In a statement issued on August 8th, the Communist Party of Swaziland slams the dictatorship regime of King Mswati III for the continuous suicides of workers in the country:
The toiling masses of Swaziland are not surprised by the suicide of a young teacher on 5 August 2018 after the Swaziland government failed to pay him for three months. Yet again, Mswati has blood on his hands.
Mxolisi Ndlangamandla was a contract teacher. Mswati’s government has been casualising the teaching profession, meaning that even if one is a fully qualified teacher the government no longer hires them permanently. These contracts range from one to twenty-four months, with the government reserving the right to either renew or discontinue the contract if it deems fit. Consequently, teachers forfeit the benefits they should be getting; housing allowance, travel allowance, pension and other benefits.
On the other hand, the regime aims to weaken the teachers union since contract teachers like Ndlangamandla are ineligible to fully participate in union activities in fear of termination of their contracts.
Ndlangamandla’s case is thus one of many such sad cases happening in the public and private sectors. A 2017 report by the National Psychiatric Hospital says Swaziland recorded 125 suicides in 12 months, the main cause being depression. 18 percent of Swazis attempted suicide in 2017. But the numbers could be higher. The World Health Organisation put the number at 189 deaths – 1.69 percent of total deaths – ranking Swaziland at number 18 in the world.
Ndlangamandla’s suicide is thus traceable to the mistreatment that many workers face in Swaziland; heavy taxes, suppression of the right to freedom of speech, among other rights which would enable workers to speak out and unite freely against oppression.
It is clear that the amount of economic pressure placed upon the people is a greater cause to the number of young people committing suicide.
Many police officers, for example, have been forced into suicide due to debt incurred after late payments by Mswati’s government. Just recently, police officers, soldiers and warders had their salaries deducted in order to fund Mswati’s birthday party. In June, police officers were ordered to pay towards the cost of their Police Day and Passing-Out ceremony. Workers are also burdened with heavy taxes to fund Mswati’s insatiable lust for luxury, with the latest introduction of such taxes brought by the Finance Bill of 2018. This will definitely have an impact on the lives of the toiling masses.
It is clear that the Mswati autocracy is incapable of resolving the problems of Swaziland. This situation will only get worse unless the absolute regime is overthrown.
With the regime having spent over E1 billion (about US$75m) to celebrate Mswati’s lavish birthday bash, further impoverishing the already close to 70 percent population which survives on less than US$2 a day, the people’s anger can no longer be suppressed. The people have no choice but to intensify the fight against the Mswati regime. The campaign against the tinkhundla sham elections is an essential and inseparable part of the struggle against the tinkhundla regime, for the creation of a truly free democratic country and a government accountable to the people.