A Right to reply – Qalakaliboli Dlamini’s letter to the editor dated Friday May 19, 2006 entitled “View about the recent blockade at our borders".
I have been a member of PUDEMO since its inception in 1983. I am a proud founding member of this giant political movement. I have served in various structures, from branches to regions and the General council. I will be completing a second term as PUDEMO Secretary General in October this year. All these years I have not found it important to reply to people who write letters to the editor. This is not because there is anything wrong in writing a letter to the editor. My misgivings are that most of these people use pseudonym and they normally hide their true identities. They are cowards. They are jealous of other people’s achievements. How then do you engage a ghost, I ask myself? If someone is man enough to stand up for what he believes in, why hide himself. I have never hidden my identity when it comes to issues I believe in. I have always detested the way we are governed, and since 1983 I have stood out to be seen and heard. The second reason is that you make the “ghost” to feel like he is a living being, he is breathing the same air we breath. I believe you just stoop low to his level and make him feel important. And that is dangerous and unwarranted. We must allow the dead to be amongst the dead.
Qalakaliboli – what is in a name?
This Qalakaliboli, God forgives me, the name speaks for itself. From the name QALAKALIBOLI, you can deduce that he was a mistake from day one. It could be that he is some sort of a case that is still to be concluded. I do not want to speculate what kind of case he is, but may be he was born in a wrong homestead, you know what I mean, may be “tahlangana emahlangeni.” I pray that his or her case be concluded before he or she passes on. Someone is not happy about his being hence liqala solo aliboli.
I have called a lot of the youth league members who were at the university during the time SWAYOCO was founded, and no one seemed to remember this fellow. Until he unmask himself or herself, I may safely say he is not telling the truth when he said he was once a member of this movement.
For the purposes of this writing let me say the author of the letter is a male ghost and hence I will use he when referring to him.
The issues raised
COSATU is not our crony (derogatory term for close friend or companion)
COSATU is, but a true ally in the liberation struggle for a free society. Our relationship with the tripartite alliance goes back to the struggle years. Whilst the Swazi Royal family was playing political prostitute with the Boers, trading on fellow African brothers and sisters (MK cadres) who were fighting for the freedom of the African people in Southern Africa, PUDEMO was either directly fighting on the side of the ANC or aiding it with logistical support. I am proud to state that I was honoured to have worked within the underground structures of the ANC. I put my life and those closer to me at risk for the liberation of South Africa. In short I was a true and full member of the MK.
COSATU is never begged to support the Swazi struggle.
Whenever we meet our true internationalists in South Africa we do not have to remind them to support our struggle. They know of our life long commitment to continue with the struggle until we are all free. I hope this is clear to all and sundry, COSATU will continue to do the noble thing and support the struggling masses of our country. They have been housing PUDEMO in their offices and accommodating our comrades in RSA. It is through their international support that we have managed to isolate the Royal family from the international community.
The blockade and its effect.
The reason that you are moaning about the blockade, it shows that is was very effective. We are encouraged about such feedback and thanks to you Qalakaliboli we will have another one soon. If only we knew you I was going to personally thank you. Every organization needs people like you to tell it how well they have sold their product. This border blockade product was well received by our customers, people like you.
Swazi Business and the struggle.
We must thank those businesspeople that have supported us all these years. They have paid for our offices, and made it a point that we attend conferences and meetings near and far. For that we thank them. To them we say it was unfortunate that the political repression in the country made us take the decision that we took, and in the process their business suffered. It was the case in RSA when there was economic boycott. Innocent businesses became casualties. Unfortunately that is the nature of the struggle anywhere in the world. All that we need to do is for all of us to work together and resolve the issues that affect Swaziland so that these things do not happen. It took brave businessmen in RSA to talk to the ANC in Zambia that a new political dispensation was ushered in. We call for true businesses to actively engage all parties for a genuine political dialogue so that we can all contribute in making Swaziland a country that we can be proud of.
I find it difficult that you Qalakaliboli are a true businessman. May be you are, so many ghost businessmen have mushroomed in recent months. These are the ones that looted E50 million of our taxpayer’s money over eight weeks. The way you talk, I am most inclined to believe that you may be one of them. Remember, most of them were ghost companies like you are. But do not forget that Liqala kaliboli. All the thieves will have to account one day.
A former card carrying member of SWAYOCO
I have adequately covered that in my opening paragraph. If indeed you happened to be a former member, I am sure you are one of those we dismissed because they were working for the state. Like all organizations fighting for freedom, there are those members who find the road to freedom too long, taxing, difficult and very dangerous for them to continue that they decide to turn around and become sellouts. These are always weeded out whenever they are discovered. We still have those at PUDEMO, and we will have them until victory is achieved. To me you fit this description if indeed you were once a member. True members do not leave an organization just because it has taken a few decisions that they are not happy with. The withdrawal of Comrade Mario Masuku from the Royal constitutional Review Commission was a democratic and popular decision. A lot of people, inside and outside the country agree with PUDEMO that that decision was correct. You must remember, all the principled members who were appointed to such shameful commissions resigned. It was not only Comrade Mario alone. Mandla Hlatjwako, Nkozo Hlatjwako, Doctor Jerry Gule, Muhawu Maziya and if I am not mistaken, Zombodze Magagula left these commissions at some point in time.
Why Comrade President Mario Masuku was withdrawn.
The reasons for withdrawing Comrade Mario were put forward. These included the manner in which he was appointed, which was not democratic. He was coming from our movement, and hence we were supposed to be invited to send a representative. And we would have sent a representative. It would have been highly unlikely that we would have sent Comrade Mario as he is our leader, a position we would have fallen back to for a mandate during the deliberation. Secondly, the terms of reference that forbid group submissions were not acceptable to us. We were a group that represented a certain interests, and hence whatever forums we would have participated in our mandate would have to espouse and defend those interests. The third reason why we withdrew comrade Mario was that the political ground was skewed in favour of the Royal family; as the 1973 decree, which you have mentioned, was still in place.
PUDEMO was right; the process of the CRC produced a document that ensures the continued enslaving of many Swazi families by one Dlamini family.
Sometime I am very ashamed to be a Dlamini, a family that has oppressed all the other families; Zwanes, Khumalos, Mambas, Hlatjwakos, Mkhaliphis, Masukus etc for over 254 years. This is the family that does not believe that any Swazi who bears another surname other that Dlamini can be a Prime Minister. In the new constitution the other surnames will now lose their old age rights to bear chiefs. By 2020, more than half of this country will have Dlamini chiefs under the new constitution. This is wrong, and it will take 14 years from now for people to say PUDEMO was right.
So, if Comrade Mario had participated in the CRC, people like Qala kaliboli would have said PUDEMO was part of the process and they contributed to the status quo that currently obtains; that of oppressive rule through an undemocratic constitution. We are proud that we saw that coming and we refused to be party to an unjust process that was meant to give birth to an undemocratic social order.
Failed to participate in an eight days hunger strike.
I am not surprised. You have the tendency to join a group, and when outvoted, turn around and blame the people who were your comrades or friends. Why did you join the hunger strike in the first place since it is clear you were a weakling? You nearly died before “your personal case was settled” Qalakaliboli. You should have told the comrades that you would not be able to engage in a hunger strike, and I do not believe someone would have forced you. Remember PUDEMO has been around for 23 years, and you just could not survive eight days. It is clear you could not have made it in our ranks, the struggle is very hot, and it will be hotter as we reach our destination, which is freedom that you and your children will enjoy.
Comrade Kislon Shongwe, a true compatriot and valiant soldier of our struggle.
If there is one member who has contributed immensely in putting PUDEMO in the forefront of our struggle today, it has to be Comrade Kislon. There is no one who has outdone Comrade Kislon when it came to preaching the gospel of disciplined cadres in PUDEMO. His commitment and loyalty to PUDEMO, to the struggle and Swaziland can never be equaled. You can ask any reporter or self respecting Swazi who has interacted with him, and he will attest to that. Comrade KP has led the movement as President before. However, when he was elected to serve in the position of Deputy Secretary General, his current position. He never ran away. He is my deputy, but he is my leader, and I have learnt a lot from him.
Comrade Mphandla Shongwe uncompromising nature.
A lot of people agree it is not right for one family to use 70% of the country’s resources and force the 98% of the people to share the remaining 30%. However, they are too scared to do anything. When people like comrade Mphandlana stand up and challenge the system, and do that uncompromisingly, they are then labeled names. There is nothing wrong with bringing mayhem and disorder against your enemy. The Royal family is the enemy of the people when it does what it does. If we make it difficult for the family to enjoy our resources, what is wrong with that?
Comrade Mphandlana is not unemployable. He is a qualified teacher, and if he had chose to, he could have emigrated like many intellectuals and skilled people who left the oppressive Swaziland for better opportunities in RSA and elsewhere.
SFTU hijacked PUDEMO
Then there must be something wrong with you Qalakaliboli. How can a labour movement hijack a political party? We helped resuscitate SFTU, and we have many members from the affiliate unions. We have always worked together where our programmes converged, and we will still do that in the future. SFTU needs PUDEMO as much as PUDEMO needs SFTU. If you had qualified your statement, I would have tried to help you understand the relationship we have with SFTU and many civic organizations. It is naïve on your side to say the labour movement used PUDEMO.
You had never seen a military wing of PUDEMO. When members of PUDEMO decide to form one you will not be told, but will know a true meaning of a military wing. For now there is no military wing because there is no need for one as yet.
King Sobhuza II and being honoured with the order of comrade Oliver Tambo.
PUDEMO respects the ANC and its decisions. As such we have sent a public statement to that effect. The ANC was not coerced into honouring King Sobhuza II. PUDEMO believes the ANC comrades sat down and took a conscious decision to honour the people it regarded as having played a role in the struggle. The name of King Sobhuza II happened to be amongst those and hence he was honoured. I am sure his children are happy with that. What does this honour mean to PUDEMO? The answer is simple it means nothing.
How do we remember King Sobhuza II
We remember that King Sobhuza II was called Mona. And until 1973 we did not know what that name meant, just like we can guess what Qalakaliboli meant. When he took our freedoms in 1973 by orchestrating the constitutional coup and took control of our lives, we knew what the name Mona meant. When I close my eyes I see a man who took my dignity away and gave my soul to his children. If you ask me whether I would have supported him given the honour, I would tell you that it would have been difficult. However, we must remember that this honour had nothing to do with how well he treated his own people or how well he espoused democracy in Swaziland. The honour was on his contribution to the struggle in RSA at some point in his life.
King Sobhuza II signed the 1982 Pretoria accord.
However, it must be remembered that he signed the Pretoria Accord with the Boers in 1982 before he died. This unholy political matrimony with the apartheid regime, contributed to the killing of MK cadres and Swazi nationals in Swaziland. It took the lives of such fine sons and daughters of the soil like Mildred Msomi, Tutu Nkwanyana, Keith Macfadden, Paul Dikeledi, Zweli Nyanda and many others.
Many despots have made contributions to struggles of other countries. Does that make them good people in the eyes of their people, the answer is no. But can they be honoured for such contributions; the answer is, the decision lies with those who received that donation. So it was within the prerogative of the ANC to honour Sobhuza II, and those South Africans who protested were using their democratic right to do so. Remember South Africa is a democracy, not a banana republic like Swaziland.
PUDEMO and votes
The people of Swaziland will decide who to vote for in a true democratic elections which will come someday soon. For now we cannot speculate. Would we miss your vote, certainly not. My father used to hate it whenever a player who does not train or who was undisciplined scored a goal because he said it was a bad example. It is the same with you; if people would know that you could vote for us they may think we have something that we share. They may think we are cowards like you. There is nothing further from the truths, we are no cowards, and hence we disclose our true identities. Not long ago you wrote in March or there about and gave your address as Mpaka. May be you have changed addresses, may be not.
PUDEMO is the future.
I once told my fellow countrymen in one of the late TV host, Knowledge Makhanya’s programmes that those people who wished PUDEMO and political parties away were just fooling themselves. I told everyone who was listening that PUDEMO would be around when the future of Swaziland is decided. I am happy that PUDEMO is here today and is making an impact such that people like Qalakaliboli are really scared because they are about to lose the selfish monopoly over our resources. I am also happy that a lot of people, even those from the conservative camp have realized that political parties are the way to go in Swaziland. I say bravo to Marwick and his Sibahle Sinje, Mfomfo and Inhlava, Absalom Dlamini and Lutfo and Imbokodvo. Welcome and let the game begin.
PUDEMO have made mistakes in the past. There have been incidents of indiscipline within some section of our movement, and there are things in our history, which we wish could not have happened. This has happened to every organization and groups. But, we are proud about the fact that we have acknowledged these in many forums. It is this admission that has helped us manage to do introspection and take action. We have grown over the years and have moved forward. One thing for sure, no one can take away our contribution in the liberation struggle for a free Swaziland. We have fought for every Swazi. We have fought for true freedom for both the oppressed and the oppressor.
I hope this has shed some light on the issues raised by Qalakaliboli when he was exercising his right to his beliefs, twisted as they are.
Yours in the struggle for a free Swaziland,
Bonginkosi Ignatius Dlamini