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‘TUCOSWA disguised meeting’ crushed

It seems the war between police and the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland is far from over as the police barred the federation’s National Executive Committee (NEC) from meeting yesterday.
The meeting was scheduled to begin at 10am at the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Centre in Manzini.
Plain-clothed police arrived at the SNAT Centre just after 9am and told those present to vacate the premises as the meeting would not go on.  The uncompromising police officers also took over the gates at the Centre where they made it clear that no one would be allowed to enter the premises.
The police are said to have notified the NEC led by President Quinton Dlamini that they have been given an order to stop all the federation’s meetings from taking place as they are not registered.
TUCOSWA General Secretary Vincent Ncongwane said they were very disappointed by the conduct of the police.
He said the police argued that the meeting was a disguised continuation of the mass meeting they crushed last week following the inclusion of multi-party democracy on that agenda.
“This is really getting out of hand. The police came in as if they were coming to fight an army yet it was just an NEC meeting. They are behaving like thieves judging at the way they made way into the SNAT Centre.
What is saddening is that we will not know if it is really the police or thieves charging at us in future,” he said. 

Mhlanga alleges cops assaulted him

Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Secretary General Muzi Mhlanga has accused the police of assaulting him.
This was during the scuffle between the police and the National Executive Committee of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) at the SNAT Centre yesterday.
It is said that Mhlanga’s ‘crime’ was taking pictures of what was happening during their confrontation with the police. Yhi aze angishaya emaphoyisa loosely translated as “the police have assaulted me,” Mhlanga said briefly during his exit from the SNAT Centre. TUCOSWA Secretary General Vincent Ncongwane also confirmed the matter.  “It is true that Mhlanga was assaulted by the police for taking pictures of what was happening at the Centre. We are surprised as to why they resorted to beating him up instead of charging him seeing that they felt he was on the wrong,” he said. Ncongwane said it was clear that the police  were out to prove a point as they also threatened other members of the NEC when they forced them out of the Centre.
“Mhlanga was assaulted and has gone to see a doctor. That is how unruly these police were. They actually manhandled us, stopping anyone coming in or going out of the venue. As a few of us who were delegated to contact our co-operating partners, we were squashed between various policemen who were trying to read the emails we were sending to such partners and generally made it difficult to send the communication.  
“They harassed the National leadership and demanded their phones saying they would confiscate their phones as the leadership was taking photos of them without their permission, something they do whenever we have an activity,” he said. Deputy Police and Information Officer Inspector Phindile Vilakati said people that have been assaulted by police were welcome to lay charges at the police station.
 “Our hands are open and we will treat the case just like any other.  So far there have been no reported cases,” she said.  She said police patrols were intense on weekends hence the reason they dispersed even plain-clothed officers.  “The towns are usually busy on weekends and we take interest in gathering especially where there are crowds. This is not to intimidate anyone but to make sure there is order,” she said.

Federation writes letter of complaint to Winnie

Following yesterday’s events, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) has since written a letter to the Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula seeking redress in the manner in which they were treated by police.
The letter, dated 14 March 2015, was intended to make the minister aware of the continuing harassment from police.
“We have brought the past harassment of the police to your office with no positive reaction before and we are sure that is what has emboldened the police now. no wonder the feeling that it is not possible to have a peaceful meeting in the country is gaining ground as we consider meeting in South Africa.
aware
We make the minister aware of the continuing harassment as we take this matter to other forums for we have been fair to the minister,” reads part of the letter.
The federation said it was  clear that the proposed Code of Good Practice to manage industrial action and strike action was now in tatters following such conduct and that they are not surprised that Government has taken a good length of time pretending they were still working on the draft.
“We now appreciate the delays in concluding the benchmarks to try and regain AGOA; Government had long forgone that trade agreement.
If such was not the case, she would have ensured that her police do not act in such a negligent fashion,” said the letter
The federation said they would wait with bated breaths as to what the minister would say to such blatant violation of workers’ rights by a force that is meant to enforce the law but instead violates such laws.
“Indeed we hold, if we had done anything to justify such harassment, we should have been charged not manhandled. We are aware that they cannot go that route because of the dangers of being exposed in a court of law of the illegality of their actions,” states the letter.
Efforts to get a comment from the minister proved futile as her phone rang unanswered when contacted numerous times yesterday.

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