BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Monday, 13 November, 2000, 18:18 GMT
Three Swazi strike leaders arrested
Swaziland's parliament
The Parliament is a rubber-stamp for the king
Three organisers of a two-day strike in Swaziland calling for greater political freedoms have been arrested as the stay-away is partly observed.

Most schools and some factories are closed in the capital Mbabane and the industrial centre Manzini, but most offices, banks and shops opened as usual.

The strike, called for Monday and Tuesday, has been banned by a court order obtained by the government late on Sunday.

Trade union leaders are specifically objecting to a new law which makes workers liable for losses suffered as the result of industrial action.

Meetng in South Africa
Union leader Jan Sithole: meeting banned in Swaziland
They are also demanding democratic reform in the country, where King Mswati has absolute power, and rules by decree.

Those arrested are a senior member of the civil servant's association and two members of the banned Swaziland Youth Congress.

The government recently re-introduced provisions enabling police to hold suspects for 60 days.

External protest

The strike follows a meeting of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) in neighbouring South Africa a week ago which endorsed calls to end Swaziland's ban on political activities

King Mswati III:
King Mswati III: Criticised as increasingly autocratic
Political parties were banned by the late King Sobhuza II in 1973 when he suspended a constitution which allowed multi-party democracy.

On Friday police arrested Mario Masuku, the leader of the banned People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), on charges of uttering seditious statements against the king.


A correspondent for the BBC in Swaziland says the strike on Monday was less well-observed than recent action.

He said this is probably because of the government's action in banning the strike and re-introducing a 60-day detention law.

As a result of Swaziland's new new labour law, the United States has excluded it from some benefits under the recently passed Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.

T-shirted protester
Wearing the message: "Liberate Swaziland now"
It could also lead to Swaziland's expulsion from the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), an allied trade agreement for developing countries.

The government is due to hold discussions with a visiting delegation from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) over Swaziland's worsening industrial relations.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

06 Nov 00 | Africa
Swazis protest at king's rule
31 Aug 00 | Africa
No new bride for Swazi king
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories