Skeleton staff operated banks and the important sugar refining industry all but ground to a halt yesterday as Swazi workers stepped up action on the second and final day of a general strike to press for multiparty elections.
The Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions organised the stoppages to pressure Africa's last absolute monarch, King Mswati III, to allow multiparty national elections in October 2008.
Swaziland has been ruled by royal decree since the declaration of a state of emergency in 1973. Mswati has faced criticism for his lavish spending and love of luxury cars in the impoverished country, which is ravaged by one of the world's highest HIV-Aids rates.
Security was tight in the main towns yesterday, with the government trying to prevent teachers from taking industrial action. Authorities said civil servants who went on strike would forfeit their pay. - Sapa-AP