reports. They said this was because the reports were addressing issues which took place during their term and they were the ones who would have answers during the discussion of the reports.

However, the union’s President, Oscar Nkambule, who was chairing the meeting, told them that the former NEC members’ absence would be addressed by the secretary general when he delivered the secretariat report.

Thereafter, the secretary general delivered the secretariat report and this took place between 10:15am and 10:40am. After the secretariat report, the congress took a 20-minute tea break. When they returned at 11am, the chairman of the congress said it was time to discuss the secretariat report. However, the issue of the former NEC was again raised by the congress delegates and this was because the secretary general did not talk about it when delivering the secretariat report, yet the president had promised the meeting that it would be addressed.

After a long argument, Madlangempisi Branch submitted that they felt that the chairman was emotional and seemed to be having interest on the matter. On that note, the branch said the chairman could not continue chairing the congress.

“We (Madlangempisi Branch) suggest that the president should step down as chairman of the congress and allow his deputy to take over,” they submitted.
Siteki Branch seconded the suggestion. However, Mbabane Branch pleaded with the congress delegates to focus on the business of the day.


Meanwhile, Nhlangano Branch moved a counter motion that they should continue by moving to the next agenda item, which was discussing the secretariat report, and Malkerns Branch seconded it.
This resulted in the formation of two factions and a heated argument ensued. The president intervened by urging the two factions to at least have a mentality of building the union.

“I am also chairing this congress because of the powers vested in me by the union’s constitution,” the president added. However, the Siteki Branch proposed that since there was a motion and a counter motion, they should vote. At that time, delegates from Siteki, Madlangempisi, Manzini and Mankayane Branches, started singing political songs, while banging the tables. On the other hand, delegates from Malkerns, Nhlangano and Mbabane Branches argued that they could not vote against the Constitution.


Again, the chairman pleaded with the factions to calm down so that he could start taking concerns regarding the secretariat report.
Thereafter, the uncontrollable delegates from Siteki, Madlangempisi, Mankayane and Manzini Branches, stood up and sang political songs while clapping hands and banging tables.

The NEC had a brief caucus and later on, the president acknowledged the concern by some of the branches that he was not giving them enough chance to speak. On that note, he politely apologised and promised that as they went forward, he would try to be fair as possible. He then told them that as their leaders, they had agreed that the congress should discuss the secretariat report.

However, the aggrieved branches said the president’s apology had been overtaken by events as they had moved a motion that he should step down as the chairman of the meeting.

They also argued that the Constitution, which gives the president the powers to chair the congress, also stipulates that if he was unable to do so, he should step down and allow his deputy to take over. “Again, if the deputy president fails, the constitution says we can select a member to chair the congress,” they added. The Manzini Branch also persuaded the president to step down for the sake of his dignity and progress of the congress.

“Just humble yourself and allow your deputy to chair the congress,” the Manzini Branch added. On the other hand, Mbabane Branch delegates said they would not allow the president to step down from being the chairman of the congress because he was exercising a constitutionally given right.

They said they would only allow such to happen once there was tangible evidence that he was unable to proceed or was conflicted on the issues at hand. Once again, the president came in and said he believed the delegates who said the congress could not vote against the constitution were right. 

“Mr president, just humble yourself and step down. By doing so, you will not be belittled because you will continue to be our president,” the delegates from Siteki Branch added.

The argument, which saw the congress delegates exchanging heated words and sometimes insults, lasted until 1:08pm when the president asked that the NEC be given time to caucus. He said while they caucused, the delegates could take a lunch break.

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