MBABANE: Mzwandile Dlamini, the Secretary General of the newly established Corectional Services Staff Association said he had been threatened with disciplinary charges by Nhlangano Chief Officer Sydwell Simelane for speaking to the media about issues of the Department without seeking permission from his superiors.
This comes after this Swaziland News reported that officers of His Majesty’s Correctional Services have established an Association that seeks to demand a salary increment for officers, decent accommodation and or better working conditions from Government.
Speaking to this Swaziland News on Sunday, the Secretary General said Simelane, who doubles as Legal and Human Rights Officer at Nhlangano Correctional Services told him that he was waiting for an instruction from the Headquarters to formally charge him, however, Dlamini said he was not intimidated.
“As a Secretary General of the Correctional Services Association, I am empowered by its Constitution to speak to the media on behalf of the officers who are members of the organization and will continue doing so without fear or favour”, said the Secretary General.
Reached for comments, Sydwell Simelane, Chief Officer denied ever threatening to charge the Secretary General of the Correctional Association, he said his engagement with Dlamini was just a minor conversation that was not formal.
“Angicolise kakhulu Nkhosi nangabe ungitsetse kabi, kodvwa sibese siyayikhuluma kwendlula, ngeke abekwe licala.(meaning: Let me apologise to him if he misunderstood me when we talked, he won't be charged). Furthermore, let me clarify that it was just a minor conversation that he might have misinterpreted, I can assure you that he will not be charged. After realizing that he misunderstood me when we talked, I engaged him, we talked and sorted our disagreement. Let me once again apologize Nkhosi, he will not be charged”, said the Chief Officer.
Speaking to this publication on the subject matter, Sibusiso Nhlabatsi, a human rights lawyer said the Staff Association was established in terms of the Correctional Services Act, therefore, there shouldn’t be any threat against it's leaders when they speak to the media on issues affecting the officers.
“The Staff Association was established in terms of the Correctional Services Act to represent the officers on bread and butter issues, therefore there shouldn’t be any threat against leaders of the Association for speaking on behalf of the officers. The Association and the Department of Correctional Services are two separate entities and you can’t expect the Public Relations Officer(PRO) of the Department to speak to the media about operational issues of the Association, it’s the Secretary General and other leaders who must do so on behalf of the officers. We must understand that Eswatini has a bad reputation with the International Labour Organisation(ILO) for violating workers rights, so if the Department is seen frustrating the operations of the Association and threatening it's leaders, the country might go back to the special paragraph”, said the human rights Lawyer.
A Correctional officer who spoke to this publication said it would be hard for their superiors to intimidate officers by targeting leaders of the Association because the challenges they were facing continued to create more tension within the Department.
“Apart from the salary issues that angered the officers after Government awarded only senior officers an increment, we are struggling with uniform here, it’s winter now and we have no coats. Furthermore, we are accommodated in leaking houses that cannot be occupied by any ‘sane’ human being” said the officer
Mzwandile Dlamini- Correctional Services Association Secretary General