The People’s United Democratic Movement’s (PUDEMO) End of Year Statement
PUDEMO wishes to extend revolutionary and the warmest greetings to the fellow people of Swaziland and the peace and democracy loving citizens of the world. As we enter the year 2009, we are saying let us endure the pain and suffering together and travel this last mile to a new and democratic Swaziland . We call upon all of our structures within and outside the country to stand up to the task ahead and fulfil the revolutionary strategic objective of PUDEMO.
As we make a cross-over to the New Year, we are ware that tinkhundla has continued to force its misrule, characterised by oppression and exploitation, to the people of our country. We are aware of the fact that tens of thousands of half-naked and desperate children are on the streets and have deliberately been rejected by tinkhundla regime. The people’s movement is also aware of the reality that there are no drugs in hospitals owing to the dilapidating health care system that has been produced by this regime – our people are dying! We are as well cognizant of the incontrovertible fact that there are hundreds of thousands of poverty-stricken citizens who are without such basics as food and clean water, particularly in the remote area. We are further aware of the continuous exploitation of workers and the treating of Swazis as subjects and not citizens in their own land. Also, we do not forget that a majority of Swazis do not own land and that many are still victims of the regime’s senseless land evictions. The only message we can pass to our suffering people is that the Tinkhundla Empire is crumbling and that before you know it, the system will have been destroyed and replaced with a people driven system.
The year 2008 has not been smooth for our mass-based democratic movement. What with the brutal and barbaric assassination of our deputy president Dr. Gabriel Thandokuhle Mkhumane who was shot dead at KaNyamazane in the republic of South Africa where he was living as an exile. As PUDEMO, we still maintain that the senseless killing of this gallant servant of the Swazi people was political and that the truth shall be revealed in future.
There are many cadres who have died in our movement and whose blood shall water the tree of liberation. We pledge ourselves to lift up the spear and continue the noble fight. A majority of our comrades have continuously been threatened and terrorised by state police while some have been forced into exile. Be that as it may, all these have strengthened our glorious movement and have given it more power to soldier on. In fact, today we are stronger than yesterday.
Sadly, we had entered the year 2008 with many police brutality instances and we say one day the people of Swaziland shall be defended. The police declared war as they assaulted UNISWA students who were demanding their right to quality education. Textile workers were also assaulted by state police as they were engaged in a legal strike action. In both the students and the textile workers’ struggles, the police used live bullets to shoot peaceful citizens of the land! We repeat that one day the people shall be defended and we do not intent to threaten anyone when we say that.
The police also attacked members of the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF), including its leaders, during a border blockade activity that was meant at raising the international awareness on the Swazi struggle for democracy. A group of peaceful PUDEMO members, including its leaders, were severely beaten and detained by tinkhundla police during a PUDEMO day rally in Manzini in July. Swayoco and PUDEMO members, including the people’s president, were subjected to the same treatment during a march that was organised by our youth league recently. The march had been allowed by the city council of Mbabane and the police but was stopped by the police on the actual day. It was intended to demand from the prime minister the resumption of the treason trial with which many of our members were charged and are out on bail. The continuous assault on political activists by police confirms what PUDEMO has been saying over the years; that the security forces are for the ruling elite and not the ordinary people of Swaziland and that they are used to harass the advocates of democracy in our country. However, more than the hatred of the pain to which we are subjected to on daily basis is our hatred of the conditions to which our people are subjected to throughout this country. We want to liberate all our people and we shall achieve this by all means necessary.
PUDEMO is not taken by surprise on the sudden banning of the people’s vanguard for the second time. Also, we are equally not surprised by the new suppression of terrorism Act and the incarceration of the people’s president Cde Mario Masuku. Such things are bound to happen in a country that is a dictatorship. We take comfort from history since such have happened to almost all liberation movements the world over. On the incarceration of our leader, we want to warn the regime by overemphasizing what we have just said; that we shall do all that is in our power to defend our
leaders, organization and the people of our country against everything that threatens the Swaziland Democratic Revolution (SDR). Only time will tell.
The regime also defied warning from progressives and the international community and went on to host the luxurious 40/40 double celebrations and thereby squandering millions of the tax payers’ money. Again here, this confirmed what PUDEMO has been saying over the years; that we are waging a struggle against an autocratic regime that has got a high appetite for leisure. The ordinary Swazi never benefited anything from those so called celebrations.
Of fundamental note is that the regime continues to ignore international conventions on democratic, free and fair elections as it held its circus called national elections even in the year 2008. Swaziland is a signatory to a plethora of international conventions on democratic elections. These are, inter alia, International Convention on Political and Civil Rights, the Mauritius Declaration, the Cotonou Agreement and the Harare Declaration of 1991, where Common Wealth countries agreed that totalitarianism was giving way to democracy and freedom. We call upon respectful signatories to the above stated conventions to put pressure on tinkhundla to democratize as we enter 2009.The Common Wealth expert team encapsulated all when they openly stated their disregard of the credibility of the 2008 Swaziland National Elections. This was their position even in the year 2003 as they reported, “We do not regard the credibility of these national elections as an issue. No elections can be credible when they are for a parliament that does not have power and when political parties remain banned.”
PUDEMO maintains its long standing position that the zillions of problems engulfing Swaziland shall only be solved when a genuine dialogue has been called and a legitimate government is in place. We therefore demand a Constitutional Multiparty Democracy Now.
Essentially, the political and civic organizations of our beloved nation are united and this was evidenced by their coming together into the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF). The people’s vanguard party hails the labour movement for celebrating 2008’s May Day together for the first time after so many years. As we do that, we reiterate our old principle of ‘One industry one Union , one country one federation’. This barbaric and backward system of Tinkhundla shall only be dismantled by a more united progressive force. The 2008 September 3-4 Mass Stay away was a clear indication that our unity can overcome the brutal power of this cruel dictatorship. We need to redouble our effort in 2009 as we march forward to a democratic Swaziland . PUDEMO urges all the forces under the banner of the united front to seize this opportunity since to relax our effort now will be a great mistake which generations to come will fail to forgive. Let us consolidate and advance.
On the international front, our struggle has intensified and our international allies have practically offered solidarity with the Swazi struggle as led by our glorious movement. We are particularly indebted to our South African allies in the tripartite alliance. They are to us what sunlight is to plants and we say only history shall reward them. We urge the international community to intensify its campaign against the Tinkhundla inhuman regime in the year 2009. We have got no hesitation in saying that the people of Swaziland have got no future under the current political set up.
The People’s United Democratic Movement has one demand as we enter then year 2009: Talks about talks that will culminate into a genuine dialogue exercise involving all national stakeholders to discuss a way forward on the politics of our country.
It is our genuine view as PUDEMO that only such an exercise can lead to a people’s constitution and democratic government. The only historic route that can be taken by the ruling class this year is dialogue and not war.
We have seen how the latter has failed in other African countries as it only results in bloodshed and unnecessary loss of lives. Our most treasured nation can not afford to take this dangerous route hence the need for dialogue as soon as possible. This is the very position that we took as early as 1992 in our document entitled, “THE PEOPLE’S WAY FORWARD DOCUMENT; TOWARDS A CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY THROUGH A NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT.” We want to emphasize that we see genuine dialogue as the only possible remedy for our ailing nation.
We are in solidarity with the suffering people of Zimbabwe and we call upon the SADC and AU to take a decisive action and protect the people of that land from the quagmire they are currently in. Our movement further appeals to the international bodies, in particular the UN to intervene and save the people of Palestine . Nothing can justify the raping of young innocent children and women as well as the mass killing of peaceful civilians.
BY CDE SPHASHA DLAMINI