Friday, September 16, 2011


People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)


15 September 2011


PUDEMO says King Mswati must take responsibility for financial crisis

The 2nd global week of action for democracy in Swaziland has come and gone.

The masses of our people in their thousands have come out to embrace in action the demand for peaceful transition to democracy, marching and demonstrating in all the major towns of our country and with small spontaneous marches in far off centers like Lavumisa, Mahamba and Vuvulane.

This is a clear demonstration that our people are taking the call for democratisation to heart. If one doubted the desire of our people to live in a free country where men and women, literate and not, rural and urban, employed and not will exercise their rights fully they must look back at the success of this Global week of action for answers.

Unlike what we have seen in many demonstrations, with this one the numbers were growing as the days unfolded. The estimates from organisers are that by the end of the week more than 50 000 people had come out to demand freedom. This is a milestone in the political history of our people. It demonstrates that if we are united we can wage a successful struggle.

Image that will not be forgotten though is the brutality of the state police on peaceful, disciplined and unarmed demonstrators who for all intent and purposes maintained their calm despite repeated provocation from the state.

Even when the police have planted their own agent provocateurs within the marchers to disrupt and engage in criminal activities, our people maintained discipline. Police bought union t-shirts and gave them to their agents to plant mayhem within the demonstrations and the people remained disciplined.

The poor market vendors significantly in Siteki collected among themselves bowls of fruits and food and gave for free to the marchers. A 76 year old prophet joined the front line of the demonstration by students in Mbabane.

Some transport operators allowed some demonstrators to ride for free on the second day of the protests. Three children aged 7-14 brought food for their mother and father who were both at the march in Nhlangano. PUDEMO salutes this emerging spirit and call on more unity among the oppressed. It is only through our unity in action that we will win.

At the same time, PUDEMO pays special tribute to the lawyers of our country who while their main source of income is through representing people in courts have for a month now, refused to go to court in defense of the independence of the judiciary.

This is a struggle that on its own must be supported and all of us must render support where necessary. The Law Society of Swaziland has demonstrated to all of us that they can sacrifice for the good of the country and for that PUDEMO salutes our learned friends and calls on the Minister of Justice to immediately act on the crisis. The issue of the Chief Justice is a national issue and we are all concerned. It’s time we have an experienced, disciplined, impartial and respected local judge as a CJ. We have such calibre on our bench.

Last year only six international cities participated and this year the number exponentially grew to 23 cities around the world in support of the action, in solidarity with the people of Swaziland as an indication that the people of the world cannot be fooled anymore.

The world now understands what PUDEMO has always been saying throughout the years that there is no freedom in Swaziland. ITUC affiliates throughout the world organised activities: COSATU sent in its top leadership to be in the trenches with us, the Swazi vigil in UK, German Students, Africa Contact all held simultaneous activities; and the World Federation of Trade Unions hosted an international Solidarity Conference on Swaziland in France on 12-14 September.

International organisers have assured us that the next global week will see activities in more than 100 cities simultaneously with the activities in Swaziland. As we intensify our international work, PUDEMO through its Department of International Relations will be mounting a campaign for the isolation of the Swazi regime from international organisations such as SADC, AU, CW and the UN until there is democracy in this country. We will intensify the cultural boycott campaign and smart sanctions against the elite as adopted in our 2006 General Congress and further endorsed by Swazi Civic organisations in 2010.

The demands for the unbanning of political parties and the return of exiles are at the core. The demand for a democratic constitution and democratic elections are fundamental. They can and will not be traded for anything. The mushrooming of many political parties some opportunistically as they may be is a positive indication that once and for all dispels the gospel of the regime that Swazi people do not want political parties. As we speak we now have at least 13 political parties formed after the banning of political parties in 1973.

The increasing cooperation between existing political parties in particular the NNLC and PUDEMO is again another positive that dispels the false gospel of the regime that political parties fight each other and sow seeds of enmity and hatred.

Therefore, as PUDEMO has declared in the last congress that the phase we are in is a time "to build a national momentum towards democracy" we recommit that nothing will stop us from building unity of the progressive forces, no matter what it takes. What we will not do though is neither to be drawn into some window dressing quasi-unity agendas that do not take our struggle forward nor superficial stage-managed cooperation that seek to legitimize undemocratic and opportunistic projects that are aimed at benefiting and enriching certain individuals and organisations at the expense of the Swazi nation. In this regard the strengthening and refocusing of the SUDF and its campaign wing the SDC is paramount and must not be abdicated. The unity of the trade union movement under its new banner TUCOSWA must be defended with all means at our disposal. The uprooting and isolation of opportunists from our ranks must be done unapologetically.

Finally, Swaziland must not think that it can swim against the tide. The democracy tsunami is already in motion and no one can stop it. Those who stand in the way of liberation will be swept like feather-light debris in a massive wave of a mighty sea. It will not assist Barnabas and his bosses to resist agreeing and signing the conditions for democratisation as part of an urgent bailout with the hope that things will turn back. We have long crossed the point of no return.

The Swazi government rejected advise given by the World Bank as way back as 2004-5 which among others proposed that there must be fiscal discipline, end to corruption, cut military spending, cut royal travel expenditure, etc. these were ignored. And the world knows

SACU is a recent thing, in which in any case Swaziland was over subsidized. During the days when things were fine, the tinkhundla regime did not see it fit to diversify the economy. Many sectors of our economy started shrinking in particular manufacturing and agriculture. The Global economic crisis is a recent thing which found Swaziland already in a mess. And also, just so that the people of Swaziland must know, the SACU share was cut because of Swaziland who arrogantly demanded that there should be an independent consultant to review the sharing formula.

An Australian firm was given the task and the recommendations of that process are what we see today hence Sbusiso is now flying a nose-diving plane and anyone in it during "landing" will perish with it upon impact. And now the king wants all of us to believe that this is a result of the global economic crisis and Swaziland deserves mercy from the world. While the IMF has its funny conditions, the crisis in Swaziland cannot be apportioned to it. The King and his government must take full responsibility especially because most of the country's
resources are mismanaged by the royal family in the first instance and the Sbusiso government through corruption, theft, nepotism and unnecessary expenditures.

Skhumbuzo Phakathi
Secretary General

See also


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