Ahead of the court appearance of Sticks Nkambule, Secretary General of Swaziland Transport Communication and Allied Workers Union, on trumped-up charges of contempt of court stemming from his involvement in organizing a stay away action in December 2022, Vongai Chikwanda, Amnesty International’s Interim Deputy Director for Southern Africa, said:
The harassment and intimidation of Sticks Nkambule shows that Eswatini authorities are effectively criminalizing peaceful dissentVongai Chikwanda, Amnesty International's Interim Deputy Director for East and Southern Africa
“The harassment and intimidation of Sticks Nkambule and the union that he represents for simply organizing a protest shows that the authorities in Eswatini are effectively criminalizing peaceful dissent. The message they are sending is loud and clear: those who dare to differ with those in power will be punished.
“Authorities must drop the sinister charges against Sticks Nkambule, stop criminalizing dissent and respect the people’s rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. This travesty of justice must end.
Criminalizing people who express their views and protest goes against Eswatini’s Constitution, which guarantees the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and associationVongai Chikwanda
“Criminalizing people who express their views and protest goes against Eswatini’s Constitution, which guarantees the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. It also violates the country’s international human rights obligations including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Eswatini is a state party.”
“Eswatini authorities must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of everyone in the country and allow people to freely exercise their rights. Authorities must stop using the criminal justice system to harass, intimidate and persecute those who dare to stand up for their rights including union leaders and protesters.”
Sticks Nkambule is facing contempt of court charges connected to the stay away strike that took place on 13 and 14 December 2022 which was organised by the Swaziland Transport Communication and Allied Workers Union (SWATCAWU), a coalition of trade unions.
The protest was organized to demand the release of Mthandeni Dube and Bacede Mabuza, Members of the Eswatini Parliament incarcerated since 25 July 2021 for calling for political reforms in the country. Sticks is listed as the first respondent to the case, while his union is the second respondent.
The other two unions, the Eswatini Kombi and Buses Allied Union, Swaziland Commercial Amadoda Road Transport Association, are third and fourth respondent respectively.