Monday, November 24, 2008

Strangling the King's opponents: Swaziland's "war on terrorism"

Statement from PUDEMO Regional Office
(Australia, Asia and the South East Pacific Region)
Date: November 24, 2008

Strangling the King's opponents: Swaziland's "war on terrorism"

When King Mswati III addressed the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2008, the emphasis of his speech was on the threat of terrorism. His speech was a carbon copy of what is now an outdated political discourse that dominated global politics in the turn of the 21st century. Out of touch with the shift in global politics, he sounded hollow when he called upon the world to unite and fight terrorism. World unity was achieved in 2001 but discourses about the threat of terrorism have receded from the centre stage of global politics. The recent 63rd Session of the UN General Assembly and the presidential election in the United States of America are examples of this shift in global politics. Whilst world leaders focused their attention on the global financial crisis and climate change, King Mswati III looked like a yesterday man. Nobody paid attention to him and he returned home a disillusioned, embarrassed and a frustrated man.

Rejected as a yesterday man and a hopeless actor in the global political theatre, King Mswati III returned to home ground to vent his anger and frustration on Swazi citizens. Shortly after the United Nations General Assembly, he summoned the nation to his royal residence for what local and international media widely described as a historical event in which the ruling monarch declared war on Swazi and South African citizens. He accused Swazis and South Africans of engaging in acts of terrorism against Swaziland. The rage in his tone and use of sadistic words such as abakhanywe (strangle them) generated a deep sense of fear and anxiety in many people. It caused significant concern that a new wave of political repression will soon follow.

From the speech, it was clear that strangling the King's political opponents was to become the mainstay of government policy. For the King, there is no one more capable of turning this desire into practical action than his most trusted henchman, Sibusiso Dlamini, a member of the King's advisory body. In disregard of his own laws enshrined in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland Act, 2005, King Mswati III appointed Dlamini the new Prime Minister in charge of government business and the police force. The Constitution states that the Prime Minister must be appointed from members of the House of Assembly. Sibusiso Dlamini was not a member of the House at the time of his appointment. His appointment was, therefore, unconstitutional. Dlamini's immediate responsibility was that of forming a war cabinet to strangle what the King described "enemies of peace".

There were no doubts in many people's minds that members of the pro-democracy movement in Swaziland and the South Africa-based Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) are the obvious targets of this rage and war mongering. In the past few weeks SSN, PUDEMO and its youth wing, the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) have featured predominantly in media reports and official statements about recent sabotage attempts against public road infrastructure. However, no concrete evidence has yet been produced to link these organisations to these activities. Furthermore, the police have not been able to confidently declare that these are indeed acts of terrorism carried out by identifiable organisations for political, social, religious or economic reasons. Thus talks about the presence of a terrorist threat are empty rhetoric and speculation with no substance. Such talks are, at best, acts of political indulgence.

If the government fuels speculation about the threat of terrorism, it streams into public fear. This is good news for King Mswati III and his government. It makes governing relatively easy because a fearful population is more susceptible to social control than a fearless population. The ultimate goal of this government is to reclaim the power to rule absolutely by retransforming the nation into docile bodies paralysed by fear. One of PUDEMO's great achievements has been the empowerment of the Swazi population to be less fearful of state power and to openly demand political change. As the population of fearless citizens grew bigger, the state's power-base has been gradually diminished. Swazis have long known that there is rottenness in the state of Swaziland but gradually people have been more able to proclaim this loudly rather than in fearful whispers. As a consequence, the regime is scrambling to regain control, a scenario reminiscent of the late King Sobhuza II's response to the resurgence of pro-democracy politics in the early 1970s.

In all aspects, King Mswati III's declaration of war resonates with King Sobhuza II's Proclamation to the Nation in 1973 in which he proscribed opposition political parties. Although supporters of the regime would like us to believe that the enactment of the 2005 Constitution eclipsed the Proclamation, it is indubitable that the principles which underpin this Proclamation remain a major influence in government thinking. All the key aspects of the Proclamation – political fear, hatred and intolerance of political dissent, constitutional vandalism and dictatorship – are evident in the current political development.

The proclamation placed dictatorship at the centre of governance. Today, dictatorship remains the cornerstone of the monarchy-led government. Under this system, those capable of furthering this most abhorrent form of political repression are appointed to public office. Thus, the choice of Sibusiso Dlamini is not surprising, given King Mswati III's emphasis on a form of governance based on strangulation rather than peaceful political engagement. In his capacity as Prime Minister from the late 1990s to early 2000s, Dlamini acquired a shocking reputation as a heartless and ruthless political operator. From 2001 to 2003, he was famous for senseless spending on royal luxuries, interference in the administration of justice, media censorship and engaging in political witch-hunts against state critics. He also presided over spectacular examples of government incompetence, such as the disastrous failure to reign in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Sibusiso Dlamini has the ability of a typical ruthless dictator to act swiftly against state opponents and sluggishly on issues of national development.

In 2002, PUDEMO warned that the Sibusiso-led government resembled a steamroller driven by a drunk and that it was capable of causing harm to the nation. At the time, PUDEMO was responding to the government's decision to close down two print media organisations, The Nation and the Swazi Observer, because it didn't like what they published. Despite local and international condemnation against the closure of these media organisations, the steamroller was allowed to continue on its way, causing widespread havoc. It brought Swaziland into the realms of failed statehood by crushing flat one of the most vital institutions of government, the judiciary. On November 28, 2002 Dlamini shocked the nation and international community when he publicly declared that his Majesty's Government would disobey the Court of Appeal judgements in Gwebu and Bhembe v. Rex and Minister of Home Affairs et al. v. Fakudze et al. According to Dlamini, the rulings sought to strip His Majesty King Mswati III of powers accorded to Swazi Kings since "time immemorial". No judge, Mr Dlamini declared, could question the King's decision or challenge his power. An avalanche of local and international condemnation was brought to bear on the regime. King Mswati III recapitulated and removed Dlamini from office. Many Swazis were hopeful that the drunk would be institutionalised in a detoxication centre for good. But alas, that was not to be. The drunk is back behind the wheel of the steamroller looking more intoxicated than he was in his previous term of office. He is back to kill and pillage national resources with impunity.

King Mswati III and his chosen henchman, Sibusiso Dlamini, are hoping to use the yesteryear strategy, "war on terrorism", to wage a proxy war against the pro-democracy movement. In 2008, The Suppression of Terrorism Act was enacted as a vehicle to waging this war. The Act gives authorities such as the Prime Minister unlimited powers to proscribe political organisations and wage a vicious witch-hunt against their membership. Immediately after his appointment as Prime Minister, Dlamini proscribed a number of political organisations including PUDEMO as "terrorist entities".

Globally, the effectiveness of this strategy to retain unpopular government in office has long receded. In the turn of the 21st century, citizens of various nation states were cajoled into believing that terrorist attacks were imminent and that the state was acting in their interests when it suspended basic rights and freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism. Threats of terrorism, as described by state officials and the media, began to infuse a deep sense of fear, anxiety and insecurity among citizens and fellow travellers. Through advanced technology, acts of "terrorism" were brought into people's living rooms. In most cases, images of terrorism were accompanied by harsh official statements to hunt down "terrorists", "sympathisers", "acquaintances" and "supporters" of terrorism.

As nation states became increasingly relentless in their pursuit of "terrorists", they acquired greater presence in people's private lives. Consequently, a state of paralysis emerged among populations of various nation states gripped with fear of "terrorism" and fear of the state. People were fearful of the ever looming terrorist attack and that their political views could be construed by the state as rendering support to terrorism. In the "war on terrorism", over zealous states transformed into terrorist entities causing fear, insecurity and enormous harm to the people they claimed to protect. In many instances, nation states with reputable records of democratic rule used the "war on terrorism" to shred away civil liberties. Kidnapping, arrest, rendition, eavesdropping, persecution and detention without trial were common tools of the "war on terrorism". Indeed, the turn of the 21st century was an era of great fear and strong statehood.

Whilst in some countries, particularly democratic nations, the "war on terrorism" introduced political conditions unfamiliar to many people, the majority of Swazis were born into conditions of fear and repression. These conditions, unbearable as they are, have enabled many in Swaziland, particularly those in the pro-democracy movement, to build a strong culture of resilience. PUDEMO leader, Mario Masuku, is a living example of this culture of resilience. Since the formation of PUDEMO more than 20 years ago, he has been in the forefront of the struggle for democracy and has endured the brutality of King Mswati III and his predecessors. He was the first to be arrested under the new terrorism laws. On November 15, 2008, Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini ordered the police to arrest Masuku on charges of terrorism. Masuku is accused of providing support to "terrorism" following his response to reports about attempts to bomb bridges.

In our view, the charges preferred against Masuku are part of the government's long-term strategy to persecute PUDEMO members. Masuku did not render support to terrorism as alleged by the police. What he said was what all responsible Swazis would have said. He called upon the government to reflect on why these bombing incidents were occurring. In his view, these incidents were an indication that some people in the community have reached the end of their tether and the time had come for the government to reconsider its position on the question of democracy. He implored the government to open talks with the pro-democracy movement to chart a way to a future political dispensation. This is not a statement of support for terrorism but a genuine and forward-looking gesture of goodwill from a man who has committed his life to build a democratic system of governance in Swaziland. A week after Masuku's arrest, the Catholic Church Bishop, Ncamiso Ndlovu expressed similar sentiments and condemned the terrorism laws, the proscription of pro-democracy organisations and the incarceration of Masuku (see, November 21, 2008 report). It remains to be seen if the government will now arrest Bishop Ndlovu and charge him with supporting terrorism.

Masuku has endured frequent arrests and detention because of his political views. However, the determination of the regime to break his spirit has failed to yield results. Instead, it has strengthened his resolve to soldier on and fight for his people. It is against this background that when Sibusiso Dlamini proscribed the pro-democracy movement, Masuku was resolute that we will fight on and we will exercise our rights as members of the global community to disobey unjust laws.

The regime may arrest, incarcerate and strangle our members to death but they will never kill our spirit and our movement. PUDEMO has deep roots in the community as a people's political party. It is not a terrorist organisation. PUDEMO has not killed or threatened to kill anyone, caused or attempted to cause fear among the Swazi population and it has not, in its history, threatened to use force to overthrow the government. PUDEMO is, however, committed to the overthrow of the dictatorship monarchy regime through peaceful political processes. This is the core principle of our movement.

Various PUDEMO leaders have repeatedly stated that the movement will not be drawn into a military confrontation on terms defined by the regime. It is well known that the government has, on numerous occasions, engaged in activities akin to spoiling for a war. We refused to be party to this and we will continue to do so. It is, therefore, ludicrous to declare PUDEMO a terrorist organisation. Similarly, it is preposterous to arrest and charge PUDEMO leader, Mario Masuku, with acts of terrorism. Masuku has never handled a firearm or explosives, threatened anyone with violence, contemplated to wage a war or supported acts of terrorism.

PUDEMO calls upon the people of Swaziland to stay strong and not allow the government to push them back to the 1970s and 1980s. People should disobey the terrorism laws and continue to publicly declare their support and membership to the movement for democracy without fear.

The declaration of the "war on terrorism" must be seen as none other than a stunt designed to rejuvenate the culture of political fear in Swaziland. It is important that people understand that this war is part of the government's long-standing agenda to liquidate the pro-democracy movement and to use fear as a political resource. It is not about fighting terrorism because there are no terrorists to fight in Swaziland - just pro-democracy activists demanding a democratic system of governance and respect for basic rights and freedoms.

In a remarkable admission, the Prime Minister told diplomats that there are no terrorists in Swaziland yet but maintains that there are terrorist organisations (see Times of Swaziland, November 22, 2008). This statement does not make sense. It is like saying there are no soldiers in Swaziland but there is an army. If the Prime Minster believes that there are no terrorists in Swaziland, he must reverse the government's decision and release the PUDEMO leader from prison. The Prime Minister and his government need to revise their understanding of terrorism, particularly the fundamental question of what makes a person a terrorist. Does a person becomes a terrorist merely because of his/her membership of an organisation that has been officially classified a terrorist entity? Or can an individual become a terrorist, independent of his/her association with an organisation, if he/she engages in the activities outlined in the Suppression of Terrorism Act? The people of Swaziland demand answers to these questions.

Dr. Jabulane Matsebula
PUDEMO Representative
Australia, Asia and the South Pacific Region

Wednesday, November 19, 2008



We the people have learnt with great shock that the country's specific premier has decided to implement the 'Khama Mandate' in his star month, November so bluntly to the effect of banning the People's Movement and its Youth League.

Desperate means of a system that has started eating itself up.

We the people were formed in 1983, during an error when all political parties in the country were banned, save for the Imbokodvo National Movement (INM) under the draconian law or instrument for that matter, called the 1973 Proclamation. The people's movement was formed for a specific purpose, that of fighting for and defending a constitutional multi-party democracy in this very same land of the Swazis.

Our members have been oppressed, harassed, detained, tortured to the effect of jumping out of their father land and to death, shot at, injured and even killed all by the forces of oppression as instructed by the regime wielding its unlimited powers, much to the disregard of the rule of law .

Swaziland is part of the global village and that being the case, she can not come up with laws that are going to oppress citizens of this country which we all belong to, whether we agree with the status quo or others have a dissenting view on the question of governance. We the people, have a manifesto which is internationally acceptable since it clearly shows that power belongs to the people and not individuals, and it is therefore not befitting for the Prime Minister of Swaziland, under the instruction of King Mswati 111 to cunningly come up with a legislation that is aimed at throwing our country, the beloved Swaziland, into disarray and fear.

Swaziland is a member and signatory to almost all the international conventions, which does not leave out African Union and SADC, in which His Majesty is Head of Troika organ on Politics, Peace and Security. Surprising enough, the person who is supposed to be advocating for peace has literally and out-rightly declared war on the citizens of the country. Such an act is un-acceptable and shall never be even in the next millennium to come.

Swaziland's system of governance has always been exploitative from time immemorial, before and after 1973 and 2008 with its Suppression of Terrorism Act.

AU Charter:

Swaziland was amongst the first 17 African States to sign the convention and has been doing so in many many other conventions, and the other African States are fooled to think that Swaziland is a pace setter but little did they know that Swaziland is the number one violator of these conventions that she becomes the first to sign as a symbol of commitment.

This Charter declares one fundamental concept, that all other African States shall not recognize any government that has assumed state power illegitimately and this was signed in 2007. The AU Charterist made one grave mistake, not revamping and removing all those governments that usurped powers from the people, such governments as King Mswati 111's government which so did by repealing the 1968 Constitution and replace it with then 1973 Proclamation first and latter with the 2005 Constitution that was not people driven and was a second edition of the Decree.

PUDEMO and all its organs are and shall be terrorist organisations, but the people's movement is a multi-class organisation that has a biass for the poor and the working class. It fights for democracy in its totality as displayed by the tenets and or basic principles. No one single class of society shall dictate its own so called unique democracy. We the people refuse to accept there is such a thing called unique democracy, but we declare to the world that in Swaziland there is more crisis over and above that of Zimbabwe because in this Africa's only remaining kingdom, there is no democracy at all, and no political space.

AU therefore must remove King Mswati's government from power, or rather refuse to recognise it because it is illegitimately in power, no matter how new the Charter is, more so because the regime is refusing democratic transformations that should totally overhaul the system and replace it with one that shall have the interest of the majority of the country, and these are 70% populace that do not even understand politics and have no interest on where state power lies, yet they are the primary victims of this heartless government that brandishes man and women of substance as terrorists.

SADC Protocol on democratic Free and Fair Elections:

This protocol is just and extension of the AU Charter many more international conventions and we the people, are disgraced that SADC Leaders sit around the table and be convened by the likes of the king of Swaziland who does not understand the simple called meaningful dialogue. Banning organisations that are freedom fighters and brandishing them specified entities and terrorists for that matter and then come up with harsh laws that are aimed at silencing our members and leaders shall not solve our problems as a country but shall lead to the most undesirable consequences which have been seen in many African Countries. PUDEMO calls upon SADC to seek the truth and the truth set set Africa free and Africa shall be free indeed.

This Act is just another version of the 60 days detention and has been specifically put into force solely to silence PUDEMO's ideology so that the minority class continues to waste state resources, privatise state owned entrepreneurs, breed corruption, disregard of the rule of law, victimise workers, make unlawful arrests, randomly search homesteads and in the process plant subversive literature, condone impunity, the list is endless.


We the people condemn the arrest of cde Mario Masuku with strongest terms possible based on the following:

To the simplest Swazi out there:

What is the national question?

Who is the real terrorist?

Why is it that for the past 40 years the socio-economic problems get worse each parliamentary term?

Why is it that every Prime Minister is deemed having failed during his tenure, even the current one who has been recycled for a specific mandate?

Why do we have recycled leadership?

Why did we have almost all the members of the CDC as Senators in last parliament which then adopted the Swazi Constitution was not people driven.




Issued by the office of the SECRETARY GENERAL


Contact: +268 608 9783

Tuesday, November 18, 2008



18th November 2008

On the Arrest of PUDEMO President Cde. Mario Masuku on 15th November 2008 and on the re banning of PUDEMO and its leagues

The PUDEMO External Region Membership condemn with disgust the arrest of the Peoples President Cde. Mario Masuku on the 15th November 2008 and calls for his immediate release. It is our firm belief that this is a desperate attempt by a terrified regime which is hearing the loudly echoing and approaching marching sounds of freedom approaching in the nearest horizon and the loud calls of the People of Swaziland shouting "Enough is Enough we demand our democracy now "

The Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEM0) and all its leagues and strategic partners is not intimidated nor fazed by the recent pronouncements by the thick head chief gate keeper Sibusiso Dlamini who parades as a prime minister and his family affair run injustice system run by a family coalition of the royal page bow majahenkaba Dlamini masquerading as the attorney general and his emotionally charged and law illiterate wife mumcy dlamini who has forever been acting ( due to her incompetence) as the royal director of public persecution. Their intimidatory wailing of more arrests of the Movement's Cadres does not faze us since the Peoples President declared, we shall fight on!

We call upon all disciplined Cadres of our Movement to stand firm and never denounce their membership in PUDEMO and all its leagues.

We further call upon the Swazi people not to be deceived by the royal regime by branding our Movement and its members as terrorists as we are only fighting for our democracitic right to self rule and determination. Who is / are the real terrorist(s).............. ?

1. Mswati . He terrorised the nation and declared war on a defenceless unarmed Swazi nation in his family cattle kraal way back in the 80s' when he branded Civil Servants as "......people who are SNAACKs (DISGUSTING!!!) while they engaged on a strike action demanding better conditions of service,

2. In the mid 90s' at his family's' cattle kraal he terrorised the people when he declared war by telling "emabutfo" to be "ready for war" against Swazi workers who had engaged on strike action for better working conditions and an alternative political climate in Swaziland.

3. Most recently he terrorised by declaring war on proponents of democratic change, their families, friends, associates the list is endless. By extension had declared war against the whole nation as we are a tightly knit and related nation.

4. Deliberately and by design he allows the Swazi people to be ravaged by poverty, starvation, HIV & AIDS, underdevelopment while he loots millions of Swazi money to deposit in personal bank accounts in the east oversees.

5. He takes his wives on a R45million shopping spree oversees with the costs borne by the struggling Swazi people, which continues unabated waste Swazi money on his lavish life style and birthdays annually .

6. He continues to enjoy a three months holiday overseas every end of year spending millions of dollars, while he "tries to fool" the Swazi nation to believing he is in seclusion. On return from holiday continues to bewitch the Swazi nation with his family's ritual called incwala. Let the Church and true Man and Women of the living God condemn this.

This behaviour has to be brought to an end now, mswati is only "king" through the people as he tries to eliminate and subdue the nation through strategic poverty and disease affliction , the nation must collectively stand up and fight for its survival. Let the people of Swaziland remember that no one is immune from this madness.

Lastly, we call upon Regional Bodies like the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) to proactively swiftly address through constituting a dialogue process to avert the political situation from boiling over.

Issued by PUDEMO external region

For more information contact

Vusi Shongwe- PUDEMO EXTERNAL Regional Secretary

072 717 1225