PUDEMO suspends SSN
MBABANE – Swaziland’s proscribed political entity PUDEMO has, with imm-ediate effect, suspended its most vocal ally, the South Africa-based Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) that is behind the famed cultural boycott.
The People’s United Democratic Movement, regarded in some quarters as the main political opposition in Swaziland, has also ordered the indefinite closure of SSN’s Johannesburg office.
Further, the quartet of SSN Spokesperson Lucky Lukhele, members Pius Vilakati alias Pius Rinto, Reuben van Vuuren, Sipho Dube and all others in the SSN office have received a ‘directive’ to ‘vacate the office within the next seven days’.
In a statement released yesterday by Secretary General Sikhumbuzo Phakathi, PUDEMO said these decisions were taken by the PUDEMO National Executive Committee following tendencies by SSN to "undermine and ridicule the liberation movement and the genuine forces for democracy in Swaziland, including the newly formed unitary federation TUCOSWA and other civic organisations."
Of late, the SSN, using derogatory language, has been posting statements on the internet that are critical of PUDEMO’s leadership and other solidarity partners.
Over a week ago, SSN issued a statement that criticised Peter Kenworthy of the Danish-based NGO Africa Contact that supports pro-democracy movements in Swaziland.
The Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS), reacting to the criticism, staged an attack on the SSN and called for Lucky Lukhele to be kicked out and the orga-nisation to be disbanded.
PUDEMO, in its statement, said it could not allow the SSN to constantly attack different people of ‘good standing’, inside and outside Swaziland, as well as organisations that work with any sector of the struggle for democracy in the kingdom.
It went on to mention that it was alarmed at SSN’s attacks on PUDEMO allies, more particularly alliance partners in South Africa, as well as on genuine forces for democracy in Swaziland, particularly TUCOSWA and SNUS recently.
"PUDEMO considered in detail that the formation of the SSN was by a resolution of the National Executive Committee of PUDEMO in 1997, with a clear mandate and the events today are way out of the mandate of the SSN and as such, at this moment in time the NEC resolves to indefinitely suspend the activities of the SSN with immediate effect.
This will be accompanied by the indefinite closure of the physical office of the SSN, which is a PUDEMO office; re-engagement of genuine friends of the Swazi people in South Africa to render solidarity," PUDEMO said.
The banned political entity said in the meantime it was going to work with its allied organisations on the "refocusing, reorientation and reor-ganisation of the solidarity work, after which the (SSN) office will be opened with a renewed mandate.
"In this regard, PUDEMO wishes to clarify that it shall hold an urgent meeting with the current SSN leadership to chart a way forward; the outcomes of which shall be duly communicated to all alliance partners in South Africa and friends of PUDEMO all over the world," the organisation elaborated.
PUDEMO warned that failure by SSN’s Lukhele and others to vacate office will result in the NEC acting ‘accordingly and decisively’.
‘We are not moving an inch’
MBABANE – A defiant Lucky Lukhele, the Spokesperson of the Swaziland Solidarity Network, yesterday said they were not moving an inch from the orga-nisation’s Johannesburg office.
During a telephonic interview, Lukhele said the People’s United Democratic Movement had no authority over SSN activities and, therefore, there was no way the political entity could direct him to vacate office.
"I am employed by SSN. PUD-EMO has no authority to fire me. Only the SSN has capacity to fire me. I didn’t put myself in the position I am in. I won’t leave the office. Every morning from Monday to Friday at 8am I will be in the office. PUDEMO hasn’t even spoken to me formally of their decision. As I speak right now, I’m in the SSN office. If the SSN says I should go, only then will I go but not PUDEMO. PUDEMO cant’ tell SSN how to run its affairs. Yes, I’m a PUDEMO member but I’m employed by the SSN," Lukhele boldly declared.
He said according to his knowledge, the SSN was formed by South Africans, thus it remained a South Africa organisation, which was why even its leadership positions were occupied by South Africans.
"I don’t even hold a leadership position at SSN. I’m just the spokesperson and campaign coordinator. The only Swazi to have held a leadership position is Bongani Masuku," Lukhele said.
However, PUDEMO Secretary General, Sikhumbuzo Phakathi, disputed Lukhele’s assertion and said SSN was founded by PUDEMO.
"We need to stress that SSN didn’t just grow out of nowhere. It is a substructure of PUDEMO and therefore must follow the direction of the movement. The SSN was formed in 1997 and it was known then as the PUDEMO International Meeting before it became known as the Swaziland Solidarity Committee and now it is called the Swaziland Solidarity Network.
Even the office it occupies is a PUDEMO office whose use we agreed upon with the South Africa Communist Party," Phakathi said.
He reiterated that should Lukhele disobey PUDEMO orders to vacate the SSN office, there would be ways to deal with him.
That is not going to happen. Not now, not ever.
May 10, 2012, 1:32 AM, SSN Member (email@example.com)
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