The newly formed Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) has demanded the registration and participation of political parties in next year’s parliamentary election, despite strong government opposition. “Now is the time for the country to allow political parties in terms of the elections,” said TUCOSWA president Barnes Dlamini. “There should be democratic processes in terms of electing parliamentarians and allowing political parties, first, to register and, secondly, to be given enough time to garner support from the various citizens of the country, in terms of their political ideology.” Swaziland’s constitution bars the formation and participation of all political parties in the tiny, southern African kingdom.
The Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and the Swaziland Federation of Labor (SFL) merged with the independent Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) to form what is now known as TUCOSWA.
Dlamini said his organization will soon begin a nationwide education campaign, where he said workers will enlighten Swazis in their local communities about their rights in a new democratic dispensation.
Some analysts say TUCOSWA’s demands and plans will be on a collision course with the administration, which they said frowns on partisan political activities. But, Dlamini said workers are unlikely to be intimidated by threats from the government. “We have always been taking backlash in terms of responses from the government from time immemorial,’ said Dlamini. “In the absence of political parties, as a trade union, we will continue to bring up issues of social economic in nature. Workers are suffering under the political order in Swaziland and we are saying to government [should] sit down and address this question because time has come for it.”