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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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