Wed, 26 Jun 2019

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has criticised eSwatini police's heavy handedness in dealing with striking workers this week after they used batons and stun grenades to disperse protesting workers in Manzini.

Demonstrators and police clashed during a protest action to demand higher wages and reforms to the way the state pension fund was managed.

According to Reuters, several workers were wounded in the clashes, as police used batons, stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

The organisers of the demonstrations, however, vowed to continue with the protest until Thursday, as the protests were also taking place in other parts of the country, including the capital Mbabane, Siteki and Nhlangano.

There were no reports of violence or injuries in the other cities.

In a statement, SAFTU pledged its support for the workers' struggle and urged South African unions "to be ready to act in solidarity and respond to any appeal from their comrades in eSwatini (Swaziland) for solidarity at the borders".

SAFTU also criticised the eSwatini monarch, labelling the country's forthcoming election on Friday as a sham which was intended at giving King Mswati III "a thin veneer of respectability to his dictatorship while keeping the people oppressed".

"The second round of these rigged elections are scheduled for Friday, September 21, 2018. Mswati is trying to force the people to participate in these charades. That is why he set his police on unarmed peaceful workers who are exposing these bogus ballots for what they are - a bid to pretend that he is democratically accountable, while retaining his absolute power," said the trade union federation.

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