Extraordinary Congress of PUDEMO held 16-18 January 2009
“The People Must Be and Will Be Free!"
Concluding the second leg of our Extra-Ordinary Congress in Durban, we the delegates representing PUDEMO structures throughout Swaziland and the mass of our people in workplaces, rural areas, social and cultural centers, educational institutions, and every other space where our people are found, hereby fully accept the responsibility placed on our shoulders by the historic expectations and tasks arising from the political situation in our country.
We are gathered as freedom fighters and revolutionary militants responding to the emergencies imposed by the growing conditions of desperation, hopelessness, political suppression, hunger, extreme poverty and unemployment in our country. Our people want change now. They want a better life with improved material conditions. They no longer need promises and empathy but decisive action. They want a clear direction about the next step that we should, as an oppressed people, take towards eradicating the source of our collective misery.
We affirm the centrality of PUDEMO as a critical force for liberation in Swaziland, with the full responsibility to build, co-ordinate and support our people’s efforts towards their own liberation. It is with the fullest appreciation of this situation that we take seriously the tasks assigned to us by the situation in our country and our declared commitment to change the situation in the interest of the poor and oppressed masses of our country.
We also extend our warmest and most profound salutation to our President, Comrade Mario Masuku, the gallant son of the Swazi people, who is currently in a tinkhundla jail (Matsapha Central Prison) for his courage, inspiration and untiring determination to lead our people to their desired freedom. He is held on false and baseless charges of terrorism. Tinkhundla seeks to demonize him; destroy his spirit of determination and resilience; isolate him from the masses of our people who adore him and on whose behalf he has made all the sacrifices. The tinkhundla regime will fail dismally in their immoral efforts!
We recognize that in trying to destroy him by constantly jailing him, the tinkhundla regime has only served to reaffirm the fullest confidence of the people, and the international community, in Cde Mario Masuku; the Movement he leads and the nobility of the cause he stands for.
We also note that the levels of harassment, arrest, intimidation and victimization of PUDEMO members and activists have dramatically escalated in the recent past because the regime has engaged in a full-blown policy to suffocate dissenting political views in line with mandate given by the head of state to his current cabinet.
We take this opportunity to salute our fallen heroes, in particular, our Deputy President Dr Gabriel Mkhumane who was assassinated in cold blood and our devoted cadre, MJ Dlamini, who fell in the line of duty, as well as that outstanding internationalist, Jack Govender who died in the cause of other people. We also demand the immediate and unconditional release of our dear comrade Amos Mbedzi, who is languishing in tinkhundla jails and who has suffered severe torture for supporting the struggle of the Swazi people.
PUDEMO: The tested weapon of our people’s desire to build a new and democratic Swaziland
PUDEMO is synonymous with liberation. It has become a buzzword for change and an icon of the people’s aspirations in Swaziland. It is very clear to everyone that there is no genuine solution to the crisis in Swaziland outside engagement with PUDEMO and the mass democratic movement as a whole. Surely, for any lasting solution to emerge in Swaziland the people’s organizations must be involved and the people’s demands must be the determinant factor. This means the people must own and control the entire process of engagement.
PUDEMO emerged in the context of an extremely hostile political environment, characterized by demonizing propaganda, state brutality and even a corrupt moral fibre and economic setup that enriches only a few parasites at the expense of the poor majority of our people. PUDEMO had to contest tinkhundla hegemony and create space for a new democratic and progressive culture where respect for human rights and dignity are central. Through bitter struggles, PUDEMO has contributed in transforming the political landscape towards the realization of the goals set out in the People’s Manifesto.
We have come a long way, with difficulties, challenges, advances and setbacks. Certain tendencies in the very recent past point to the need for intensified induction of members, political education and cadreship development as part of an established culture in the movement. There is also a need for strengthening of a culture of discipline and high moral standards in our society through the exemplary conduct of PUDEMO cadres in struggle.
PUDEMO represents the most advanced, highly disciplined and unwaveringly dedicated members of society and this must be upheld as a yardstick for the renewal of our noble traditions and principles. PUDEMO members do all, everything, for the people and nothing against them!
This Extra-Ordinary Congress calls upon all cadres of PUDEMO, other Swazi patriots and democracy-loving people all over the world to heed one call: “a day more of tinkhundla suffering means more deaths from curable diseases, more hunger, more unemployment, more arrests and more royal extravagance and corruption."
Charting a New Path: Those who do not fight are voluntarily choosing to perish!
The Extra-Ordinary Congress conducted a mid-term review of our political programme since the last National Congress in 2006; also provided an opportunity to reflect on the state of PUDEMO and the urgent need to reposition our movement in order to decisively respond to the current political environment in our country. It also sought to put PUDEMO at the center of the people struggle to be free by acting to inspire confidence towards renewed momentum.
A five-point focus plan was adopted towards this end:
*We reaffirm our determination that the people will and must be free. In this instance, we noted that while major progress has been made in several areas and fronts of our struggle, a lot still remains to be done. Therefore, Congress calls upon the NEC to immediately consolidate the Road Map Operational Plan as adopted at Ermelo in 2007 to take forward the 2006 Congress directives even more decisively by convening a Special NGC session for that purpose. The plan should have clear targets, time frames and implementation strategy. It should take us to the next Congress, through mass action and rolling activism.
*In the wake of tinkhundla royal intensified terror, with the enactment of the Suppression of Terrorism Act as the epitome of that, which has resulted in the arrest of our President Cde Mario Masuku on false charges of terrorism, we once again, reaffirm our salutations to this gallant and heroic son of our people and freedom fighter. We pledge our unconditional support to him for his outstanding courage, bravery, visionary inspiration and leadership by example. He has vehemently refused to be cowed into submission by tinkhundla persecution.
In relation to the arrest of the People’s President, we hereby resolve:
1: To prioritize as a matter of urgency a well-coordinated and clearly articulated campaign for the unconditional release of our President Cde Mario Masuku. The NEC soonest possible must assemble a task team for this purpose.
2: To intensify the campaign against the draconian Suppression of Terrorism Act and all undemocratic laws in order to stimulate further the momentum towards multi-party democracy and freedom in Swaziland.
3: To carefully and cohesively integrate all four of our struggles into an effective, efficient and mutually reinforcing and well-coordinated strategy, with all pillars equally and fully at work in a manner that ensures they fully complement each other. Towards that end, we reaffirm the existence of fully active structures both above and below surface which must be strengthened and capacitated to meet the challenges of the new era much more effectively and in a sustainable manner.
*We recognize SWAYOCO as an autonomous body within PUDEMO, which requires that we ensure at all times and in the best interests of our struggle, we provide all the necessary support and prudent guidance to our youth movement with honesty and firmness but without compromising its autonomy and space to critically engage issues. Therefore, in our pursuit of the highest standards of democratic organisation, constitutional supremacy and organizational discipline built on our historic traditions, policies and revolutionary imperatives, we hereby welcome and adopt the report presented to Congress on the events at the recent SWAYOCO Extra ordinary Congress and the steps taken to resolve them, which culminated in the NGC decision to reinstate the democratically elected NEC of SWAYOCO. We further call upon the NEC to develop a clear and concrete action plan to assist SWAYOCO deepen its organizational capacity and strength in the face of the growing challenges; urgency of unity and organizational cohesion, so that the main focus remain the real enemy of our people, the tinkhundla savage system.
*The need for a bold, decisive and urgent effort to strengthen the Swazi solidarity movement all over the world to reposition the global momentum and profile of the Swazi struggle as well as upgrade its scale given the latest developments in the country. This requires a profoundly improved capacity for PUDEMO to coordinate all these efforts and activities. PUDEMO must always make decisive interventions to protect and advance the good image of the Swazi people’s struggle and that of the movement as a critical force at the helm of that very noble cause.
“if yesterday belonged to tinkhundla oppression, surely, tomorrow belongs to the people. This means, today…..we must begin our journey…..to a new democratic Swaziland based on the aspirations of the people.” Road Map Programme of PUDEMO (2006).
PUDEMO must continue to prove in the battlefield that it is the true leader of the people and that it is at the center of a political solution to our country’s deepening crisis. Never again shall this giant of the people’s struggle be ignored. The challenge remains for all PUDEMO cadres to increase the momentum through high moral standards, humility and honest leadership in struggle.
We also wish to convey fraternal greetings to all people struggling for democracy and justice across the globe. We continue to call for peace, justice and democracy for all and support all efforts towards that end. It is in our interest to live in a peaceful world, but there can be no peace without justice. Therefore, we are all required to struggle for justice.