Keynote address by PUDEMO President – Cde Mario Masuku on the occasion of the official opening of the 7th General Congress of SWAYOCO on the 19th June, 2004
Youth of Swaziland unite and rise against royal oppression
Affirming the decade of liberation through popular and militant youth struggles
President of SWAYOCO,
Members of PUDEMO NEC,
Members of SWAYOCO NEC,
President of PUDEMO Women’s League,
Distinguished guests and allies of our movement,
Fraternal representatives and friends,
Cde chairperson, receive on behalf of the National executive committee of PUDEMO, revolutionary and fraternal greetings from the entire membership of PUDEMO and the mass of the struggling people of our country.
It is an honour for anyone to be afforded the special opportunity to address, let alone open such an esteemed gathering of militants and fighters. But above all, the supreme honour of being the keynote speaker is humbling to say the least.
In our keynote input we seek to avoid saying the expected or convention, but fundamentally to engage intensively with the perspectives as outlined in your well prepared discussion documents. The message we carry with us from our cadres and ordinary people is that the people’s patience has run out and that we are seemingly moving behind the masses. We need to pick up pace and forge ahead as soon as possible, if we are to reclaim our rightful position as the leader of the people’s struggle.
This Congress should be one of the last such gatherings as we prepare our final blow to liquidate the forces of tinkhundla oppression. This imposes upon all of us the duty of ensuring that we plan carefully and prepare a realistic, simple and time-framed action programme, which shall serve to inspire all our people into action.
We also take this opportunity to recognize and appreciate the presence, amongst us, of our esteemed friends and allies, particularly from the South African tripartite alliance who have given us this refuge and the support we need to successfully prosecute the tasks of our revolution.
As we do so, we wish to further take this opportunity to salute President Thabo Mbeki and the ANC-led alliance as whole, for the well deserved overwhelming victory in the recent third general elections of a democratic South Africa. We say to you comrades, you worked so hard and you did it on behalf of all of us on the continent. We pledge to play our part in the struggle to eliminate all obstacles to progress in our continent, by intensifying the struggle in our own country.
We have come a long way in our struggle for democracy
It was 21 years ago, on the rocks and banks of the Mbuluzi river nearly 10 kilometres north of Mbabane, when the finest sons and daughters of the Swazi people gathered to form this glorious people’s movement. They declared for all the people of the world to know that;
“We, the people of Swaziland met on the 6th July, 1983 to form the People’ s United Democratic Movement, to represent fully the interests of the people of Swaziland and to unite them against undemocratic governance, oppression, exploitation, unfair discrimination, corruption, nepotism and favouritism. We declare to the world that Swaziland belongs to all its people regardless of race, colour, sex, religion or social status and that PUDEMO is our true representative. We dedicate ourselves to struggling together in unity until final victory”.
When the leadership of the movement was detained in the now famous TREASON TRIAL of 1991, the urgency of forming a youth movement was brought to the fore, which resulted in the birth of SWAYOCO in 1991. This was informed by the need to “struggle….till final victory”, knowing well that a youth rooted in revolutionary consciousness, is the only guarantor of this declaration. It is the only generation that can both fight, as well as live in that new and democratic society, which inspires it to be impatient, therefore, militant. It is also a generation which has not yet accepted the poisonous virus of royal supremacy and are committed to its eradication for the creation of a just society. It is really encouraging to see how SWAYOCO has lived true to this mandate and has kept the fires burning under the most difficult times.
SWAYOCO and PUDEMO cadres have been on the receiving end of the viciousness of tinkhundla tyranny. Swazi police and army records are the best witnesses of what I am referring to here. Many of you here have been in and out of jail, some of you are still having their cases pending and are out on bail, the Secretary General, Cde Kenneth Kunene and the Chief Political Commissar, Cde Alex Langwenya together with Cdes Roland Rudd, Lynn Mazibuko, Siboniso Ncongwane, Lovemore Mabaso and Chris Dlamini are just examples.
But we say to all of you, your sacrifices are not in vain, the history books are very much alive to the reality of your efforts and the impact you are making in changing our people’s lives for the better through struggle.
There is no doubt we continue to inspire the masses of the people of Swaziland into action around the ideals set out in the People’s manifesto. The struggle to broaden the frontiers of democracy and human dignity are the core demands of the people in their daily struggles for: better working conditions and wages; free trade union activity and the rights to free organization, expression and association in general; an end to the abuse of women and children; an end to the economic crisis and unemployment; a health system that improves the lives of our people; land to the landless and jobs for the jobless; as well as an immediate end to royal-supervised slavery in the name of culture and all the evils of the tinkhundla system.
The crisis of the system have reached a point of irreversibility;
- More than 66% of our people live in grinding poverty, particularly in rural areas
- The HIV and AIDS pandemic has reached a genocidal point, where it threatens to wipe out the entire nation, unless there is urgent response and political will to deal decisively with this national disaster, which is now said to be at 40% of the adult population, thus making Swaziland a world leader in this regard.
- With unemployment at 40%, what hope is there for the majority of our poor people, young people in particular
- The education crisis have exposed the extent to which the regime’s short-sighted royal vision has reached a dead end
- Daily rural people are being kicked out of their land, to make way for royal family members and their friends, thus rendering the majority of our people desperate, because their only source of livelihood is being taken away from them
- In peri-urban areas, townships in particular neo-liberal programmes of transforming land and other basic needs into commodities is turning our people into squatters.
These and many others are just some of the issues that our people are daily being subjected to, and unless we struggle, our very survival is at stake as a people.
What should be done?
We have said it over and over again that this is not the time to lament about the extent of tinkhundla tyranny or the suffering of our people, but this is the time for action. We are here not as pitiful victims of royal oppression, but as militants in struggle against royal oppression.
We proclaim for all to know that we are gathered here to plan how best to prosecute the tasks of the Swazi revolution for the speedy liquidation of the royal monster in our country. We are gathered as militants and freedom fighters committed to the destruction of the tinkhundla system, without offering any apologies.
Therefore, it only makes sense that we should dedicate most of our time to answering the question, what should be done? This is a practical question which seeks to challenge our most creative energies into motion. It brings to the fore the issue of how far are we prepared to take our declared commitment of fighting against oppression. Are we seeing this goal realized soon or we are referring to some distant dream, when we say we want a democratic and free Swaziland.
PUDEMO has consistently stated that we must “intensify an all-round offensive against the system of royal oppression in our country”, as a pre-condition for the successful advance towards democracy. In this regard, your discussion documents correctly refer to three primary tasks of the Swazi revolution in the most immediate period;
- Propaganda and agitation to inspire the masses into action
- Political education and cadreship development to develop leadership and supply all layers of our society with quality cadres
- Strong organization and mass action on the ground to fight and win in the real battlefield of struggle
What a brief and correct summary of what should be done. No other outline could be better than that in your own discussion documents. I hope you all have thoroughly digested and understood the documents, because they really contain the core of what we need to do, and shall be doing in the coming period. By this I am equally referring to PUDEMO cadres who, I should suppose have also read them with a full understanding.
PUDEMO in the next few months shall be holding its Annual National Conference. What we want to say is that this one shall be a totally different conference from all the others, both in its form of organizational quality, as well as its political content and quality of debates. The process towards it shall be characterised by popular assemblies of the poor and struggling masses to discuss what outcomes they would like to see from the conference and to answer the question, what should be done? themselves. All structures of the movement shall be expected to lead this offensive in their own communities. The outcomes should be a popular platform of action, upon which a popular movement should be launched and sustained under the political leadership of PUDEMO.
The process towards it has already started and it is rapidly unfolding at all levels. This Congress is but one of them in a sense, because certainly we shall benefit from the quality of the discussion that shall constitute a key part of this historic gathering. We have identified five critical areas which were identified by the Piet Retief Conference in April, 2003, which I will put in the form of questions as follows;
- What kind of a PUDEMO is required to lead the Swazi struggle
- How do we deepen progressive hegemony in our society, whilst at the same time, rolling back the poisonous virus of royal hegemony in all aspects of Swazi society to win the hearts and minds of the people for a new society
- How do we transform gender relations and land ownership patterns in our country, so as to qualitatively transform the whole society and re-organise the way of life of our people
- What is the alternative economic system we are fighting for, which shall guarantee all our people an improved quality of life
- What kind of a world order are we fighting for and in what way is this struggle reinforced by the one we are waging in Swaziland, given the global balance of forces
This five-point action plan is the core of our transition programme.
Certainly comrades, from the above tasks flow the reality of the fact that, “there is so much to be done, but there are few of us in the field”, as the bible would say. Let us indeed all be first in commitment, first in sacrifice and first in discipline in practical action as SWAYOCO motto states.
We call upon all cadres of this movement to stand up to its defence, the forces of reaction are on the offensive and we must defend the ideals of PUDEMO as articulated in the people’s manifesto. There is no other time to prove our war-readiness for the cause of our people.
If this Congress is to be judged as successful by future generations, it must be because it correctly responded to the question, what should be done. It must give the marching orders to the thousands of cadres in the battlefield, who are eager to know what is the next course of action in the liberation process.
The mass of our people are waiting to hear what is the message from this Congress, we cannot therefore miss this historic opportunity to communicate properly the message of hope and inspiration. The key message we must send to all and everybody is that the time for liberation cannot be postponed any further. Our country has bled enough, has been plundered and looted enough, we need to act now to save it from degenerating to extreme levels of political savage, into which the royal supremacists are leading it.
The following are the most immediate activities of our movement;
- 6th July anniversary – the birth date of our movement is always an important day in our political calendar and as already outlined, the activities in the programme are on course. This year marks the 21st anniversary of PUDEMO.
- August – in our political calendar this month is a HEROES month, because we use it to remember our fallen heroes, whilst at the same time it is also a month of SWAYOCO’s birth.
- September – we shall be holding our Annual National Conference, work must intensify in this regard. The Imvuselelo Plan (PUDEMO’s Organisational Renewal Plan shall be clearly articulated).
- October – December, this period shall mark a series of activities which shall be announced in due course by the NEC, and all cadres are informed to be at their posts mobilizing our people.
By this brief note, we wish your Congress all the best. Amandla!!