- Alpheous Nxumalo told the nation to “remain calm and go about your respective endeavours peacefully
- SWAYOCO’s Secretary General, Mciniseli Vilakati said “we call upon young people to render this country ungovernable.”
Mbabane-It going to be business as usual according to Eswatini’s Prime Minister Cleopas Dlamini following the declaration by the progressive forces of the Multi Stakeholder Forum (MSF) and the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) that they will embark on civic action in commemoration of June 29 2021 unrest.
The commemoration follows the largest pro-democracy protests in years that saw security forces engage mostly young demonstrators defying an overnight curfew in running street forces.
Speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister, the government spokesperson, Alpheous Nxumalo told the nation to “remain calm and go about your respective endeavours peacefully as the kingdom’s security personnel will ensure their safety and protection. It is going to be a normal working day and not a holiday as announced by some other entities.”
The representatives of the progressive forces say the civic action will honour those who were massacred following the violent confrontation with the country’s security forces. As a result of the anticipated confrontation that will occur between the opposing forces the situation the tension in the main cities of Manzini and Mbabane is high.
Some transport operators who normally convey the public to work on a daily basis have decided not to risk their vehicles on the road and hence transport is scarce. This is mainly true with the large buses although mini busses are in operation albeit in small numbers.
Some of the transport operators who also belong to unions that are affiliated to TUCOSWA will also be participating in the civic action. The Secretary General of the Swaziland Transport Communications and Allied Workers Union (SWATCAWU), Sticks Nkambule said their members will be marching to the Manzini Police Regional Headquarters. “We will be seeking a response to the petition listing our grievances that we delivered there in May 17 2022. The government has still not given us a response to our demands. We will not be working today and as such we do not expect the situation at the Manzini bus rank to be normal.”
Members of the Eswatini Kombi’s and Bus Allied Workers Union (EKABAWU) will also withdraw from the bus rank and will not be at work. The President of EKABAWU, Mxolisi Fakudze said “we have to take into consideration the safety of the commuters, and our buses so we will not be at work.”
Commuters residing in some of the townships and suburbs in Manzini and the capital Mbabane could not get to work because of the scarcity of transport. Many others stayed at home in fear of the expected confrontation between the security forces and the progressive forces.
Those mini buses that continued to operate struggled to fill up their kombi’s with passengers as many of the commuters opted to stay at home.
Other members of the Multi Stakeholder Forum who have vowed to participate in the June 29 commemoration are the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) who have urged the youth to organize and to defend themselves. SWAYOCO’s Secretary General, Mciniseli Vilakati said “we call upon young people to render this country ungovernable until we reach our much-desired freedom. We call upon SNUS, TUCOSWA, SNAT, PPA, MSF, SUDF, Public Transport Workers, Agricultural and Plantation workers and all other organs of the mass democratic movement to all work towards a total onslaught on this regime as we commemorate the first anniversary of the June 2021 massacre of our people.”
The MSF in Mbabane has planned to march from the Coronation Park to the office of the Prime Minister where they will deliver a petition. Security in both of the country’s major urban areas remains high with security forces stationed at strategic points throughout the cities.