Swaziland unions to protest over pay cuts

MBABANE, Swaziland — Swaziland public servants are set to demonstrate on Friday against pay cuts in a show of growing discontent with King Mswati III’s rule, union leaders said.

“We are calling on all civil servants to join the march on Friday to show their anger at the way in which public funds have been managed,” Vincent Dlamini, secretary general of the Civil Servants Union, said Wednesday.

Hundreds of teachers, nurses, civil servants and students are expected to join the protest, amid fears that government was running out of money to pay salaries.

Dlamini said the union was opposed to retrenchments of government workers and salary cuts, adding that the protest was also meant to address other issues of national concern.

“All workers in the country are expected to stay away from work and all students will not attend classes as the country will ground to a halt,” the Johannesburg-based Swaziland Solidarity Network, said in a statement.

Protests in the small kingdom often end up in arrests. The last big workers’ strike in 2008 was dispersed by the police.

“Civil society demands a change of government,” said Sikelele Dlamini, secretary general of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC).

He said police on Tuesday had disrupted a planning meeting for the march, describing the feeling on the streets as “tense”.

“I predict it is going to be nasty, but we are ready too,” he said.


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