We stay: SSN defies PUDEMO
MBABANE – The war between two pro-democracy groups, the banned People’s United Democratic Movement and its vocal ally, the proscribed Swaziland Solidarity Network, is snowballing and looks far from over.
True to its word, South Africa-based SSN has defied an immediate ban on its activities that was announced by PUDEMO.
Further, a directive that the SSN members should, within seven days, vacate the Johannesburg office, as it allegedly belongs to PUDEMO, has also been defied.
The Times Investigations desk has been following the conflict between these groups and got hold of the political organisations’ leaders who confirmed the continued clash.
As if gloating, SSN Spokesperson Lucky Lukhele, said the suspension by PUDEMO has had no effect on the organisation’s operations.
"The so-called suspension has no impact on our operations. In fact it has exposed a shocking lack of understanding of our role as a solidarity movement. Indeed, it was disappointing, particularly when some involved in this decision were previous recipients of our solidarity, which they now, selfishly, do not want to extend to other comrades.
"This we shall not accept. For all we know, solidarity cannot be selective and be driven by personal interests – it should seek to meet the needs of the affected. On that note, the SSN has done its part very well," Lukhele said in response to questions from the Times.
On the seven-day ultimatum, Lukhele, who also happens to be a member of PUDEMO, said they were still occupants of the Johannesburg office and were not considering vacating it at the moment.
"The directive is immaterial and of no consequence as it does not affect the primary role and mission of SSN.
SSN’s role is the provision of practical and human solidarity to the Swaziland democratic forces and persecuted members, many now living in exile in the Republic of South Africa," the spokesperson said.
He further affirmed: "Therefore, we have not vacated and shall not do so until the above concerns and the people of Swaziland enjoy full freedom and exercise their inalienable human rights."
Despite SSN’s blatant defiance of the suspension, PUDEMO Secretary General, Sikhumbuzo Phakathi, said his organisation stood by its statement.
"Nothing has changed. If there are people who think they will defy the organisation, they must be alerted that the organisation will implement its decision. There is a clear internal process that is unfolding regarding the same issues.
"We note all responses and statements following our NEC decisions; positive and negative; defiant and supportive," Phakathi said.
By not having taken action against SSN’s defiance as yet, the secretary general said this was not, in any way, a sign of having no control over its members and affiliates alike.
"PUDEMO is not weak. The difference between PUDEMO and other organisations is that we have clear processes and procedures that cannot be flawed.
"We follow our constitution and directives from our structures," Phakathi said. PUDEMO suspended SSN after the former’s National Executive Comm-ittee (NEC) said it had noted tendencies by the latter to ‘undermine and ridicule the liberation movement and the genuine forces of democracy in Swaziland, including the newly formed unitary federation TUCOSWA and other civic organisations’.
This happened after the SSN, using derogatory language, had posted statements on the internet that were critical to PUDEMO’s leadership and other solidarity partners.
The SSN had also issued a statement that criticised Peter Kenworthy of the Danish-based NGO Africa Contact that supports pro-democracy movements in Swaziland.
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