The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) salutes workers of Swaziland and the world in the May Day rallies organised all over the world in honour of the struggles and victories waged in the workplace and to some greater degree in the streets in defence for workers’ rights and improved welfare of the working people and their dependants.
Workers and the working-class people in Swaziland are yet to achieve full rights for trade union existence and free trade union activity. The right to organise and belong to unions is still thwarted by the dictatorship illegally in power. Under the Mswati autocracy and its tinkhundla government, trade unions are not allowed to operate freely. Trade union rights are an integral part of the freedoms and rights which our people have been denied since the 1973 decree which banned political parties and organisations.
Workers and working-class struggles over the years have shaped the balance of power in the country and helped in the development of the pro-democracy movement. The political situation in the country has drastically changed within the last 3 years. Workers have been in the forefront championing struggles in the workplace and in the country as a whole. The regime responded with increased repression. Workers are shot at, imprisoned, detained, brutalised and arrested during strikes.
The formation of Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) 10 years ago was yet another effort by workers to better organise to face the challenges our country is facing. Poverty is grinding to the majority of our people who are unemployed and cut off from economic activity as a result of the poor organisation of our society under the dictatorship. TUCOSWA needs to be supported to gain its ground as the federation of workers of Swaziland who struggle for transformation of our country in all aspects of life. The workers of our country must unite and support each other in the struggles waged in the different industries and sections of economic activity where exploitation is practiced.
The regime has always suffocated the operations of TUCOSWA from the beginning and has not stopped but instead reinforced with more sophisticated tactics.
The autocracy is comfortable with unions’ existence only when the unions are under its control. It is not for the free and independent operations of trade union activity in the country under their rule. Brutality against workers during strikes is rife. Unions’ operations are tempered with on a daily basis.
Undercover police have infiltrated unions. Spies are planted to weaken unions. Unions’ finances are depleted to deny workers their independence and workers’ control of unions is undermined. Trade union leaders are harassed and intimidated and workers’ representatives at shopfloor are harassed and frustrated by the bosses with the help of the political police.
Today the unions of our country suffer from a gap that exists between leaders of unions and the members of the union. Members of the unions are not able to grow the union by recruiting new members because the members themselves do not enjoy the democratic service from the unions they are part of. We must overcome these challenges with speed. The leaders of unions and the members must be as solid as a rock defining trade union strength and the power of democracy in organisation and building working class force. A strength necessary for the unions to fight the class battles in the workplace, communities and including in the state.
The CPS will continue to commit to help unions to organise better and build organisational and ideological capacity. Workers’ consciousness must go beyond understanding the shopfloor conflicts as they appear, but they must understand the system that organises production, the decisions on what is produced and how the proceeds are distributed.
The bitter struggles waged by the students in the institutions of higher learning are directly connected to the struggles of workers, women, rural and urban poor. These struggles bind all of us together to fight for democracy and the only solution to the tinkhundla dictatorship.
The struggle for democracy begins with the full mobilisation and unity of the oppressed people to fight for the overthrow of the dictatorship and its replacement with an interim government which will facilitate a smooth transition to a popular democratic dispensation. Only in a people’s democratic republic framework that popular democracy capable of resolving the present underdevelopment and impoverishment can be established.
The CPS will continue to work side-by-side with the workers in all the struggles waged daily by the workers of our country. We will support TUCOSWA and all the genuine unions in the country to gain democratic life in the daily work of unions. Trade unions are a school for democracy, and this must be alive in the running of daily affairs of the unions. CPS will continue to defend workers and workers’ unions against any offensive aimed at weakening unions and workers struggles.
Organising the unorganised is part of the CPS mission to build and grow unions’ strength. Unions’ strength begins with the number of workers who join and serve the union. Unions must understand the interconnection of struggles of the workers and that of the community. The struggle for democracy is a struggle for all of us and we must all commit to it.
All efforts must now be on how best we can combine our effort as the oppressed people to put an end to the dictatorship of Mswati and his tinkhundla government. The most practical route to achieve this is to force the dictatorship to give up power.