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PUDEMO

The ticking time bomb of Swaziland

South Africa's ANC President Jacob Zuma gives Swaziland tyrant Mswati III the red-carpet treatment.

For more on Swaziland, click HERE.

By Terry Bell, Cape Town

April 19, 2015 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), campaigning groups and labour-supporting members of the European parliament this month launched protests about the continued harassment and jailing of trade unionists and democracy campaigners in Swaziland. ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow has noted that, in Swaziland, “Violations against the fundamental rights of workers have become systemic.”

But apart from a few verbal sallies from non-governmental groups, there has been silence from South Africa. And this should be deeply worrying to those who are concerned about deepening democracy on the continent and in ensuring that a wealthy, often corrupt — if not entirely melanin deficient — elite do not continue to dominate.

Defend Swaziland unions! Free Mario Masuku!

Mario Masuku, jailed president of the People's United Democratic Movement.

For more on Swaziland, click HERE.

By Patrick Craven

March 17, 2015 -- Congress of South African Trade Unions, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Congress of South African Trade Unions strongly condemns recent violent attacks by Swaziland police on trade union meetings and sends a message of solidarity and support to the Swazi workers struggling for democracy and the right to organise in free and independent trade unions.

On March 14, 2015, King Mswati’s police broke up a meeting of the executive board of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), and injured a union leader who was taking part. According to TUCOSWA leaders and the Swazi Observer, more than 300 plainclothed police forced participants to end the meeting in the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Centre and blocked the gates to the building. TUCOSWA has reported that Muzi Mhlanga, SNAT secretary general, was assaulted and had to seek medical care.

Swaziland: (Updated May 6) More arrests as monarchy targets democracy activists

For more on Swaziland, click HERE.

Update, May 6, 2014: The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) is pleased to hear that the seven PUDEMO members who were arrested for wearing PUDEMO t-shirts have been released on E15,000 bail each. It is unfortunate, however that the president of the organisation, Mario Masuku and student activist and secretary general of the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), Maxwell Dlamini, were denied bail.

Maxwell and Masuku have both been charged with four counts of terrorism. On the first count, they are charged with contravening Section 11 (1)(a) of the Suppression of Terrorism Act No.3 of 2008. On the second charge they contravened Section 11 (1)(b) of the same Act. It is alleged that they unlawfully solicited support for and or gave support to a terrorist entity, PUDEMO. The state, as usual, is opposing their bail application on the grounds that they are a flight risks, this despite the fact that they have been admitted to bail in two other trials and never fled the country.

This indicates that the state simply wishes to see them behind bars for as long as possible, knowing that this will be punishment enough as it would take the case years before it comes before a judge who will most likely dismiss it. We wish to condemn this behavior by the Swazi authorities and demand the immediate release of the two political figures all political prisoner.

Swaziland: COSATU condemns arrest of PUDEMO secretary general

People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) general secretary Mlungisi Makhanya in jail for wearing his party's T-shirt.

For more on Swaziland, click HERE.

Statement by the Congress of South African Trade Unions

April 25, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- King Mswati’s jails are littered with well-meaning men and women of conscience, those who have refused to be cowed into submission by royal terror.

The recent arrest of the secretary general of the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Mlungisi Makhanya, and seven other members of PUDEMO and Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) is testimony to the reality of a country that has become a big national prison against its own people.

PUDEMO leaders were jailed for defying the Suppression of Terrorism Act and its predecessor, the 1973 decree that criminalises all forms of political activity and imprisons the rights of the people.

The crime of wearing the wrong colours, PUDEMO paraphernalia is a serious one under Swazi law as designed by the tinkhundla system, hence the legalised murder of Sipho Jele a few years back for wearing these banned colours.

Swaziland: South Africa's high commissioner rejects democratic transformation

The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) is banned and its leaders were arrested and prevented from celebrating Workers' Day (May 1) this year.

For more on Swaziland's democracy movement, click HERE.

Joint statement

May 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When the new South African High Commissioner to Swaziland, His Excellency Happy Mahlangu, presented his credentials to King Mswati, the Swazi Observer on May 3 reported him as saying:

I further wish to make use of this opportunity to express South Africa's best wishes to Your Majesty and the people of Swaziland for success during the forthcoming elections. I also want to assure you of South Africa's support regarding the Swaziland elections.

To make matters worse, here is what "His Excellency" had to say in the May 13 Swazi Times:

Swaziland: Liberation movement proposes path to democracy

By Skhumbuzo Phakat, PUDEMO secretary general

November 15, 2011 -- The only solution to the current crisis is a transition to democratic governance. The financial crisis, judicial crisis, education crisis, health crisis and the entire deep-seated structural crisis the Swazi regime is under can only be solved by democratisation.

The time has come for King Mswati to swallow his pride and succumb to the demands of the people. The king must unban political parties as a matter of urgency, to pave way for a democratic dispensation. A genuine political dialogue must begin that involves all political parties and other major stake holders. The problems in Swaziland are political and require a political solution.

The People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) believes that a genuine political dialogue process must be preceded by the unbanning of political parties, release of all political prisoners, return of all exiles. We reaffirm our profound conviction that real solutions to the challenges facing our country will come from a peaceful, genuine negotiation process based on real and effective participation by the people.

Democracy is not the preserve of a selected few; it is by its very nature a process guided by the principles of freedom, co-determination and shared responsibility. Essentially, therefore, we must engage all the various interests in our country in a process that will sufficiently address the political, economic and socio-cultural dynamics at play in Swaziland.

Eyewitness Swaziland: The birth of ‘Liberation Friday!’; 'The struggle for a democratic Swaziland continues'

By the Swaziland Democracy Campaign

September 10, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Friday,  September 9, marked the last day in the second Global Week of Action on Swaziland, culminating in a large protest march in Mbabane that resulted in pitched battles between a heavily armed and aggressive security detachment, and mostly poor workers, students and the unemployed, who gathered legally and peacefully as they have done all week.

On September 5 and 6 (Monday and Tuesday) only minor skirmishes took place, and the security services were restrained and largely non-provocative. This is as it should be. The marches were legal, and the organisers made it clear that they wanted to exercise the few rights that they have.

There have been more than 20 protests across the world, and seven inside South Africa. These took place outside of the various offices of the Reserve Bank of South Africa in order to draw attention to the ill-advised bailout of R2.4 billion that is being offered to the Swazi regime through the Reserve Bank, "facilitated" by the South African African National Congress (ANC) government. The protests were also about the need for solidarity with the democratic forces inside Swaziland.

Swaziland liberation movement leader: 'Build an unstoppable tsunami for freedom!'

Mario Masuku, president of the People's United Democratic Movement.

By Mario Masuku, president of the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) of Swaziland

September 9, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Over the past few days, the mass of the people of Swaziland: workers, students, women, rural and landless masses, churches and other faith-based organisations, social movements, NGOs and the rest of civil society networks have confronted the tinkhundla system on a scale unheard of before.

This week alone has seen an unprecedented 30,000-40,000 people fill the streets of our country to demand freedom. This must be the beginning of intensified action. As we regroup and organise for April next year and the third global week of protest in September 2012, let us mobilise even more. Let us build the profile of the global week to reach an unprecedented 100 cities around the world. Let our allies across the world build more chapters of the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC) to intensify the global offensive.

Swaziland: Thousands defy monarchy in second global week of protest


On September 6, 2011, the king's portrait is burned during a pro-democracy demonstration in Swaziland's biggest town, Manzini.

By Mike Marqusee

September 7, 2011 -- Red Pepper, via MikeMarqusee.com -- The second Global Week of Action in Swaziland, organised by the Swaziland Democracy Campaign, which concludes September 9, has already scored remarkable successes amid terrible sacrifices. The week marks a new highpoint in the ongoing confrontation between an absolute monarchy that for decades has plundered the country and an increasingly emboldened democracy movement.

Events kicked off on September 5 with a mass demonstration through the heart of the capital city, Mbabane. One of the COSATU delegates who joined the protest reported: “The streets of Mbabane have been occupied by a range of different people, including workers, students, the legal profession, community and church activists, and all marching in unison and toyi-toying for freedom. They are united in one purpose, to challenge the continuing rule of Africa’s last absolute monarchy. There is an almost carnival atmosphere in the air!”

South Africa: ANC government shuts door on Swaziland democracy movement

King Mswati III: sitting pretty after ANC "bail out".

August 5, 2011 -- South Africa's African National Congress government has defied supporters of democracy in Swaziland and granted the repressive absolute monarchy a five-year, R2.4 billion loan. The bailout, which was announceded by King Mswati III on August 3, has been condemned by the Swazi democracy movement and its supporters in South Africa. While its conditions do not require democratic reforms, the Swazi people will be subject to harsh austerity in order for the regime to repay the loan.

* * *

August 4, 2011 -- The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) is calling upon the South African government to stop dilly dallying at a time when it has a genuine opportunity to exert pressure on Swazi authorities to stop human rights abuses and end the Tinkhundla dictatorship.

Communist Party of Swaziland launched

For an end to poverty and oppression

Kick out the monarchy, kick out capitalism

For working class power and socialism in Swaziland

Statement of the central committee of the Communist Party of Swaziland on the occasion of its inaugural conference, KaMhlushwa, South Africa, April 9-10, 2011

April 10, 2011 -- Swazi men and women from inside Swaziland and in exile convened in Kamhlushwa, close to the Swazi border, over the weekend of April 9-10 for the inaugural conference of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS).

The formation of the CPS comes at a decisive point in the freedom struggle in Swaziland. Time is running out for the Mswati regime, which is directly responsible for the impoverishment, low life expectancy and heavy exploitation of the majority of Swazi people.

Swaziland: (Updated April 15) Monarchy cracks down on pro-democracy protests

Swazi regime’s 'victory' is a pyrrhic one

By Peter Kenworthy

(Earlier reports and statements below.)

April 14, 2011 -- Pambazuka News -- Swaziland’s minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Lutfo Dlamini, called the brutally crushed peaceful protest or uprising against Swaziland’s absolute monarchy, that lets a small elite live in luxury while two thirds of the population live below the poverty line, a “failure” yesterday.

I beg to differ. In fact, the so-called “victory” of the regime against the demonstrators, whose call for democracy and rule of law in the absolute monarchy that is Swaziland, may turn out to be a pyrrhic one,  making Swazi’s less likely to accept reformist measures once the inevitable change that most people want comes.

Because while the demonstrators didn’t manage to amass the numbers they had hoped for, this was mainly due to the intimidation, blocking tactics and violence of the police and security forces that did everything they could to stop people from assembling in Manzini.

Swaziland: Historic unity and merger of trade union federations

By Bheki Ntshalintshali, COSATU deputy general secretary

October 2010 -- COSATU has welcomed the great leap forward and giant step taken by workers of Swaziland in resolving to unite by merging the two federations; Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL), together with the independent Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) to form a new giant federation. It marks the deepening and strengthening of the most progressive, militant and revolutionary traditions constantly being evolved by the working class movement the world over.

This breakthrough comes after years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice behind the scenes to diagnose, confront and clear all obstacles in the way of unity. Frank and brutally honest engagements, painful and demanding persuasions, as well as engaging feedbacks to members are all the hallmarks of a transparent, democratic and accountable process characterised by traditions of worker control. Once this part of the journey has been travelled with success, the nearing horizons only serve to inspire the march on.

Swaziland: Crackdown on eve of protests, PUDEMO leader arrested

Protest march in Manzini, September 7, 2010.

[See also "Swaziland: Small country, big struggle -- global day of action for democracy".]

By Lucky Lukhele and Norm Dixon

September 8, 2010 -- The deputy president of Swaziland's People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) Sikhumbuzo Phakathi was arrested on September 6 at the Phongola border post as the Swazi police and army were deporting a delegation of South African activists from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). PUDEMO president Mario Masuku was detained before the start a protest march on September 7 to mark the global day for democracy in Swaziland. He was "escorted home" by police to prevent his participation.

Swaziland: Small country, big struggle -- global day of action for democracy

In Swaziland you can get locked up for wearing this T-shirt.

[The Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC), formed by trade unions, political parties, civil society groups and churches, has called for a global day of action on September 7, 2010. It will include a mass protest and show of “defiance” in Swaziland. Delegates from the international labour movement will join the action in Swaziland and messages of support for the SDC are to be delivered to Swazi embassies worldwide. Click HERE to download the international call, or read the document below the article.]

* * *

By Mike Marqusee

August 23, 2010 -- MikeMarqusee.com -- Swaziland is a small country with a big problem. The 1.3 million inhabitants of the land-locked southern African kingdom live under the thumb of one of the world’s last absolute monarchies, a venal and repressive regime whose plunder of the country is systematic and comprehensive.

Swaziland Democracy Campaign launched: `Justice denied anywhere is justice denied everywhere'

Swaziland's absolute monarch and tyrant, King Mswati III.

By the Swaziland Democracy Campaign

Campaigning for democracy in Swaziland NOW!

February 25, 2010 -- Johannesburg, South Africa --  On February 21, 2010, the world witnessed the launch of a global initiative to support pro-democracy forces in Swaziland: the Swaziland Democracy Campaign (SDC). This is a product of many years of working together between South African and Swaziland organisations, which includes political parties, trade unions, churches, youth and students organisations.

The SDC is an expression of the just and legitimate struggles waged by the Swazi people in their quest for human dignity, justice, democracy and human rights. It endorses the principle of justice denied anywhere is justice denied everywhere. Further, that the freedom of all the peoples of the world remains incomplete without the freedom of the people of Swaziland.

Our program

In this regard we wish to state that immediate campaigning priorities will be:

Swaziland: `The people are getting angrier and angrier'; Swaziland Democracy Campaign to be launched

February 13, 2010 -- B.V. Dlamini, deputy secretary general of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, spoke to London Student's Ingrida Kerusauskaite about the way forward for Swaziland. London Student is Europe's largest independent student newspaper. This interview is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

What is the political situation in Swaziland? What does that mean to the citizens?

The country is ruled under a dictatorship, where there is no separation of power: the judiciary, legislative and executive powers are all invested in the king, to the extent that the government cannot properly advise the monarch. First they have to know what he wants to hear, and then they tell him what he wants to hear, not what he has to hear. The distribution of resources in the country is very uneven: 69 per cent of the population live under the poverty line, despite the fact that Swaziland is regarded as a middle-income country by the international financial institutions. There are also serious violations of human rights.

Swaziland has an international reputation of being an “ideal tourist destination”. What effect does that have on the country?

Swaziland: Democracy leader released after 340 days, struggle continues

September 22, 2009 -- Morning Star -- Democracy activists in Swaziland celebrated on September 22 after the leader of the country's opposition was acquitted of terrorism charges and freed from prison after 340 days. Banned People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) leader Mario Masuku (pictured above) was arrested and charged with terrorism on November 15, 2008. The charge centred on seditious statements he had allegedly made during the funeral of a militant.

Judge Mbutfo Mamba acquitted Mr Masuku because the evidence was too weak to link him to the charge.

As Mr Masuku left the court amid scenes of jubilation, he told his comrades that the struggle for democracy and human rights in Africa's last absolute monarchy had only just begun.

Swazis claim their democratic space

By Jan Sithole, general secretary of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions

July 16, 2009 -- Ask most people around the world who are not from Swaziland what they know about the country, the most likely response will be a blank stare. Those who have heard of Swaziland are mired in stereotypes about an exotic mountain kingdom.

As a Swazi citizen who was born, brought up and lives in Swaziland, these conjured images bring weary smiles every time I am confronted with them, especially when I am abroad on an assignment representing the trade union movement.

Yes, Swaziland is a beautiful kingdom at the southern tip of the African continent, dotted with mountains and full of exciting flora and fauna and other natural scenery. Yes, Swaziland is very proud of its rich cultural heritage, which includes the famous annual reed dance. And yes our country is so small that it is often barely visible on the African map.

But we are all that and more.

Swaziland, just like the rest of Africa and the global South, is a country grappling with all the contradictions and challenges thrown up by history, globalisation and internal power politics.

Swaziland: Jailed liberation fighter Mario Masuku: `A brief autobiography'

PUDEMO President Mario Masuku.

Mario Masuku is the president of the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) -- Insika Yenkhululeko YeMaswati -- of Swaziland. Since 1983 this organisation has been banned in Swaziland because political parties are illegal. PUDEMO has called for multi-party democracy since its formation and believes the people shall govern. In November 2008, Mario Masuku was again arrested and put in prison by the repressive regime of King Mswati III, where he remains. The Swaziland government has no case and continues to delay his trial. Most recently, Masuku has been subjected to humilating and degrading treatment in prison. Meanwhile, on May 9, Mswati was feted in Pretoria at the inauguration of South African President Jacob Zuma of the African National Congress.

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By Mario Masuku

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