MBABANE: Phindile Dlamini, the Commissioner General of His Majesty’s Correctional Services allegedly abused her powers by forcing junior officers into a newly established Correctional Services Death Benefit Fund that stands to cash millions of Emalangeni from the financially struggling warders.
An independent investigation by this Swaziland News obtained documents marked ‘confidential’ suggesting that the Commissioner General’s backed Death Benefit Fund stands to collect about E2million per annum and or over E10million in the next five years from the pockets of the about 2000 correctional officers who are expected to contribute E100.00 each monthly for a period of three months and thereafter E50.00 per month till death. Aggrieved officers within the Correctional institution who spoke to this publication expressed concern that they are being forced into this Burial Fund despite that some of them are already subscribing with insurance companies like Dups.
“Every correctional officer is forced to make monthly contributions towards this whether you have a funeral cover or not it’s an order by the Commissioner General” said the insider.
When asked to share a comment on the subject matter, Mduduzi Gina, the Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland(TUCOSWA) said no employer have a right to force an employee to join a burial scheme or anything that might result to the deduction of his or her salary.
“No employer is expected to behave like a guardian to an employee taking decisions or directing an employee of what to do with his/her salary. The employer must just remunerate and the employee will then decide what to do with the salary. So, the truth of the matter is that, it is not proper for any employer to force employees or behave in a manner that might force them to join any scheme including, burial, funeral schemes, stokvels or whatever kind of schemes. We are aware that within the Correctional Services, the employees are sometimes even forced to contribute for the King’s birthday, this is wrong” said the TUCOSWA Secretary General.
Evidence in our possession further suggests that on or around July 2020, shortly after issuing the order, the Commissioner General circulated a postdated blank form with her signature, insiders allege that all junior officers were ordered to sign before 20 July 2020 with serious consequences for those who might defy the highest authority of the organization.
“I…being a member of HMCS Death Benefit Fund authorize the Commissioner General and the Accountant General to deduct monthly contribution from my salary” read the form in part expected to be signed by all officers.
Reached for comments by this publication, the Commissioner General failed to answer specific questions why the officers were forced into the burial scheme, this was after the documents she allegedly signed were forwarded to her to enable her to give an informed response.
In the midst of this investigation, this publication obtained a copy of the Constitution of the Burial Scheme in question, which states that this initiative was established to provide financial support to members of the Fund.
“The financial support shall be extended in the event of death of the member, his or her spouse, child, parent(s) in law or legal guardian provided, an additional subscription is paid for the parent(s), or the member of the parent is single and without a child” read article 1.2 of the HMCS Constitution.
Wander Mkhonza, the Secretary General of the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) advised the Correctional Officers to establish a union that will deal with their concerns. Speaking to this publication, Mkhonza said these officers were supposed to be benefiting from earnings obtained from the Staff Canteen, however, this project meant to benefit all the members of His Majesty’s Correctional services is only enriching the superiors.
“It is therefore wrong for the Correctional superiors to again demand money from the junior officers to establish this Burial Scheme when on the other hand they are cashing on the Staff Canteen monies” he said.
HMCS Commissioner General Dlamini Phindile Dlamini