MATSULU DECLARATION OF PUDEMO
Road Map to a new and democratic Swaziland
As adopted at the PUDEMO 6th General Congress – Matsulu Conference Center, Mpumalanga, 19-24 December 2006
Our journey towards a new and democratic Swaziland has been and continues to be one of pain and sacrifice on the one hand and joy and fulfillment on the other. As we proceed along this road, we have and continue to persevere against one the most vicious, primitive and barbaric political systems in history.
Swaziland is bleeding from years of plunder and parasitism resulting from a system of organized royal rule characterized as semi-feudal and neo-colonial. This system is structured to serve the narrow interests of a royal elite and their friends. Tinkhundla is based on parasitic methods of wealth accumulation hence it’s fundamentally rooted in the most ruthless, highly exploitative and corrupt forms of social organization.
PUDEMO was formed in 1983 as a political home for all people committed to fundamental social change in the interest of the poor and oppressed majority in our country. It has consistently championed the broad interests of the overwhelming majority of the people of Swaziland. This has earned PUDEMO the task of political leadership of the Swazi struggle, working with all forces committed to change whatever their orientation and understanding of change.
PUDEMO remains committed to the Swazi struggle through fully representing the aspirations of the people and working always to unite the Swazi people around an alternative program for fundamental social change. The program is anchored in the following key principles:
Swaziland is facing a political crisis and only a genuine all-inclusive political process can form the basis for a lasting solution.
The Tinkhundla system cannot be reformed, but needs to be fundamentally transformed.
The fundamental uprooting of Tinkhundla’s cancerous corruption that has destroyed the moral fibre of our society.
The building of a vibrant society in which people actively participate in shaping their own destiny and take responsibility for running their affairs.
The transformation of economic land ownership patterns in order to enhance the redistribution of the country’s wealth and provide for balanced development in the country and eliminate the conditions that reproduce poverty, inequalities and desperation.
The right of the people and their fundamental responsibility to remain vigilant through their organized power and constantly use mass action, must be protected and promoted at all times.
The future of Swaziland is in the hands of the Swazi people themselves. They are the true custodians of the promise for a better life and only them can jealously defend the country as it plunges into ruin orchestrated by the royal elite.
The all-round crisis facing the Tinkhundla system forces it to continuously attempt symbolic reforms as part of its window-dressing exercises. PUDEMO asserts that this system cannot be reformed but should be fundamentally transformed. The Royal Constitution is part of the system’s reform package. Full of flaws right from the beginning, this constitution continues to bounce from one crisis to another bringing more confusion to the people including its own architects. The Royal constitution brings freedom and power to the ruling elite and their friends whilst it spells immense oppression for the masses. It is a political calamity of untold proportions.
The people of Swaziland and indeed the rest of the world look up to PUDEMO to lead the masses out of this crisis to their long cherished freedom. The people are tired of the increasing poverty levels; high unemployment; increasing numbers of people dependent on food aid; lack of drugs and medicines in health care facilities; high HIV/AIDS infection rates; corruption, etc.
PUDEMO is under no illusion that the extent to which this crisis can be resolved relies on the levels of organization and mobilization of the masses and the intensity of struggles these masses can wage on a sustained basis. Therefore, we reaffirm our Piet Retief Declaration that PUDEMO must give serious attention to the organization and mobilization organized workers, the unemployed, women, the youth and students and pay special attention to the rural masses.
The Rural Masses and Land
We must devise suitable organizational and mechanisms to reach out to the rural masses and provide them with the organizational and political tools to defend themselves and to assert their inalienable right to land.
We understand that land is a very powerful political tool used by royal supremacists to entrench their strangle hold on power through the use of chiefs and local tindvunas who intimidate the people with eviction from time to time. We reaffirm that the land belongs to the people and that land is the primary source of livelihood for them. Therefore we recommit ourselves to the “Land Back to the People Campaign.” We acknowledge the further interrogate our implementation strategy regarding this campaign in order to make it a tangible reality.
The Education Crisis
Our country’s education system is in shambles and needs a complete overhaul. Education is used a propaganda weapon and instrument of royal control and hegemony in the battle to win the hearts and minds of our people to accept royal rule as divine and inevitable.
The transformation of our education system must involve ensuring that principles of democratic practice form the core of the new curriculum in order to instill the values of respect, equality and human solidarity. Our schools must allow democratic representation of all stakeholders in governing bodies so that everyone can actively participate in determining their own destiny.
PUDEMO therefore, declares that we shall assist in forming a National Education Crisis Committee (NECC) to coordinate and lead a national progressive response to the crisis in country’s institutions from primary to tertiary level.
Health and HIV/AIDS
We must mobilize the people to demand quality health from all health care facilities around the country. Our people must not die due to the man-made crisis of drug shortages, unbearably long queues, qualified staff shortages, etc. The people must be organized and rallied around a “Health and Treatment Rights Campaign’ led by our cadres from local to national level. This campaign must also respond to the HIV/AIDS disaster that is ravaging our people with impunity.
We reaffirm our Sikhawini Declaration, which stated that “while HIV/AIDS can affect anybody, it hits the poor hardest. This requires that the fight against the pandemic is a central element of the struggle against poverty and its root causes. It should be part of the struggle to make basic health services, clean water, good nutrition and sanitation accessible to fight against opportunistic diseases and related causes.”
The task of liberating women is central to our struggle as they are the worst victims of the Tinkhundla rule. They are victims of patriarchal domination by men, are underpaid by brief case investors, are abused in the family situation, are generally poorer than men, etc. There are more women at the low levels of income than men. That is why the struggle for democracy must, as a matter of necessity is also a struggle to transform gender relations in our country.
Youth and Students
The young people of our country have been anointed by history to shoulder the task of actively engaging in radical and militant struggles against the Tinkhundla regime. Young people and students have a task in building a new and democratic Swaziland because of their relatively unlimited political energy and rebellion.
We call upon all young people and students to organize themselves and advance the struggle as we march forward on the road to a new and democratic Swaziland. The youth can stop the dehumanization of the elderly and the poor by the ruling clique who take joy at mocking them on a daily basis. The youth carry the hopes of a nation yearning to be free and to restore its dignity amongst other nations in the 21st century.
Workers in the era of Globalization
The global economy is undergoing serious neo-liberal restructuring, which has deepened poverty in our country through high levels of unemployment, retrenchments, outsourcing of jobs, casualization and the general erosion of minimum labour standards. Globalization and privatization have also resulted in expensive and unaffordable services to our people. This has fuelled the skyrocketing crime rate and violence against vulnerable members of society such as women and children.
Not only have workers rights been eroded but also the numbers of unionisable workers have drastically diminished. The power of organized workers has decreased. This has a direct negative impact on the liberation movement and its capacity to engage the Tinkhundla regime in militant struggles on a consistent basis. New and advanced methods of struggle are required to counter the devastating effects of globalization on workers who are a key motive force. It is a matter of must for PUDEMO cadres to actively organize unorganized workers and strengthen organized workers as part of our daily work.
Huge divisions arising out of undemocratic practices and ideological misdirection, characterize the Swazi labour movement. PUDEMO must work tirelessly to provide a platform for unity of these forces in order to strengthen the workers movement and hence the liberation struggle.
The increasing levels of poverty have also resulted in the mushrooming of numerous social movements in the country. We must strengthen progressive ones and ensure to constantly provide leadership and direction to these.
Smart Sanctions Campaign
PUDEMO has adopted the smart sanctions campaign against the ruling clique and the friends as well as their business and social interests abroad. This campaign requires increased and sustainable mass struggles inside Swaziland in order for it to succeed. We pledge to rise to the challenge as we march towards our freedom.
The levels of support given to the struggling people of Swaziland by many individuals, organizations and institutions across the globe inspire us. In this regard, we make special mention of the progressive movement in the Republic of South Africa i.e., COSATU, SACP, ANC, ANC-YL, YCL, SASCO and COSAS as well as other progressive organizations in the republic.
We are also indebted to our friends in the Scandinavian Countries whose contributions have been invaluable. These levels of solidarity keep our spirits high even under the most depressing conditions. We salute the work done by the Swaziland Solidarity Network in coordinating most of the solidarity effort.
On the other hand, we pledge our solidarity to all other struggling peoples of the world. We call for a speedy resolution of the crisis in Darfur, Zimbabwe, Western Sahara, Palestine, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan and an end to the American embargo on Cuba, etc.
The 6th General Congress of PUDEMO has ended. It was held outside our country not because we like but because it is a crime in our country to exercise fundamental rights and freedoms. This 6th Congress is dedicated as a Christmas present to our leader, the People’s President Comrade Mario Masuku who is recovering in hospital. His recovery is testimony to the resilience of the human spirit to free itself from all forms oppression, physical and otherwise.
As 2008 draws nearer, PUDEMO is reminded of the historic significance of this date in Swaziland’s political calendar:
2008 marks 35 years of the 1973 King’s Proclamation which banned political activity and declared freedom a crime;
It marks 25 years since the introduction of the Tinkhundla system of governance which has brought untold suffering, underdevelopment and poverty to our people;
2008 will mark 25 years since the birth of the liberation giant, PUDEMO. This is 25 years of unbroken militant struggles against dictatorship;
In 2008 PUDEMO will have decisively shifted the balance of forces in favour of the struggling masses and the transformation agenda must be firmly in our hands at that time.
We declare to the people of Swaziland and the entire world that PUDEMO shall relentlessly strive, side by side with all freedom-loving compatriots and friends, to bring an end to the political crisis in our country as well as the suffering of our people.