The way the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) presents itself as the ‘legitimate voice’ of the prodemocracy movement has been rejected by political and labour groups in the kingdom, according to an analysis just published.
And, the split between the SSN and its parent, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), could eventually lead to a decline in the potential impact of work for democracy in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The analysis came from the African Conflict Prevention Programme (ACPP) in Pretoria, South Africa, which is part of the Institute for Security Studies.
It came in a briefing after last week’s decision by PUDEMO to indefinitely suspend SSN and to throw it out of its office for ‘systemically launching vicious attacks on PUDEMO’.
ACPP says, ‘Those familiar with the SSN Google Forum would be acquainted with their aggressive descriptions of the monarchy elite and their permanent labelling of the ruling regime as nepotistic, discriminatory and oppressive.’
ACPP says, ‘the self-presentation of the SSN as the legitimate voice of the movement has been rejected by PUDEMO, other political entities and labour formations in the country.
It says the move by PUDEMO should not be seen as a ‘split’ in the democracy movement because the SSN is not at the centre of decision-making in the movement. Its role has, ACCP says, been to monopolise ‘the external public communications space on the country’s domestic politics’.
ACPP says, ‘The irony with the SSN’s suspension is that PUDEMO and the SSN, who both operate illegally since political party activities are criminalized, have generally had more similarities than differences in their political change approaches, which are characterized by the use of strong language, radicalism and revolutionary rhetoric.’
ACPP says, ‘[T]he PUDEMO/SNN rift signifies serious underlying weaknesses within the Swaziland Democratic Movement (SDM), which over the years has failed to address the tough questions on the true character of the movement; the extent to which there are assumed material incentives in SDM participation; and the degree of “free riding” within the group.’
ACPP says, ‘The mass democratic movement has a history of fragmentation based on both ideology and intra relations within the group. These fragmentations also challenge the self-presented notion of a collective identity within the SDM, inferring that collective identity is more a perception than a reality.’
ACPP says as a consequence the various democracy groups are unable to agree on campaign strategies and tactics for reform. It predicts that this will lead eventually to a decline in the potential impact of the movement.
To read the full briefing report click here.
SWAZI DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT SPLITS