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MBABANE – UNESWA has obtained an order interdicting protesting lecturers and non-academic staff from engaging in violent conduct.
The order was issued yesterday after the University of Eswatini (UNESWA), rushed to court when the protesting employees blocked the entrance to the university.

Industrial Court Judge Abande Dlamini issued an interim order interdicting the protesting employees from engaging in any unruly, intimidating and violent conduct.  The strike is over award performances (notching). As a result of the strike, the university is currently closed. Respondents in the matter are the Association of Lecturers, Academic and Administrative Personnel (ALAAP) and National Workers Union in Swaziland Higher Institutions (NAWUSHI).

Others are the national commissioner of police, Matsapha Police Station commander and the attorney general. In this matter, UNESWA wants ALAAP and NAWUSHI and their members participating in the strike action to be interdicted from entering the university’s premises, save for the residences of those who are residents on the campus for the duration of the strike action. The university also wants ALAAP and NAWUSHI and their members, who are participating in the strike, to be ordered to maintain a distance of 50 metres from the entrance of the institution’s premises at Kwaluseni and elsewhere on any of its campuses.

Other orders sought by the university are that ALAAP and NAWUSHI be ordered not to picket on the university’s premises due to their alleged unlawful conduct and that the police commissioner and station commander of Matsapha Police Station should implement the above prayers. UNESWA is represented by Banele Gamedze of Musa M. Sibandze Attorneys in the matter.  ALAAP and NAWUSHI, which are represented by Kenneth Simelane, are opposed to the orders sought by UNESWA. The matter will be argued next Friday. In its founding affidavit, UNESWA Registrar Dr Salebona Simelane told the court that on Monday, NAWUSHI also embarked on a protected strike action on similar basis to the ALAAP.


He said the university respected the labour laws of the country and the rights of the protesting employees to embark on a lawful strike and to picket peacefully at or near their place of work. However, he stated that the protesting ALAAP and NAWUSHI members had allegedly failed to accord UNESWA the right to peacefully carry on its business and the rights of the employees, who did not wish to participate in the strike action. “The striking members of the first respondent (ALAAP), from the very first date of the strike, began to act in a disorderly fashion calculated to disrupt by physical force and intimidation the operations of the applicant (UNESWA).

“In particular, members of the first respondent, including the following, Mfunwa Dlamini, Vice Chairman of first Respondent, Dr Mduduzi Shongwe, Secretary General of the first respondent and Ray Vilane, an executive member of the first respondent, have daily blocked the main entrance to the university by sitting across the road at the gate and/or forming a human barrier across the entrance together with other striking members of the first respondent,” said the registrar.

He submitted that he personally observed these three, who he could identify and the rest of the group who had been there he could not name. Dr Salebona further stated that there had been acts of intimidation against other employees on campus. He alleged that Mduduzi Simelane, a member of the accounting staff, was approached by among others, Mfunwa, who challenged him for electing to continue to work during the strike. Mfunwa is alleged to have told Mduduzi that because he was a Simelane like the registrar, he thought he owned the university. Dr Salebona said Mduduzi felt intimidated by being singled out for merely exercising his right to choose.

He filed a confirmatory affidavit confirming the registrar’s submission. The registrar stated that on Monday, when NAWUSHI joined the strike action, they also allegedly engaged in the unruly conduct of the members of ALAAP. “In particular, they also began to block the entrance to the university, in concert with the members of the first respondent, in particular Sikelela Ngwenya and Lihle Fakudze, who are executive members of the NAWUSHI were identified by inter alia, Gcinaphi Mndzebele, the applicant’s legal advisor, blocking the entrance to the university and these actions continue to date,” Dr Salebona added.


Mndzebele also filed a confirmatory affidavit. The registrar continued to say: “The applicant notwithstanding the above, has continued to be available to engage the first and second respondents in negotiations to attempt to break the deadlock and met with both first and second respondents jointly on the March 17 and 20, 2023. To date, the engagements have been unsuccessful. “On the March 21, 2023, the first and second respondents escalated the behaviour to dangerous, destructive and even more unruly in that they entered the university’s main administration block, en-masse and while inside, they intimidated those working inside, ‘trashed’ the place by emptying filing cabinets and by littering the place with tree branches and shrubs they had uprooted from the applicant’s gardens surrounding the administration offices.”

Dr Salebona informed the court that pictures taken from video surveillance allegedly showed members of ALAAP and NAWUSHI ‘trashing the administration block’. He said members of the administration had until then been forced to use another entrance, which he could not disclose for fear of prompting a similar blockade of that entrance by the ALAAP and NAWUSHI members. The registrar stated that due to the unprecedented levels of destruction, disruption and intimidation allegedly by ALAAP and NAWUSHI members, and a credible threat of even worse to come, those employed at the administration block, both administrative staff and senior management, had been forced to vacate the premises until they had the protection of the court ‘and we are working from home’.

He also stated that as recently as Tuesday, the Pro-Vice Chancellor Henry Gadaga was unable to enter through the main gate and was turned back by ALAAP and NAWUSHI members, who were participating in the ‘unruly’ strike action. He mentioned Mfunwa in particular, who was allegedly sitting on a chair blocking the way into the university. Dr Salebona said while ALAAP and NAWUSHI members had a right to picket peacefully at or near the place of work in support of a lawful strike, this right must be exercised responsibly with due regard to the rights of the applicant and employees, who did not wish to participate in the strike action. The matter is pending in court.


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