The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) continues to stand firm on the side of workers as they continue to prepare towards a public sector workers’ strike action beginning next week, Monday 23 September 2019. The workers demand a 7.85 per cent cost of living adjustment. The Mswati autocracy has intensifed its intimidatory tactics by threatening to expel Comrade Mcolisi Ngcamphalala, the CPS Deputy National Chairperson, from his teaching profession under false claims that he absented himself without informing his supervisors.
As a revolutionary and a teacher, Comrade Mcolisi Ngcamphalala is also a member of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (Tucoswa). He serves in the teachers’ union as its Regional Chairperson in the Lubombo Region, east of Swaziland. This latest attack on Comrade Mcolisi is in essence the continued deepening of the suppression of workers’ unions by the regime and an attack against the workers’ federation Tucoswa and the CPS.
Following a deployment by Tucoswa on a labour networking summit, Comrade Mcolisi formally, in writing, followed all outlined procedures in order to be released from work to attend union activities: he communicated to both the school headteacher and deputy headteacher. Attending union activities should be respected as a right accruing to unions.
Upon his return, he was made to sign absent-from-duty forms, notwithstanding the fact that he had communicated accordingly. The headteacher even refused to receive a detailed written report of his whereabouts soon after his return. The intention is thus to present a narrative that he simply went AWOL for four days, which is a case for dismissal according to government regulations.
This latest attack on Comrade Mcolisi by the Mswati regime is not the first. On 11 January 2019 he, together with Comrade Njabulo “Njefire” Dlamini (the late International Organiser of the CPS and leader in SNAT) was picked up from a large group of workers and arrested in Manzini by the police while on their way to a workers’ meeting. They were charged with jaywalking and assault of a police officer thereafter. The intention was to sabotage the meeting. Comrade Mcolisi is currently out on bail as the case continues in the Manzini Magistrates’ Court.
Before the January 2019 arrest, in February 2016 he was arrested during a workers’ protest action demanding a salary review. He was charged under the Public Order Act, together with the current president of SNAT, Comrade Mbongwa Dlamini. The state was keen on forcing a journalist to testify against them. This case as well remains pending in court.
In 2017, Comrade Mcolisi had his house broken into. A laptop was stolen, but the police have never bothered to investigate. There is well grounded suspicion that it was the police who orchestrated the break-in in search of information which they would use to charge him under Swaziland’s draconian laws.
The police frequently visit his place of work either to harass him or to monitor his moves. Often, the police hold secret meetings with the head teacher when they are at the school. The headteacher, on the other hand, keeps a special register to record his movements. When the headteacher arrived at Comrade Mcolisi’s school, she openly declared in an open staff meeting that she was deployed by the Teacher Service Commission to deal with certain individuals in the school. It is now clear who those individuals were. Comrade Mcolisi has experienced many instances where his participation in the activities of his union has been frustrated by the headteacher.
These acts by the regime are nothing but machinations to suppress workers, and by doing so also suppress the calls for the increase of salaries and improvement of working conditions. The Mswati autocracy hopes that by doing so, the voices of democracy will be subdued.
Comrade Mcolisi is not the first, and certainly will not be the last, to face such harassment by the Mswati autocracy and its agents. SNAT President, Comrade Mbongwa Dlamini, was charged by Mswati’s government with misconduct for what the regime claimed was “unauthorised absenteeism” from his school on 31 January 2019 when he was exercising his right to attend union activities on that date. He had followed the requisite processes and been duly given permission by the headteacher of Mhubhe High School.
Mswati’s handpicked prime minister has already made public claims that the upcoming strike action by public sector associations is the furtherance of political ends outside the scope of workers. He issued threats against the leadership of public sector unions following the resolution by workers to strike. These stunts are obviously meant to quell the resolve of workers to strike on Monday.
The Mswati regime has publicly and privately declared that it does not want any CPS activists in the unions, including any action which the regime suspects is influenced by the CPS. They have instructed their trusted people in unions and at some instances deployed undercover police to deal with CPS members.
The CPS, and indeed the thousands of workers, remains concerned, following the death of Comrade Njabulo on 23 May 2019 under mysterious circumstances, that Comrade Mcolisi is being subjected to similar treatment by the regime. The CPS is not taking this attack on Comrade Mcolisi lightly. It is deliberately directed against a Communist, the intention being to isolate him from the rest of the workers. The CPS also warns those who are being used by the regime against our comrades to desist from such counterrevolutionary practices for they may have a long-term bearing in the future. CPS members’ participation in unions, including their political duties, are part and parcel of the noble cause to end the sufferings of the people under the tinkhundla regime. They are sacrificing their lives every day to that end. Additionally, the CPS is part and parcel of the working class movement and will not separate itself from workers.
The CPS calls upon workers to strengthen their unity, close ranks against the Mswati regime and its puppets. The Party unapologetically supports the upcoming strike action by public sector workers, which begins on Monday 23 September 2019. The support will continue to be practical as in the past. In the face of continuous harassment by the regime, Communists will not cower and abandon workers!
Down with the tinkhundla regime!
Workers of Swaziland, unite!