IndustriALL Global Union condemns the arrest of Comrade Wonder Mkhonza, Deputy General Secretary of the Swaziland Processing, Refining and Allied Workers Union.
Mkhonza was arrested on 12 April during mass activities to protest the 40 year old state of emergency that bans political parties and that recently banned the only trade union centre in the country, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland-TUCOSWA. Mkhonza is the chairperson of the coordinating council of the manufacturing unions which are working towards a merger in Swaziland, a process fully supported by IndustriALL.
Mkhonza is appearing at the high court on Wednesday 24 April. He has been denied visitation and has up to now not been allowed access to a lawyer. Our immediate concern is for Mkhonza’s safety and we are reminded of fellow Swazi trade unionist Sipho Jele who died under suspicious circumstances whilst in police custody in 2010.
IndustriALL has launched an international campaign to demand the immediate release of Wonder Mkhonza and that charges against him, which include sedition, be immediately dropped. You can support the campaign here:
Actions by the Swazi government continue to be in contravention of ILO conventions and the African People’s Charter and the UN Human rights charters. We demand that the Swazi government stop the harassment of trade unionists. We also demand that the Swaziland government uphold internationally recognized right to freedom of association and recognize the legitimacy of the recently formed trade union federation in the country TUCOSWA
We further call upon the Swazi government to recognize the right to freedom of assembly and allow for citizens to engage in peaceful protest.
We also call on all African governments to put pressure of the Swazi government end the 40 year state of emergency and embrace democracy.
African trade union leaders received a report on the harassment of trade union leaders at a meeting of IndustriALL Global Union being held in Midrand, South Africa on 23 April. IndustriALL represents 50 million members in 140 countries. We represent workers globally across supply chains in the energy, mining, manufacturing and related sectors, including members of our Swazi affiliated unions.
For further information contact please contact IndustriALL Africa Regional Secretary Fabian Nkomo +27 (0)725157415.