SNAT President speaks out against union bashing and casualisation of teaching profession, calls for unity among democracy forces

Communist Party of Swaziland

Saturday 24 December 2022: – President of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Mbongwa Dlamini, has gone for three full months unpaid, as the Mswati autocracy intensifies its attack on unions.

The President revealed this as he delivered SNAT’s message of solidarity at the Summer School hosted by the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS). The CPS Summer School is held from 20-30 December 2022 in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa.

“Comrades, I have been unpaid for three months now – October, November and December – for doing union work,” he disclosed.

“The government is carrying out this inhumane measure to victimise me for standing up for the rights of workers, and to also instil fear in other teachers, hoping that they will be deterred from standing up for their rights,” continued the president.

The president also revealed that some teachers have faced worse as they have gone unpaid for at least five months, punished for conducting union work. As things stand, as long as the tinkhundla system subsists, there are no reasonable prospects of justice for these teachers and others whom the autocracy victimises.

The president called upon progressive forces to come together and defend the working class.

He called out, “Comrades, we must unite and together fight against victimisation of union members. Our membership has been greatly affected, and all this is traceable to union bashing by the Swazi government. When a member is active in the union, the government victimises them by refusing to renew their contracts, suspending them, among other draconian measures.”

The SNAT President is, however, not deterred by the unending attacks on him.

“But the government’s backward measures will not deter us from fighting for justice for the working class,” he said. 

“As SNAT, we do not hide the fact that we demand a democratic government in Swaziland, one which will recognise and respect the rights of workers, and we unapologetically proclaim that we demand an accountable government,” he reaffirmed delegates to the CPS Summer School.

The Mswati autocracy has over the years moved towards casualisation of labour. Teachers have been among the worst victims of this measure, particularly the policy of hiring teachers on two-year fixed-term contracts. At the end of the two-year period, the government tends to refuse to renew these contracts for some of them, particularly those who are active in union work.

The SNAT President revealed that the contract policy also means that workers hired on contract cannot contribute towards the pension fund – Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF).

“Consequently,” said the president, “we have teachers who have worked for over 15 years, but when their contracts are not renewed, they go home empty-handed, to endure lifelong extreme destitution.”

President Mbongwa also revealed that the contract policy affects women the worst.

“For instance,” he said, “teachers hired on contract are not entitled to maternity leave. If a female teacher is hired during her pregnancy, she is expected to report for duty the entire duration of her pregnancy.”

“Fighting against union bashing and casualisation of the teaching profession will need militant action from all of us, hence the need for all forces of democracy to unite and fight for a common cause,” the SNAT President stressed.

The President also called for unity among all teachers, as well as unity between teachers and workers from other sectors. He called for teachers on permanent employment to understand that they are also exploited just as those on fixed contracts, though the exploitation takes a different character.

The President was, however, not surprised by the Mswati autocracy’s casual approach to education, as Mswati and his family do not value education.

He said, “A country that does not value education is headed for disaster. Leaders who do not value education will never educate the nation. They give value to other things which do not add value to the developmental aspirations of the people. That is why today the situation of primary education remainsin tatters.  Swaziland’s leadership simply does not value education.”

The CPS Summer School continues on Sunday 25 December 2022.


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