PUDEMO claims to be behind strikes
MBABANE – The banned People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) claims to be behind the current teachers’ strike action and other protests by civil servants’ unions.
The organisation, which was proscribed in 2008 by Premier Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini after it was categorised as a terrorist entity, says it has a lot of members within the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union and the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union who are leading the strike. This was said by PUDEMO Secretary General, Sikhumbuzo Phakathi, in an interview with the Times last week.
Phakathi said some of the country’s unions were fully controlled by PUDEMO as it was the banned organisation’s standing resolution ‘to build a strong, united trade movement and civil society…’
"So yes, we have a lot of members in SNAT, NAPSAWU, SWADNU and all the unions in the country and we continue to recruit. Actually in some unions, PUDEMO has 100 per cent leadership control, in some factories you find that the whole workforce is PUDEMO membership because our organisers continue to build this movement," he said.
According to Phakathi, their members have a standing instruction, wherever they are, to lead their sectors, raise consciousness and provide political guidance. "This we have seen in many sectors of society. That is why government is always quick to say ‘this issue has been politicised’. There is no mass action that just happens on its own, one way or the other, the movement is involved," he claimed.
PUDEMO’s involvement, Phakathi said, was invisible and respected the proceedures of the different sectors.
"And in this attempt to see if indeed PUDEMO is leading, you will be looking for PUDEMO T-shirts among the masses (and) you will be disappointed. But to establish that, listen to what the people are saying, how they say it and then trace the political roots of that. You will find one source ... PUDEMO," the secretary general claimed.
Asked to comment on PUDEMO’S claims, Government Press Secretary, Percy Simelane, simply replied: "We have no reason to comment."
Government banned PUDEMO together with its youth wing the Swaziland Youth Congress and another entity known as Umbane.
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