I can hear the roars of thunder in the streets of Swaziland as the masses proclaim…The day of liberation!
PUDEMO President – Cde Mario Masuku
Political Report to the Annual Conference of PUDEMO
28 June – 2nd July, 2006
Table of contents:
- History is on the side of the poor and oppressed
- From spontaneous mass resistance to sustained liberation struggle
- The world we live in today and prospects for a democratic victory in Swaziland
- Political tasks of the movement
- The future belongs to the people
Cde Chairperson of the session,
Members of the National Executive Committee,
International friends and allies,
Representatives of fraternal organizations,
In the Political Report we submitted to the Piet Retief Annual Conference of PUDEMO, we said, “In any struggle it is important to recognize the critical moment, the time when decisive action can propel the struggle into a new phase………………..and when the moment of revolution arrives, only a political organization which has been with the people through all their earlier experiences can hope to command their support”.
Indeed, we gather today at this important and Special session in the life of our movement, not out of tradition or being used to it, but fundamentally because we have work to do. We are entrusted by the mass of the poor and oppressed people of Swaziland with the historic duty of destroying the system of tinkhundla royal rule and in its place, creating a new and truly democratic Swaziland.
We are not here to lament about the extent of tinkhundla brutality, neither are we here to make rhetoric about what are the problems we face, but we are here to plot how best to intensify the on-going offensive and accordingly make the necessary changes to our programme regarding the prosecution of our political tasks on the ground.
As we gather today, we wish to pay tribute to all our comrades who happened to pass on during the period between now and the Piet Retief Conference, in particular we pay special tribute to the gallant fighter, revolutionary and firm cadre of our movement; Dumsani Shosholoza Khoza.
We also acknowledge the heroic sacrifices that our member make daily in the trenches of struggle in and outside the country, as they face jail, exile and daily persecution by the forces of tinkhundla royal tyranny. We salute the firmness and boldness that has forced the enemy to accept that change is inevitable in Swaziland.
The Piet Retief Conference of PUDEMO clearly stated what are the concrete tasks of the movement at this phase;
·Building PUDEMO’s political capacity to lead the masses
·Mass mobilisation and deepening a culture of democracy in our society as a whole
·Clear programme for Gender equality and the transformation of land ownership patterns as central elements of social transformation and fundamental change
·Development through the radical growth and redistribution of the economy
·International solidarity for democracy in Swaziland, sovereign development in Africa and justice in global governance.
Therefore, we are here to evaluate how far have we remained true to our own commitments. We must certainly differ from the tinkhundla system not only in terms of our superior political vision, but also our style of operation and honesty to our cause. We make declarations and must live by them, otherwise, this Conference must not even begin, if its one of those usual gatherings and social clubs we can think of.
In seeking to do so, we are inspired and guided by the following key documents of the movement, whose basic outline of our political vision and what should be done to realise it, is correct and clear;
·The People’s manifesto
·PUDEMO Strategy and tactics
·The Sikhawini 5th General Congress Declaration and the subsequent Programme of action
·The Piet Retief Declaration and Resolutions
As well as other such important documents of the movement generally;
·The Ermelo Declaration
·The Mzinti Conference resolutions
·Manzini Conference resolutions
·SWAYOCO and Women’s league documents, resolutions and programmes, particularly the historic 5-year Strategic Plan of SWAYOCO
It is exactly 5 years now since our last Congress at Sikhawini in 2001, and we have a task to clarify whether we have, in concrete terms, made progress since then or not. When we do so, we dare not romanticize issues, but engage them critically so that we can be able to clarify the truth behind the real state of PUDEMO today.
History is on the side of the poor and oppressed
The struggle for social justice, equality and democracy is a struggle for the fundamental change of society, because in the way society is organized today, such noble values cannot be realized.
Therefore, this realization is the very basis of our struggle for a society free from the shackles of royal monopoly and tinkhundla semi-feudal crisis.
The history of every society is but a means to change the ownership of the means of production and the wealth of society in general, it is a struggle rooted in the need to destroy all elements of injustice and structural inequality built and sustained by the system of parasitic rule.
History has proven that every struggle is rooted in the core foundations of class struggle, the real roots of all exploitation and suffering. In this sense, every struggle is a struggle by the poor and oppressed against the oppressive minority of parasites.
In the specific context of Swaziland, the royal minority, who are the puppets of international capital have always used narrow tribal ideology (culture being the manifestation of that) to whip up emotions of reactionary patriotism and breed values of passivity and active compliance with the interests of the ruling royalist minority.
The exploitation of the majority of workers, the rampant abuse of women, the legalized abuse of children and the youth, the brutal exploitation of the rural landless majority and the general subjection of the people to the reign of royal terror is all in the name of Swazi culture.
This is why we must contest and win the battle of ideas in the public space. We must do all and everything in our power to push back the frontiers of tinkhundla backwardness by exposing the political bankruptcy of the system. In this sense, we can boldly claim that history is on the side of the poor, because they are the ultimate victors in the struggle for human dignity, whatever the odds at the moment.
We must never allow a few parasites to opportunistically define what is Swazi culture and what our identity should be as Swazis. We are first and foremost, human beings and aspire to the highest ideals of the human race, the most civilized and progressive traditions that humanity as a whole has so far been able to develop and the most supreme values governing human relations. In this sense, our uniqueness is not about a detour from these basic values, but fundamentally their affirmation in context.
From spontaneous mass resistance to sustained liberation struggle
From humble beginnings in 1983, PUDEMO has risen to be a giant of stature in the political arena of Swaziland. It has become accepted as an important element of any serious and lasting political solution to the problems of our country. In this sense, we can confidently affirm that what we seek to resolve here these few days is of significance far beyond the walls of this building.
It is awaited with keen interest by the whole Swazi society, and of course, the international community.
PUDEMO organized and built a network of underground structures of mass resistance to open space for public debate and struggle. In doing so, the movement sought to deepen a culture of vibrant engagement, but more than that, to deepen a culture of resistance and rebellion against royal exploitation in all its forms. This is why we can boldly and proudly claim that we are now getting into a new era of a sustained liberation movement in Swaziland.
The era we have just emerged from is that of a society in rebellion against oppression, but we must now turn that rebellion into active struggle and a conscious movement for democracy. We must turn the massive anger into political energy through a sustained programme of liberation. This was well articulated by our historic programme of PUDEMO, The last Mile to freedom.
In building a sustained liberation movement of the people we need to learn from the past experiences of the mass resistance movement, which could not turn the massive anger into political energy against the tinkhundla system. Lets turn the struggle against landlessness into political energy, lets turn the massive anger against poor wages and working conditions into political energy, lets turn the massive anger against the abuse of women and children, the HIV/AIDS genocide, the poverty crisis and collapsing state institutions into political energy and deal the tinkhundla regime a serious blow.
We can only announce the political funeral of the tinkhundla system if we are able to develop a comprehensive programme that clarifies our intentions in the short-term, medium term and long term. We must know what we seek to do now, what we seek to do next year and what we seek to do in the next ten years. In this way we can claim with confidence that we are capturing the imaginations of poor, hopeless and desperate masses. They would begin to believe that they are not vesting their energies in the wrong vehicle. PUDEMO must not only prove itself, but demonstrate its determination to be an alternative to the dying and crisis-prone tinkhundla system.
This means we must establish an infrastructure that is equal to the task of making a decisive blow to the forces of tinkhundla tyranny. The Piet Retief Resolutions of the movement are quite explicit about what should be done in this regard, particularly as regards the following core areas of our work;
- Political work
- Organisational work
- Financial work
- International work
Balance of forces in Swaziland
The state of forces in Swaziland as regards the actual balance of relations between the enemy forces and progressive forces is an important element of our work, hence the need for regular evaluation to assist us position the movement and the forces of revolution in general, in a proper position. In our Political Report to Congress, we shall deal with these at length, but for now, there is a Comrade who shall deal with the actual balance of forces.
In this regard, the following forces are critical;
- Trade unions
- Youth and students
- NGOs, professional bodies and Social movements
- Churches and religious organizations
- Rural and landless masses
Then on the other hand are the;
- The institution of the monarchy and the royal family as a whole
- The state of capital or business in general
- The security forces; military, police and intelligence forces
- Ideological apparatus of the regime
It is important that we properly understand these and how they affect or determine the pace of our struggle, as well as what should be done. These must be understood in the context of an on-going class struggle and the forces contesting hegemony in our society.
This also applies to the issue of the constitution which shall be under serious scrutiny in this Conference. But we must clarify one thing about it, our main concern is not whether the constitution is legitimate or not, but it is what is the impact of the recent developments in the country for our struggle. We are fighting a political struggle and not a constitutional struggle, which means we need a political solution, in which case the constitution shall be an element and not the be-it-all of our struggle.
We stand firm in our position in the midst of intimidation and cowardice, we affirm our position and wayfoward that says the constitution should be a product of a democratic process and only then can PUDEMO actively participate in it. We however, remain committed to genuine dialogue and not royal imposition or political circus.
The world we live in today and prospects for a democratic victory in Swaziland
At the beginning of this century and during colonial times, western countries saw their colonies in Africa, Asia and Latin America as sources of raw materials and cheap labour, for industry in the mother country. They used the colonies to generate wealth on terms of trade beneficial to the industrialised countries, which laid the basis for the perpetual unequal relations.
Factors that accounted for the deepening of the unequal relations, inter alia are, particularly the third world debt;
·Crisis in the world economy which could only be bailed out through a transfer of loans to the crumbling poor countries, as well as to bail out the economies of western countries themselves which were undergoing deep-seated structural crisis in their profitability indices. In this sense, loans sought to stimulate the market in the north and set the economic ball rolling;
·OPEC profitability which was invested in western commercial banks that became too loaded with money and decided to plan for a loaning system to developing countries, as a means to service their systems;
·Arms became a key part of the external debt, which was in the interest of western profitability and part of the arms race, so central to the cold war conflict
The crisis and dilemma of Africa’s development prompted the development of the Lagos Plan of action in 1979, which was heavily criticised by the World Bank as not giving enough room for private sector participation, not emphasising enough on the need for reforms in the public sector and being too ambitious in its projections on what Africa could achieve in terms of industrial growth .
The world bank therefore went ahead to set up its own assessment of the possibilities to jump start African economies and in accordance with its mandate as the forebearer of capital’s interests throughout the world. It appointed Professor Elliot Berg as the leader of the commission, which came up with a two-pronged solution to the problems;
·Rolling back the state from involvement in the economy through privatisation; and,
·Opening up the economy to more private sector participation and the rule of the market through liberalisation.
In this regard, this is the background to the imposition of Structural adjustments programmes (SAPs) defined as IMF economic policies imposed by western creditors whose ultimate purpose is;
·To generate hard currency to repay debts; and,
·To open up developing country markets to foreign imports.
These cannot be achieved unless a country is so indebted that it can be forced to open up its foreign capital and trade markets. The way to get a country to open up is to offer loans or bail-outs and then apply conditions. Western creditors cannot intervene unless a country becomes indebted. Then the IMF is sent in to put adjustments policies in place.
The conditions tied to SAPs in general impose;
·Higher interest rates
·Cuts in public expenditure, including cuts in health, education and social welfare budgets
·Currency devaluation, making exports cheaper and imports more expensive
·Limiting state interference, which means the removal of state subsidies, such as on basic foodstuffs
·Privatising state industries and agencies, such as transport, agricultural co-operatives, hospitals, schools, etc
·Increasing exports, such as plantation cash crops instead of subsistence food crops.
·Encouraging international investment, such as the establishment of export-processing zones, allowing profit repatriation, limiting the power of unions and other organised mass organs, promoting the unlimited rule of transnational companies, etc.
This is the era we characterize as neo-liberal globalisation. This means all the tragedies of privatization, massive retrenchments, unemployment, cut backs in education and health can only be explained in relation to the dominant system of heightened capital accumulation, particularly driven by and favouring rich elites in the north and their junior counterparts in developing countries.
The Swazi case as an example of Africa’s corrupt elitism
A cousin company to Britain’s defence export services organisation (DESO) is BESO, which is the British Executive Services Overseas, which specializes in cushioning the economic and other interests of the corrupt political elites of certain countries all over the world in line with the fundamental interests of British capitalism, through these puppet elites.
This is the same company that has over the years run the strategic and commercial interests of king Mswati. All the Swazi money he acquires through robbing the Swazi people and invest it in Crown Agents in England, is a classical example of how the systematic looting of Africa’s wealth and its transfer to Europe is being perpetuated.
Certainly the rich and powerful are benefiting from this official looting and historic plunder, hence its interest in maintaining not only undemocratic systems, but also the very corrupt elites, aside their public relations stunts about their much proclaimed commitment to democracy and human rights in Africa, a very convenient political posture indeed.
There is no doubt that a further illustration of this classical example would also indicate that, the primary reason why Swaziland survived for so long as an undemocratic country was due to the fact that the British military intelligence (M16) and its whole security establishment, took full responsibility for protecting the political and economic interests of the Swazi monarchy, since the days of king Sobhuza 11 and worked actively to frustrate all efforts towards a genuine democratic dispensation by the forces of progress in the country.
Maintaining in power the puppet royal regime of Swaziland is in the interests of British imperialism. The role of Tibiyo and Tisuka are to oil the wheels of imperialist accumulation to ensure the effective participation of the royal aristocracy in the process of global capital accumulation and exploitation of the world’s poor majority.
This is what explains the double standards applied by Britain, particularly in dealing with Swaziland as opposed to how they are dealing with Zimbabwe.
Britain has been the most vocal opponent of smart sanctions being applied against Mswati’s regime in the European Union, yet the foremost proponent of the same for Zimbabwe, purportedly for the reason of human rights and democracy, what a shame on a neo-colonial bully!
In the context of all these forces at play and the political architecture globally, we need a proper response and that response must take full advantage of the global balance of forces, whilst exercising extreme caution with regard to the dangers posed by these at all times.
It is in the context of the above that we take this opportunity to salute the work of our international friends and structures, key amongst them are the South African tripartite alliance components, our European counterparts in Denmark and Netherlands in particular, our newly established Canadian structure of the Swaziland Solidarity Network and its main body, the South Africa based Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), our international offices in Australia, and South Africa, all of them have done us proud. Without their active and consistent support, we would not be where we are today. We dare not let down their contributions, but demonstrate renewed commitment to the cause.
The recent and highly successful border blockade which was organised jointly with COSATU by the Swaziland Solidarity Network confirmed the practical will by our comrades in South Africa to really make practical the commitment to solidarity with the oppressed people of Swaziland.
Political tasks of the movement –
Towards the renewal of the political giant of the Swazi people to reclaim its rightful place as the leader of their struggle
In 2003, immediately after the Piet Retief Conference, we adopted an Organisational Renewal Strategy called, Imvuselelelo Plan. It was a coherent plan to renew and strengthen PUDEMO through building a very vibrant and dynamic organisation guided by clear and advanced political perspectives.
However, we have not been able, as yet to make the plan work or at least, there has been half-commitment from many of us to this plan, for various reasons and this Conference must affirm the urgency of that plan, otherwise we shall lament forever.
Let us remind each other about what that plan sought to do and what is required of us now. This strategy sought to address the following core issues and tasks of our movement;
·The task of implementing PUDEMO programmes and resolutions on the ground
·The task of linking theory and policies of the organisation with the day-to-day experiences in the concrete realities we face in our daily political practice in our communities and work
·The task of mobilising into active participation, all cadres of PUDEMO to become fully involved in the work of building PUDEMO and advancing the whole struggle on a daily basis
·The task of proper co-ordination, cohesion and organised planning for maximum impact and clear understanding amongst all structures of the movement and all the people of Swaziland.
The tasks ahead – How much work needs to be done on the ground?
The following areas have been identified as critical to our work;
·Recruitment and induction of new cadres
·Political education, leadership development and building mass political consciousness
·Effective information dissemination and popular agitation for mass action
·Active participation in the raging struggles of the masses on the ground, as well as in all social structures; trade unions for worker’s rights, community organisations for basic services, church struggles for moral renewal and social justice, rural masses for land, students for free education, women for human dignity and gender equality, etc.
·Building a strong and visible PUDEMO on the ground, actively leading community struggles and mobilising the people for consistent mass action, which includes building a strong SWAYOCO and Women’s league.
The movement has problems which have gone beyond being internal matters, but they are now public matters. Some of these most pressing problems include;
*Weak or none existent structures and campaigns, particularly in regions and branches as they are there in name or individuals;
*Poor communication within our own structures, first, and with the mass of the people, generally.
*Poor co-ordination and coherence by higher structures, particularly the NEC and regions which are key power centres in the political language of PUDEMO;
*Weak cadreship in terms of; theoretical clarity and understanding of key issues, as well as in terms of frontline militancy and active participation and leadership in the daily struggles of these masses
*Poor profiling of PUDEMO leadership, which makes the masses have less confidence in the movement itself, because people should associate the movement with a particular symbol of resistance and hope.
*Inability of PUDEMO to correctly take up and rally the masses around issues of daily concern to them and their lives, such that we are walking parallel to the struggles of these masses, though we claim to lead them.
Therefore, if we are serious about reclaiming our historical position as the leader of these masses, the above picture must be removed immediately. We must work tirelessly to change the outlook and political posture of the movement to reflect seriousness, urgency and undying commitment, underpinned by unity of purpose and superior methods of organisation in actual struggles.
The idea behind the Plan
Organising PUDEMO into a superior political force guided by advanced political theory and sophisticated methods of organisation on the ground is the real motive behind this plan. It requires the following qualities, in order to succeed;
*Willingness on the part of all members and leaders of PUDEMO to admit that the situation within the movement has reached a serious situation;
*The luxury of casualty is not in the interest of the movement and the suffering masses, hence urgency must be the driving force behind this plan and the whole effort to renew PUDEMO;
*As leaders at all levels, including regions, branches and leagues, we must not be defensive, but upfront about our weaknesses and failures so that we can begin the process of correcting them and improving our work;
*We must allow for honest debates and reflection amongst ourselves, our allies and general structures of our society;
*Frank and vigorous political debates must form the central part of our organisational culture, which requires that we encourage it and not stifle it as has been the culture in some of our structures, particularly in regions where forums for discussions have not been so pronounced;
*Sacrifice is the only guarantee for victory in any revolution, which therefore requires that cadres stop lamenting, but put all their energies at the disposal of the struggle and work for these masses tirelessly. We cannot have both worlds of comfort and normality living side by side with political struggle, because struggle by its very being presupposes sacrifice and abnormality in one’s way of life;
*Finally, We must identify and uproot all elements that hinder progress and frustrate this plan, which is about the future of our movement and the people it represents. We must be upfront about the need for this plan to succeed at all costs.
PUDEMO has two choices; fail in positioning itself properly and regret forever or timeously make a difference and reposition itself properly and remain relevant for years to come.
We all agree that 20 years is a lengthy period for any movement not to have undergone any serious process of renewal, because the conditions change daily and require that we reorganise our machinery on a constant basis to adapt to the ever changing circumstances on the ground as imposed by the scientific reality of the terrain.
What kind of PUDEMO can be considered organised and ready to lead the people of Swaziland into the promised land;
*Fully functional structures; holding regular meetings, reporting constantly to members, carrying out tasks efficiently, uniting the people, etc;
*All cadres fully mobilised and in action. The attitude of people who are militants only in conferences or in social gatherings, without daily active participation in political work is failing the movement and must be defeated;
*All structures carrying out political work amongst the masses and organising popular campaigns around issues affecting the poor in their communities;
*Political education, propaganda work and building strong regions and branches is central to the future of PUDEMO and must be carried out daily by every member of PUDEMO;
*Guaranteeing the full and effective participation of women, disabled people, rural poor, youth, workers and all elements of the marginalised community of our country, in the daily affairs of PUDEMO
*Clear documents, internalised and fully understood by the whole membership, so as to spread PUDEMO hegemony throughout all sectors of our society is a condition for victory;
*Leadership guided by the motto; first in commitment, first in sacrifice and first in discipline at all levels; NEC, RECs and BECs;
NB: Regions shall also be expected to hold their own renewal exercises once this exercise has been completed, to take down the process until it reach the lowest level of PUDEMO organisation, The same shall be expected of the leagues; SWAYOCO & the WL
The future belongs to the people
The future of our struggle, not least of our own glorious movement, PUDEMO, is what we make of it. We are called upon to demonstrate a particular level of determination and seriousness in this effort of seeking to make PUDEMO the real leader of our people in terms of its; superior ideological and theoretical clarity, as well as organisational methods on the ground. The future is in our hands.
 Lagos Plan of Action