The Swaziland Minister of Labour and Social Security, Winile Magagula, has instructed all workers and employers federations to cease operation in Swaziland with immediate effect. All federations have been deemed non-existent in terms of the Industrial Relations Act of 2000 and are stopped until the amendment of the Act has been passed by Parliament.

There was an oversight in the Act which failed to cater for the registration of labour and employer federations. This will be corrected by the amendment.

As a Swazi Vigil UK member I feel that is appalling, what happened to human rights and freedom of speech? Who will protect the workers in the interim while the Act is being amended? I do not see the point of this draconian ruling, Swazi citizens are not allowed to even protest, if they do, they are in danger of being killed or put into prison.

Swazi human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko and the editor of monthly publication, The Nation magazine, Bheki Makhubu, were found guilty of contempt of court by Swaziland High Court Judge Mpendulo Simelane on 17 July. Their crime was publishing articles in the February and March editions of the magazine.

They were sentenced to a two-year prison term on 25 July without the option of a fine. The sentence was backdated to 17 and 18 March 2014, the dates that they were taken into custody. The court also fined The Nation and Independent Publishers E50 000 each, payable within one month from the date of the sentencing.

The articles published were critical of Swaziland’s governance and judicial system as they criticised the arrest of the country’s chief vehicle inspector for executing his duties. Criticism was directed mainly at the country’s Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi for issuing a warrant of arrest for the inspector on the basis that he had given a ticket to the driver of a government vehicle who was transporting a judge without the required authorization. 

Swazi Vigil UK, which was  founded  by Thobile Gwebu ,  is now well recognised in the United Kingdom and its members  are committed to working towards Swaziland becoming a country that recognises human rights. Its members are all Swazi citizens based in the United Kingdom. They routinely congregate in front of the Swazi Embassy every Saturday without fail to protest against anything concerning human rights in Swaziland with the hope that our voices will be heard by the United Kingdom government and action will be implemented. 

Swazi Vigil UK has been a success thus far as more Swazi citizens in the United Kingdom are becoming members and are no longer hiding in fear of the unknown. In Swaziland, if you are part of any organisation which is in opposition of the king’s ruling and you hold protests against his ruling, you are either killed or arrested and your family members are in danger of being killed. Being out of the country, we as Swazi Vigil UK are committed to continuing to spread the word and to stand for what we believe in. We have the advantage of being out of the country and can therefore protest freely. 

Ms Gwebu and the members of Swazi Vigil UK have written a letter to the Queen expressing our concerns of human rights violation in Swaziland, which she responded positively to. We also signed a joint petition with the residents and citizens of the United Kingdom, as of 21 October, 70 000 people had signed the petition. Swazi Vigil UK is expecting the number of signatories to rise as more people become aware of what is happening in the Kingdom of Swaziland.

The petition was presented to the United Kingdom Prime Minister, David Cameron at 10 Downing Street, which he received. 

As I was reading the newspaper, I came across an article written by Mbongeni Ndlela of the Times of Swaziland in which he talks about the Swazi Government spending an amount of E458 000 (
£25 684.54) to buy curtains for theSwaziland College Of Technology in Mbabane, Swaziland. I feel that there are much better things the Government could have done with that amount of money to help the Swazi nation at large.

Looking at the cancer pandemic in Swaziland, as October is cancer awareness month, it was going to be a good gesture if the money was donated to building a chemotherapy ward in one of our Government hospitals. Currently, Swazi citizens need to go to neighboring country, South Africa for chemotherapy. It is only those who can afford to go, the underprivileged are left for dead.

I believe that if money is spent towards better healthcare facilities or equipment, the cancer survival rate in Swaziland will increase because cancer is curable with the correct treatment. I also believe that if chemotherapy would be available in the country, it would be more affordable than leaving the country to seek treatment in South Africa. So many people are dying because of the lack of funds to go outside the country and get treatment for cancer. The Swaziland government needs to make the public, especially the underprivileged, its first priority.

A lady of 21 years in my country, Hlengiwe Kunene from the Swaziland Breast Cancer  Network,At the time of finding out about her breast cancer she has just been admited to Limkokwing University in persue to study Torisim .Due to the size of the tumour and aggressiveness of the cancer ,she needs chemotherapy as soon as possible.To ensure that she get a successful treatment she need to go for treatment in South Africa .  She needs help from the nation at large to raise funds for chemotherapy treatment, but instead of the government looking at important issues like this one, they would rather buy curtains for E458 000!

Most Swazi nationals are underpaid. The results of this is that they cannot afford proper healthcare, which results in them dying from illnesses that could have been treated have they had the funds. Will it not then be a good idea for Swaziland to buy the right equipment used for chemotherapy for the nation rather than buying things which will not benefit the nation?

Situations like this one make me as a young Swazi citizen feel that our superiors only care for themselves since they are living a lavish life and can afford to go across our borders for treatment for themselves and loved ones. It feels as though it is none of their concern that there are those who do not have the means to travel to South Africa for treatment.

 

By Nokwazi Nxumalo