Africa-Press – Eswatini. Four activists were injured when chaos ensued during the Workers’ Day celebration hosted by TUCOSWA, as members of PUDEMO clashed with their counterparts from SWALIMO and CPS.
The four people, including a female, three members of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) and one member of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), were injured. Two of them had to be rushed to hospital after the skirmish which involved them (PUDEMO members) and members of the Swaziland Liberation Movement (SWALIMO), together with those of CPS during the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland’s (TUCOSWA’s) Workers’ Day commemoration. The event, which attracted hundreds of workers from various sectors, was held at St Paul’s Methodist Sports Ground on Sunday.
This happened at a time when TUCOSWA leadership was on the stage and the federation’s Secretary General Mduduzi Gina was addressing the attendees of the event. SWALIMO members, who were on the left side of the stage, started singing a political song titled; ‘Asiyifuni i-agenda yema capitalists’ and by so doing, they disrupted the federation’s secretary general. Gina had to stop while TUCOSWA marshals tried to control the SWALIMO members.
The TUCOSWA marshals’ efforts were in vain as the SWALIMO members continued to sing and dance to the political song and went to an extent of getting into the barricaded area – where the stage was mounted. According to some of the SWALIMO members, they disrupted Gina’s speech as means to protest about two issues. One of the issues, they said, was that the organisation was not given an opportunity to send its message of solidarity to the workers. Again, the insiders said they were also protesting about a speech which was made by PUDEMO President Mlungisi Makhanya, which they felt was direct attack on their President, Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane, who is in self-exile. In his speech, the PUDEMO president said unity could not be achieved when some people were being cowards and feared being arrested. He said this was because cowards could never be on the same battle line with the brave.
hereafter, he chanted a slogan; ‘Viva comrade Bacede Viva’. Bacede is another name of the incarcerated Hosea Member of Parliament (MP) Mduduzi Mabuza, who is behind bars together with Ngwempisi MP Mthandeni Dube. While the TUCOSWA marshals were trying to stop the SWALIMO members from disrupting the proceedings, other leaders and members of political parties, including those under PUDEMO banner, intervened.
Thereafter, some leaders and members of SWALIMO had a heated confrontation with the PUDEMO president and some of his followers. The confrontation was joined by more members from both political parties, but eventually, PUDEMO members pulled their president out of the barricaded area, where the altercation was taking place. In the meantime, the TUCOSWA leadership, which was on the stage, watched as the members of the two political parties, who were their guest in the event, exchanged words.
Afterwards, some members of CPS and others from Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Swaziland joined their counterparts from SWALIMO in song and the workers’ federation’s secretary general intervened. He said comrades who had grievances should allow the speeches to continue and their issues would be addressed later. However, the SWALIMO members started singing another song titled; ‘Makuliwe’ and more members of SWALIMO entered the barricaded area. Later on, the federation’s secretary general said as an organisation and host, they could not allow comrades to deliberately disrupt their event. He said they could stop them, but the challenge was that the federation was built on a foundation of unity.
Meanwhile, some members of PUDEMO, who were on the right side of the stage, went behind it and occupied the space where there were members of SWALIMO. Within the twinkling of an eye, another heated argument ensued and there was pushing and shoving, while others manhandled each other. At times, some members of CPS were spotted being actively involved in the squabble. Thereafter, sticks and beer bottles were flying all over from both ends and some attendees ran for cover. There are allegations that a member of PUDEMO was stabbed during the skirmish. It was alleged that some CPS members blocked the main gate to the sports ground, yet PUDEMO wanted to rush the injured members to hospital. The source said it was then that members of PUDEMO used force to drive away those who were at the gate. He said they did so by stoning them and they ran away.
Later on, PUDEMO National Organiser Penuel Malinga’s car, a Ford Ranger Double Cab LDV, was seen leaving the venue at high speed and insiders within the political entity said it was rushing about three members, who were injured during the fight, to hospital. Reports which reached this publication later on the day was that Malinga found that his car tyres (all four) were stabbed. The national organiser confirmed the incident and said it would cost him about E8 000 to buy new tyres. Worth noting is that Malinga is a victim of arson attack as his home at Mbekelweni was petrol-bombed by unknown arsonists recently. Again, it is worth noting that there was a standoff among leaders of political parties organised under the banner of the Political Party Assembly (PPA). When the PPA was called to issue a statement of solidarity to the workers, the arrangement was that one of the leaders would speak on behalf of them.
However, later on, it was said that each leader representing a political party would be given three minutes and at the end the chairperson of the PPA give a summary. However, when Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) President Sibongile Mazibuko, who is the Chairperson of PPA, announced that the PUDEMO president (Makhanya) would speak first and other leaders would follow and that she would summarise at the end, Makhanya refused to take the microphone. In fact, he asked her not to do what she was doing. Thereafter, Sive Siyinqaba National Movement Acting Chairman Ngom’yayona Gamedze took the microphone with the intention of speaking first, but when he was about to start addressing the attendees, some people shouted that the programme should not be changed. They then protested and sang a song titled; ‘Asiyifuni i-agenda yama capitalists’. As a result, the chairperson of PPA decided to speak first and was followed by a leader from the Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA). EFF Swaziland was next and it was followed by Swaziland People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). Thereafter, it was Sive Siyinqaba National Movement, CPS and PUDEMO was last.