“Insika Yenkhululeko YeMaswati”
PEOPLE’S UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF REPRESENTATIVEOFFICE OF THE SECRETARY FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
P.O.BOX 8389, NELSPRUIT, 1200
PHONE 082 92 31 401.
FAX 013 778 9784.
THE PATH TO A PEACEFUL RESOLUTION OF THE POLITICAL IMPASSE IN SWAZILAND:
Since that chilly afternoon of the 13 July 1983, on the banks of the Umbuluzi river some 10kms north-east of Mbabane- hidden by the reeds and over-shadowed by the mighty beauty of the pre-historic Sibebe rock, where fine sons and daughters of the Swazi soil met and formed PUDEMO ; yes since that day PUDEMO has been ready to meet and negotiate the future of our country. We have been ready for the past 24 years for the peaceful resolution of the political impasse in Swaziland . What has changed is the urgency and impatience with which we lust for this noble objective and the now razor sharp clarity of our thoughts as to the processes that must be followed for the transfer of government to the people.
We are not interested in the delaying tactics, and in many useless summits. These have become a specialty for the royal family regime. The royal regime sent their emissaries to meet us when we were part of National Constituent Assembly (NCA) , but their servants had neither agenda nor terms of reference from their masters. From the word go, PUDEMO could see that this is a time wasting exercise. We were criticized by the other parties in the NCA , labeled as rebels and extremists , but at the end the truth was laid bare for all to see . The empty negotiations crumbled , the repressive brutality of the regime was stepped up . Whilst their political darlings Sibahle Sinje (meaning Swaziland is ok as it is) a pseudo-cultural group serving as a training ground for young political servants of the status-qou, had an uninterrupted relaunch of themselves as a political party, our SWAYOCO members were being brutalized by the royal police a spitting distance away from the Sibahle Sinje meeting. We are not interested in meeting the regime for drinking traditional marula (buganu) and cracking jokes like the Ngwane National Limbo Congress (NNLC) that says they will bring change from within. A thousand years of collaboration and soft reprimand will never change the regime. One cannot cross a river on the back of a crocodile.
Now the question that begs to be asked is…. Who shall champion the truth ?!Who shall marshal the agenda of democracy and champion the cause of the poor and downtrodden in Swaziland. No organization can crown itself as the flag bearer of the masses, only the masses can give such a status to an organization.
The only organization that has earned the title of “ the peoples leader” “the peoples vanguard” is none other than PUDEMO. Our historic document “the road map to a new and democratic Swaziland” remains the critical analyses of the political impasse in Swaziland. The road map is not a romantic fantasy, it remains the compass, thermometer and barometer of the path we shall beat as we march to seize power for the people and seek their mandate to govern.
Democracy is like beauty; all people, even ugly ones, want to be told that they are beautiful. If they are not told this, they create praise songs that describe themselves as being beautiful. They create illusions of beauty. Just like all regimes want to be associated with democracy, no matter how undemocratic they are!! Similarly, the royal family regime of Swaziland has become experts in the creation of illusions. These illusions can fool the politically young, the naïve, those who suffer from infantile political diseases like the political measles of tribalism, sexism and narrow nationalism and those who are just too eager to be fooled. As already mentioned:
- They create delaying tactics. It took the royal mafia regime almost ten years to create a constitution of just over a million of people in a country of just over 17000 square miles with the largest distance from border to border being under 200 kms. The royal constitution is riddled with contradictions. What it gives with the left-hand it takes away with the right–hand. The preparatory events to the constitution fail the test: It was not inclusive, it was not transparent, it was not participatory and it was not accountable. The constitution itself fails the eight point test; it does not guarantee
a. Multi-party democracy
b. Separation of the powers and systems of government
c. An independent judiciary
d. A legitimate bill of rights
e. Accountability and transparency
f. Regular free and fair electionsh.
g. Institutions protecting constitutional democracy
h. Fair and reasonable procedure for amendment
(adapted from OSISA)
2. The so-called negotiations that took place in the recent past were an outright mockery of those who yearn for freedom in our lifetime. Various sectors had called for negotiations and as predicted the government ignored them. (see narrative). When the event of border blockade was announced in April, for the 12th April again the regime accepted to negotiate. Predictable the pre-condition was a withdrawal of the border blockade. PUDEMO did not accept these pre-condition, but unfortunately other components of the NCA did- again mocking us as extremists. But that was just shallow and short-lived opportunism. April 12 blockades came and were a huge success. The fake negotiations were still born.
3. Other such illusions are those of an election; illusions of the rule of law; illusions of the separation of powers and illusions of pliability in the constitution.
B. THE WAY FORWARD-------- A PUDEMO DOCUMENT
1. The Preamble
2. The Preliminary negotiations
These are talks about talks. We are acutely aware to the growing divide and lack of trust amongst the protagonists. So we need a session for finding each other and allaying prejudices and natural fears, ( kutselelana emanti ). More importantly this is where we shall discuss how we shall carry on the business of negotiations. Most importantly this will be the moments where PUDEMO shall seek agreement on the Memorandum of Intent.
3.The Memorandum of Intent
The King must after the preliminary negotiations issue a statement to the nation called the Memorandum of Intent, that as of then, there exists a genuine desire to negotiate the future of our country. He is the person most suited to make this pronouncement, as he remains the single biggest impediment to the peaceful resolution of the political conflict in Swaziland. Inter-alia he shall announce the following:
- The unbanning of political parties. The truth is that political parties remain banned in Swaziland (see Hilary’s letter). Only conservative parties are allowed to operate albeit unofficially. Political parties were expressly banned in 1973 and therefore it stands only to reason if not anything else that they should be officially expressly unbanned. The International Bar Association on their critique to the current royal constitution further stressed this point.
- Create instruments for political parties to operate e.g. a registering office, a framework of registration regulations and possible financial resources for at least the major political players already in existence at the time.
- Pronounce on the unconditional return and indemnification of all political exiles.
- Make a specific pronouncement on the freedom of association as in section 25 of the royal constitution this freedom is deliberately vague and the onus of this freedom is placed on the royal police commissioner (see Hilary’s letter). The right to association, assembly and freedom of speech must be clearly re-pronounced. And that these freedoms shall be enjoyed without undue pressure and threat from the police save for the maintainance of legitimate politically neutral law and order.
- Depending on the character of the conflict at that stage, the MoI may include a ceasefire agreement.
- The MoI must of necessity be a legal document, agreed to by all parties especially the major adversaries PUDEMO and the royal mafia regime, and must have clear time frames for implementation of the next crucial step – the national convention.
4. The National Convention
A national convention shall be a forum where-in all political parties, political organizations, labour organizations, youth and women’s organizations, traditional institutions, NGO’s and other interest groups would come together to work out the details of the democratization process and lay down acceptable parameters on the modalities leading to a constituent assembly.
The national convention will constitute and form an interim government, based on proportional representation or some other democratic criteria. The position of the King will be in sharp focus here. The King has unwittingly (despite our age old warnings) allowed himself to be a player, referee, linesman, match official and sporting federation all at the same time in the political football of Swaziland. What will be his position then at this stage? Will he be part of a certain political party/ movement? What if this party losses the first democratic elections? It would be too late for him to take the position of impartial referee at this stage. It is my considered opinion that the King must at the stage of the interim government recluse himself and be led to a place of safety outside Swaziland and a caretaker head of state be appointed; probably an elder statesman of Southern Africa, an AU nominee or similar person of wisdom.
This interim government must be balanced and impartial, with clearly defined functions and limited powers and must ensure fairness without bias in favour of one group and most importantly secure the task of the constituent assembly. It shall have a term not exceeding two years.
An interim government will need an interim set of governance rules and regulations; an interim constitution. The royal expedition constitution of 2005 is a definite no-no. The King Sobhuza proclamation of 1973 will be already in the dustbin of history. I find the 1968 independence constitution also unacceptable, due to it’s many similarities to the current 2005 constitution, especially as it pertains to the powers of the King. Therefore it is my considered opinion that the national convention shall have to come up with an interim constitution, one that will satisfy the relevant parts of the eight point criteria.
4. The Constituent Assembly
Under the guidance of the interim government, a constituent assembly, will be formed and constituted. The constituent assembly would be a body elected by all the people, whose main responsibility is to draw up the new constitution for the democratic Swaziland.
We are at pains to ensure that the democratization process is itself democratic. Only a properly constituted constituent assembly will have the legitimate mandate to carry on the task of creating a new democratic dispensation. The electoral process of the constituent assembly will be defined at the national convention. This dispensation will be inclusive and include the monarchy, as the historic congress of PUDEMO of December 2006 articulated the movement’s desire for a constitutional monarchy.
Once the people of Swaziland have adopted a new constitution for Swaziland, the following will result:
- The dissolution of the constituent assembly.
- Elections for a democratic legislature, of the people, by the people and for the people in a multi party democracy.
- Repeal of all previous constitutions,proclamations, amendments and the like.
- The formation of a new government, filling the other arms of government i.e. the executive and the judiciary.
- The dissolution of the interim government.
Dr Sonke Dlamini