BOFEPUSU to join Mswati III protests
Swaziland’s King Mswati III
Botswana Federation of Public Sector Union (BOFEPUSU) has admitted that it will be part of the planned protests against Swaziland’s King Mswati III’s impending chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Mswati is expected to take over the SADC chairmanship reins from President Ian Khama whose term expires at the next summit scheduled for Mbabane, Swaziland later this month at a date yet to be confirmed.
And as Mswati prepares to take over the SADC chairmanship of the 16-nation regional bloc, BOFEPUSU alongside other workers’ federations within the region as well as beyond have vowed to be in solidarity with their working counterparts in Swaziland.
Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWSA), Swaziland’s largest workers’ federation has already called on for sanctions against Mswati ahead of the SADC summit. TUCOSWSA is accusing Mswati of wasteful spending by his government.
TUCOSWSA has joined hands with the banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) in making their disapproval of Mswati taking over the SADC chairperson by staging protests just before, during and soon after the summit.
“Most of labor movements and governments within the SADC are aware of what is happening in Swaziland,” Mario Masuku, the president of the banned PUDEMO, said in a statement when responding to a questionnaire send to him early this week.
However, Masuku could not be drawn into discussing what kind of protests are they going to be staging. Masuku said divulging their grand plan might prove suicidal arguing “Mswati is a dangerous man who is capable of doing anything stupid even killing.”
BOFEPUSU has admitted that it is going to be part of the protests. Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, the BOFEPUSU Secretary General told this publication in a telephone interview that time for dictators is over.
“He (Mswati) is a dictator,” said Motshegwa in justifying their decision to stand in solidarity with their Swazi counterparts when embarking on anti-Mswati protests before, during and after the forthcoming SADC summit in Mbabane.
According Motshegwa, workers in Swaziland are subjected to first class exploitation while labor activists are not allowed advocate for their members. Motshegwa said Mswati has gone to an extent of banning unionization of workers because of “his dictatorship tendencies.”
He said BOFEPUSU is busy lobbying other labor federations to join the protests. He said Zimbabwean workers, who are under siege themselves, have promised to be part of the protests to be staged in the monarch kingdom of Swaziland.
Nicholas Mabhena of South African based Zimbabwe Communist Movement said: “An injury to one worker is an injury to all. We are in total solidarity with our counterparts in Swaziland hence our decision to be part of the protests later this month.”
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Malawi appeals for help over Cyclone Freddy at PAP
As of yesterday evening, the death toll from the Cyclone in Malawi had risen from the initially reported 190 to 225 in a short period of time, over 20 000 people have been displaced, and the worst of fears are yet to come as the fatalities continue to mount. This was reported by a Malawi Member of Parliament attending the Pan African Parliament session in Midrand, South Africa, Hon Steven Mikiya.
Mikiya was giving a statement on behalf of Malawi as the ongoing Pan African Parliament in South Africa.
Mikiya said the Cyclone has wreaked the most havoc in our country’s Southern Region. “The Southern Region, has been hardest hit with widespread heavy rains and strong winds. This caused a rapid rise in water levels and subsequent flooding. Meanwhile, power supply has been disrupted, roads blocked off and rendered impassable and mudslides have also been widely reported,” he said.
He made a special appeal to the PAP: “Where I come from, there is a parable which I would like to share with you which says, “mzako weniweni umamudziwa panthawi ya mavuto.” Simply put, a friend in need is a friend indeed or put loosely, a person who helps at a difficult time is a friend you can rely on.”
Mikiya continued: “Yes! Misfortune has knocked on our door and left in its wake a trail of death and destruction that may take years to fully recover from. However, amidst these difficulties, I have every reason to believe that sometimes when you are in a dark place and think you have been buried, you have actually been planted. My belief, Mr. President, arises out of my faith in this gathering and out of the conviction that it is not coincidental that Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi and Mozambique while the delegations of both countries are here.”
According to Mikiya, the level of destruction, the loss of life, property and the decimation of the entire fabric of established communities has been unprecedented. He noted that all this, is coming at a time when Malawi was starting to show signs of recovery from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that also came hard on the heels of Cyclone Ana and Cyclone Gombe that left a similar trail of devastation and destruction in Malawi and neighbouring countries.
As of Sunday, this week, from the 12th of March, Malawi and Mozambique have been facing the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy that made a landfall over Mozambique on Saturday the 11th and reached Malawi by Sunday the 12th of March.
The Malawi legislator said he has absolute faith in the Pan African Parliament, which he described as “a league of nations brought together by a shared ancestry, history, identity as well as our beloved continent which we inhabit”.
Meanwhile, Malawi President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a State of Disaster in the affected areas effectively appealing for local and international support for the affected families.
Mikiya appealed to the Pan African Parliament drawing “positive” inspiration from Europe which rallied around Turkey after the destructive earthquakes to bring the much-needed relief and humanitarian aid to the people of Turkey.
He said Africa should demonstrate to the world that the African Union and its Organs are not mere talk shows, but effective institutions which stand up when it matters most.
“Alone, it may take us a lifetime to fully recover, but together, in the Pan-Africanist spirit of Ubuntu, our lives and livelihoods will return to a semblance of normality in record time. This is the time to live by our operative mantra, “One Africa, One Voice.” Mikiya concluded.