Call for PUDEMO to lead parties rejected
JOHANNESBURG – A proposal by COSATU to have banned political group PUDEMO lead the rest of Swaziland’s political parties in their quest for multiparty democracy was unanimously rejected on Saturday.
The suggestion was made by The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) President Sidumo Dlamini during the Swaziland Political Alternatives Indaba held at Sunnyside Park Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa, where six of Swaziland’s political formations participated.
Dlamini was the guest speaker who delivered the key note address during the indaba.
It was organised by the Swaziland Diaspora Platform with the assistance of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisations, Freedom House as well as OSISA.
Partaking in the event was the People’s United Democratic Movement, Sive Siyinqaba – Sibahle Sinje, the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC), the Communist Party of Swaziland, the African United Democratic Party (AUDP) and the National Congress for Democratic Change (NACODEC).
When the COSATU leader made the proposal, disapproval was written all over the faces of the many political leaders who frowned and shook their heads in disagreement, save for PUDEMO.
Dlamini’s point of departure was that the political parties should work towards creating a ‘strong liberation movement where all parties are united’ and PUDEMO being the leader of that movement.
"If you are divided, that is a recipe for failure. There should be a main liberation movement to lead and we say PUDEMO is the right one. There needs to be one face of the liberation struggle," Dlamini said.
He continued: "This is to avoid having a stampede when multiparty democracy comes where everyone would want to lead. Debate and agree what should be the features of the leading liberation movement. You must be able to speak in one voice; I know that this is difficult."
Responding to this proposal, a majority of the parties said it was impossible for them to play second fiddle to one organisation.
NNLC Secretary General Thami Hlatjwako said the nature of political parties was to contest power through an election and once they lost out, it would, be then possible to consider the option of forming a coalition.
"NNLC can never allow itself to be an inferior party to anyone. PUDEMO also cannot allow itself to be a junior party. We need to work as equals," he said.
Sam Mkhombe, a member of Sibahle Sinje and its representative at the indaba shared similar sentiments: "We are a fully-fledged party and we cannot allow PUDEMO to lead us. We are ready to work with them but not to be led by them."
The AUDP, through its Secretary General Sibusiso Dlamini, also rejected the proposal saying it would be belittling to them to agree to be led by another party when they also wanted to be at the forefront.
"Every political party wants to lead the struggle, so do not tell us that all political parties must be under one party. That is not only belittling but making us look like toddlers," he said.
NACODEC and the CPS, which is a breakaway from PUDEMO, chose not to comment on the issue.
So sensitive was the issue of the proposal that one of the indaba organisers, Ntombenhle Khathwane, apologised to all the political parties for the suggestion and said it was uncalled for.
She spoke after the COSATU leader’s address saying they had specifically requested that he should not mention his preference of any particular political grouping.
PUDEMO Secretary General Sikhumbuzo Phakathi, speaking after the other parties, said his organisation did not want to be imposed on the rest of the groupings. "It is the people who will say so. We don’t want anyone to impose us on the others. We’ve to contest political power and space."
The indaba was attended by Swazis both residing in the kingdom and those living in South Africa as well as the Republic’s citizens. The local media houses as well as South Africa’s Mail and Guardian covered the event.
Sibahle eyeing govt takeover
JOHANNESBURG – Conservative political party, Sive Siyinqaba – Sibahle Sinje, has boldly declared that it has set its sights on taking over the running of Swaziland’s government from next year.
This, it said it would achieve by participating in the kingdom’s 2013 National General Elections and winning a majority of seats in Parliament.
Once in control, Sibahle said it would fight to protect the institution of the monarchy and ensure that the King keeps his Executive powers but remove all those around His Majesty, who they accused of ill-advising him.
Making this declaration during the Political Alternatives Indaba in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Saturday was the party’s two executive members Simeon Masale-khaya Simelane and Sam Mkhombe.
Sibahle said the strategy was to influence the system from within and said some of its members were already in Parliament and Cabinet but claimed that most of these individuals were unknown because they had chosen to conceal their affiliation
"Our aim is to eventually win a clear majority in 2013. We will eventually control Parliament. We want to saturate Parliament such that the prime minister of the day has no choice but to include us in Cabinet and that would give us the opportunity to influence Cabinet and the authority to listen to the people. We shall participate in the 2013 elections and we invite other parties to do the same," Mkhombe said.
He continued: "You must go in there and level the playing field. We will participate because we know we will influence the system once we are in there."
The organisation said its participation in the elections was encouraged by the kingdom’s Constitution, which allows every citizen to partake regardless of party affiliation.
Simelane reiterated Mkhombe’s submissions: "Our Secretary General Marwick Khumalo is already in Parliament and we have a lot of other members in there who are unknown because we want to influence change. We have people who are already in high positions and we hide them there. We are going to fight for the elections to have our voices heard."
A bombardment of questions came on Sibahle’s way as the other political parties and some in the audience wanted to know how they could achieve a multiparty democracy and still have the King keep Executive powers.
Simelane responded: "The King is still in power because the people still want him there. We believe the King has the most vital and most important role to play. The King has ended the recent month-long teachers’ strike action, which shows he still has an important role to play. The problem is the people around him, who we have to get rid of."
He clarified that they were not bent on getting rid of those around the King with the hope that those positions would be filled by Sibahle members.
For its views, Sibahle was asked if it considered itself a genuine ally of the pro-democracy groups in Swaziland mostly because of its conservatism, to which Mkhombe replied: "That is a question of perception but Sibahle is a movement that you have to deal with in Swaziland. It is there and it is influential and increasing its presence."
Asked, what the organisation had achieved since its inception in 1996, Mkhombe said they had hoped their support of the monarchy would result in instant results but their progress had been stifled by those close to the King who have not been receptive to the changes the organisation wants to bring.
- What is it that COSATU is seeking to achieve? As far as I'm concerned all citizens of the world have to discuss ONLY AFFAIRS PERTAINING THEIR OWN COUNTRIES as all countries are now independent. COSATU must not mislead our good Swazis but concentrate on the affairs of their own country. The public will recall that some years ago PUDEMO was implicated in the bombing of public buildings in the country and that is termed 'TERRORISM'. Swaziland is a peaceful country and TERRORISM IS PROHIBITED and even bo-America condemn such practice. Who are they that they can lead this country to a peaceful multiparty democracy?
August 20, 2012, 12:18 pm, Mlungisi Nyandzeni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- So now South Africans wants to tell us what to do? Im not amazed anyway! We know what we want, we just need their support, not for them to dictate.
August 20, 2012, 12:19 pm, wandile (email@example.com)
- It doesn't make sense for someone totally blind to lead those who can see. PUDEMO is an old party which has done a lot in terms of opening our eyes about multi-parties, but I think they lost their way a long time ago when they embraced the armed struggle. Swazis don't like violence. That's why we came down the Lubombo mountains running like hell (Lubombo ngekuhlehletela), because we were afraid of fighting clans we had no business fighting. So we did the thing we're good at - running away. I can tolerate mainstream parties like Sibahle, SWADEPA and the NNLC because they're not too radical. PUDEMO is.
August 20, 2012, 3:33 pm, Hounorable Citizen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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