By Sifiso Nhlabatsi | 2020-02-14
THE Industrial Court of Eswatini has ruled that the Extra Ordinary Congress of the Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA) was null and void.
On Wednesday, Industrial Court President Judge Sifiso Nsibande made the ruling that the Nurses Association’s EOC held on 19 October last year was unlawful and that all resolutions taken at the congress are to be set aside and declared invalid.
This judgment came after a longstanding division between leaders of SNA about the legality of the EOC.
After the EOC, a decision was made by the union to hold the General Congress on October 23-25, 2019 at Esibayeni Lodge.
Menzi Nkomo (Organising Secretary for Shiselweni) applied that the court should declare the EOC meeting unlawful and decisions taken during that meeting invalid. On 22 October after arguments by the parties, the court issued a rule nisi interdicting the General Congress pending finalisation of the application.
When reading his judgment, Judge Nsibande stated that from the onset of the arguments in November when the matter was last heard before court, the respondents indicated that the applicant (Nkomo) had not been dismissed from the position of Regional Organising Secretary. He said the court was left to consider whether the extra-ordinary congress held on 19 October 2019 and the general congress that had been scheduled for 23-25 October 2019 were lawfully arranged.
The Extra Ordinary Congress was challenged on the basis that it was improperly convened in contravention of clause 11.2.2 of the respondent’s constitution.
Clause 11.2.2 reads that an Extra-Ordinary Congress; shall have the same powers as the General Congress, it may be called by 75 per cent of the existing SWADNU regions, it may be called to fill vacant positions in the National Office Bearers (NOBs). It is also stated that only in exceptional circumstances, the Extra-Ordinary Congress may be called by 75 per cent of the union to address matters affecting the union at national level.
The applicant’s complaint, according to Judge Nsibande is that contrary to articles 11.2.2 and 11.2.4 of SNA’s constitution, the extra-ordinary congress was called by less than 75 per cent of the regions of the union.
Nkomo, in his application before court argued that it was common cause that in May 2019, the leadership of SNA proposed that an Extra-Ordinary Congress be held for purposes of making amendments to certain clauses of its constitution.
He added that it was common cause that the three regions; Hhohho, Lubombo and Shiselweni (the applicant’s region) supported the proposal. The Manzini region objected to the congress.
Nkomo averred that the Shiselweni region approved the congress with certain conditions and that, when the national leadership failed to address those conditions, the Shiselweni region withdrew its approval of the congress.
“We, therefore come to the conclusion that the respondent breached article 13.1.4 and that it is not entitled to hold the General Congress in circumstances, where it has not complied with its own constitution,” Nkomo submitted.
After these submissions by Nkomo before Judge Nsibande, the judge ordered that the EOC held on 19 October be declared unlawful.
He ordered that all resolutions taken at the said Extra-Ordinary Congress be set aside as invalid. The judge ordered that the General Congress sought to be held without nomination in terms of articles 13.1.4 of SNA’s constitution is invalid and unlawful.
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