he Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) is working on setting a new date for its proposed march against arbitrary arrests and police brutality.
This comes after the workers’ federation recorded a victory against the Municipal Council of Manzini, which had denied it permission to gather and march on the streets of the city to deliver a petition to the Manzini Police Regional Headquarters (RHQ). The matter started on February 2,
2022, when the federation served the municipality with a notice that it intended to assemble with members of its affiliates (workers) at King Somhlolo National Park on Wednesday February 9, 2022 at 9am and have a procession to Manzini Police RHQ. In the notice, the federation proposed that it would use Nkoseluhlaza Street, 7 Low Street and Mancishane Street. The application for the gathering was made in terms of Section 6 of the Public Order Act of 2017.
On February 4, 2022, the municipality, in its response, informed TUCOSWA that following a directive from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, to indefinitely suspend the issuance of permits for all processions within urban areas, it denied the application to assemble at King Somhlolo National Park and to utilise the proposed routes for procession. Thereafter, the workers’ federation approached its lawyer, Thulani Maseko from TR Maseko Attorneys and filed an urgent application at Manzini Magistrates Court on Tuesday. The first respondent in the matter was the Manzini mayor, while the second respondent was the Municipal Council of Manzini. The third and fourth respondents were the minister of housing and Urban Development and national commissioner (NATCOM) of police, respectively. Meanwhile, the attorney general (AG) was the fifth respondent. In the application’s prayer 2.1, the federation prayed to the court that the decision of the first and second respondents, which was communicated to it by letter dated February 4, 2022 – refusing it to gather at Somhlolo National Park, Manzini, on Wednesday February 9, 2022, should be reviewed and/or corrected or set aside.
Again, in prayer 2.2, it asked the court to declare the decision of the first respondent refusing it to gather at the Somhlolo National Park, to be unlawful, null and void and of no force or effect. In prayer three, the federation applied that the court should declare the decision of the minister of housing and Urban Development referred to in the letter dated February 4, 2022, to be null and void and of no force or effect in that the he (minister) allegedly had no power to order the suspension of filing of notices for gatherings and processions. In prayer four, the applicant applied that an order be issued that the NATCOM should not interfere with the peaceful gathering and procession of the federation. The matter was heard by Manzini Acting Principal Magistrate Sindisile Zwane on Tuesday afternoon, but was postponed to yesterday at 10am. However, it ended up being heard at 1:40pm.
Human Rights Lawyer Maseko, who represented the federation, informed the court that as counsels representing all the parties, they had agreed to an order to be issued by consent in terms of prayers 2.1, 2.2, three and four. Perhaps, he submitted, that the court should order that the federation’s application should be sent back to the first and second respondent for reconsideration. Thereafter, Lawyer Bandile Tsela, who represented the first and second respondents, confirmed the agreement by submitting that the consented prayers 2.1, 2.2, three and four should be granted. He added that his clients would abide by any decision which would be taken by the court. On the other hand, Lawyer Senelile Khumalo, who represented the third and fourth respondents, submitted she and her team consented that prayers 2.1, 2.2 and three should be granted by the court, except for prayer six, which talked about costs of the application, that it should be carried by the respondents in the event it was opposed.
Again, Khumalo submitted that prayer four, which talks about the interference of the police in the proposed march, should be in line with the Public Order Act of 2017. This Act says the police should be present to ensure peace and order. In response to that, the federation’s legal representative submitted that once the permit to march on the city’s streets was granted, the Public Order Act would be applied. In that regard, she informed the court that she was happy with the granting of prayers; 2.1, 2.2 and three. Thereafter, the acting principal magistrate said when it came to prayer three, the court would be guided by Section 10 of the Act, because it only gives the court power to review powers of the first and second respondents concerned.
However, Lawyer Maseko argued that the reasoning of the first and second respondents’ refusal to grant the applicant a permit was based on the minister’s directive, thus there was nothing that could stop it from granting prayer three as the counsels had reached a consensus on same. The court granted the applicant prayers 2.1 and 2.2 in terms of the application.
It also ordered that the first and second respondents should reconsider the application in terms of the Public Order Act of 2017. As such, after the case, TUCOSWA President Bheki Mamba and Secretary General Mduduzi Gina told their members that they would meet as an executive and decide on a new date for the march to deliver the petition.
Original story on Times of Swaziland