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MANZINI – All the towns that the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) was to demonstrate in today have denied them permission to do so.

TUCOSWA had planned to demonstrate in Manzini, Mbabane, Nhlangano, Pigg’s Peak and Siteki. From these five towns, Nhlangano had granted the union permission to demonstrate; however, it later withdrew it following that it was advised to do so by the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS).
The union sought to demonstrate in these towns with the hope of sensitising the citizenry about their demands, which revolve around the increment of grants awarded to the elderly, which had to be at par with the cost of living.


The demands also include that the free primary education (FPE) and orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) grants be revived. TUCOSWA is also calling for the introduction of a minimum wage, which would allow all workers to afford living. The union had sought permission to demonstrate at the Nhlangano Park and the Nhlangano Town Council had in a letter dated September 21, 2022, conceded to the request. The letter titled ‘RE: Notice of a gathering in terms of Section 6 of the Public Order Act, 2017 for a Section 40 IRA, protest action’, from the town’s Chief Executive Officer Babsy Mavuso, had communicated that during discussions between the parties, the general consensus was that the prevailing social and security landscape was not conducive for the planned activity.

Mavuso had initially said there was need to increase the level of preparedness and security from both ends. He said in light of the concerns raised, especially by the law enforcement agencies, it was recommended that TUCOSWA convene at the Nhlangano Park with its affiliates, reduce the number of hours for the activity to accommodate other people who might want to do their errands in town. “You will be allocated King George Street to get to the regional administrator’s office. Please bear in mind that you remain accountable for any wayward behaviour by your affiliates. I hope you will find this in order and look forward to your co-operation,” Mavuso said. However, yesterday, he sent to the Secretary General (SG) of TUCOSWA Mduduzi Gina another letter with the same title, which was revoking the previous agreement.“In light of the above, Nhlangano Town Council does not accede to your application dated September 16, 2022 and thus revoke the letter issued to you dated September 21, 2022.  We state that, the prohibition of the event is proportionate to the harm to national security, public order, public health or the rights and freedoms of others that is sought to be avoided as discussed in our meeting with yourselves,” Mavuso said.


In this letter, which its wording is similar to all the other four towns, referred to the subsequent engagement held on September 21, 2022, between the ‘municipal council’, the national commissioner’s representatives and TUCOSWA, regarding the proposed march and/or gathering as per the application. He said the National Commissioner (NATCOM) of Police, William Dlamini, had the mandate to prohibit the gathering or march if he had reasons to believe that the march will endanger the maintenance of public order and public safety. Mavuso said during the aforesaid meeting, the national commissioner’s representatives, raised security concerns that the country was experiencing issues of national security. He said the general consensus was that the prevailing social and security landscape was not conducive for the planned activity and that there was need to increase the level of preparedness and security.

He said the national commissioner was of the view that he could not guarantee the safety of the citizens and property if the march or gathering of any nature would be allowed to proceed.Another letter, dated September 22, 2022, reads: “In reference to your letter directed to TUCOSWA dated September 21, 2022 after a preparatory meeting, we kindly advise you that the meeting CANNOT TAKE PLACE on Friday 23rd September, 2022 at Nhlangano Park as directed. This is due to sensitive intelligence and information on State security that has been forwarded to us, just after the meeting. We kindly apologise for any inconvenience caused.” Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati said she was not aware of such correspondence.


The Municipal Council of Manzini, on the other hand, despite denying TUCOSWA permission to march, said: “As a measure to counter the prohibition herein, it is advised that TUCOSWA uses other acceptable means of engaging the other parties for its grievances. This could include sending a delegation of four TUCOSWA Executive Committee members to deliver employee grievances to the relevant stakeholders.” On the other hand, the SG of TUCOSWA, Gina, confirmed that all municipalities had denied them permission to gather and demonstrate in their towns.
He said what was surprising to them was that they had followed all the regulations listed in the laws of the country.

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