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MBABANE – SWALIMO President Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane and PUDEMO President Mlungisi Makhanya faced off on Monday night during a Newzroom Africa interview, conducted by anchor Thabo Mdluli.

SWALIMO is an acronym for Swaziland Liberation Movement. The news anchor wanted to know about the tactical approaches by the two political formations in fighting the current tinkhundla system, if they could core exist or were at odds. SWALIMO has indicated its intention to participate in the 2023 national elections to fight the tinkhundla system from within, while PUDEMO has outrightly rejected it. Responding to Newzroom Afrika, a premier South African 24-hour TV news channel,  the SWALIMO president said the strategy of boycotting elections had been done for over 40 years and had not worked, although others may argue that it had. Simelane said getting into the current Parliament was not the democracy they wanted, but a tactic to keep fighting.


He stated that if the entire country could stand and place pro-democracy people into Parliament, surely the elections would be suspended by the regime. “What we are pushing is a constitutional crisis,” the SWALIMO president said. He stated that for the first time, the politics of Eswatini had been attacked because they crashed it from the inside with the other two incarcerated MPs. “When we entered Parliament, no one believed that we would do what we did,” he said. Simelane said he had no problem with PUDEMO in believing in what they did. However, he stated that they knew that it would not be easy, but would fight to get their cadres into Parliament come 2023, if all their other efforts had failed. “Our wish is not to have the 2023 elections held under tinkhundla but to have them under multi-party,” he added.

He further mentioned that they would fight hard to not have tinkhundla elections in 2023, but in the event their energies did not give the desired fruits, they would then consider deploying their cadres in all the tinkhundla centres in order to fight from within. “As SWALIMO, we believe we must use all weapons to kill the elephant, but in the event the elephant does not die before 2023, we are deciding to put more poison in the water that the elephant is about to drink,” he explained. This, he said, meant that they had a dosage of three out of 59 MPs who were the poison to the elephant inside the current Parliament. “We want to increase the dosage to at least 40 out of 59 tinkhundla centres,” he said.

Simelane noted that without claiming much, he was convinced the three MPs played a huge role in the wave of the political unrest that was being experienced in the country. “If three could create this, what would happen if we take it to 40,” he added. The former MP stated that everyone was entitled to their own opinion nonetheless, and believed that PUDEMO would also keep pushing their own ideas as well. Simelane described their relationship with PUDEMO as that which was passing through a phase, adding that all was under control nonetheless. He said he believed that they all wanted a dialogue that was based on the Boksburg standard and declarations.


When pressed further by the news anchor on whether Simelane understood why their fighting the elephant from the inside tactic was read as an endorsement of the tinkhundla system, which had been outrightly rejected by PUDEMO, he stated that it was not, but they were pushing for a constitutional crisis. Meanwhile, he said they were standing on shoulders of great men as the struggle did not start now, but way back around the1960s ‘but the three MPs inside the stomach of the elephant played a huge part in what is seen as unrest today’. He said they were not endorsing the system, but when forcing the elephant to drink poison and whosoever felt they were endorsing it, clearly meant they did see things the same way. “PUDEMO is allowed to think their own way and has to respect our line of thinking.”

The president said at the end of it all, no one owned the copyright of thinking. The news anchor asked Simelane on whether their challenges with PUDEMO emanated from the fact that Makhanya allegedly mocked him during the May Day celebrations, to which Simelane requested to be disassociated from the many claims that were made, adding that there were misunderstandings. He stated that it was for the first time that Eswatini experienced the current political space, and as such the perception of the masses would never be at par. The president said he was aware of the claims which were made by people. He said what transpired during the May Day celebrations was that SWALIMO’s foot soldiers, who were on the ground, felt let down by being denied the platform to speak. Simelane further noted that when the PUDEMO president was making his address, the SWALIMO members perceived it as though he was mocking him.

He said after he made a call to the PUDEMO president, he gave an insight on the speech he had made and that he made salutations to the movement in his introductory remarks. This, he said was, the reason that he termed what happened as a misunderstanding between brothers and sisters, who were at the phase of finding one another as they dealt with the elephant in the room.

Simelane said the two organisations, SWALIMO and PUDEMO, agreed on many things, including that they no longer wanted the current system but that they wanted a multi-party democracy. The president mentioned that the only difference that existed were the tactics through which they wanted to pursue the course they had. He said he believed that they all wanted a dialogue that was based on the Boksburg standard and declarations. Responding to Newzroom Afrika, Makhanya, the PUDEMO President, said it was shocking that some leaders would want to claim the positives of the struggle, but failed to take responsibilities of the negatives.


Makhanya noted that he was hoping the SWALIMO president would give a detailed report on what transpired between 2018 and last year during the uprising. He mentioned that it was not the first time having MPs in Parliament taking a progressive stunt. “We had an opportunity in this country where MPs by majority decision, passed a vote of no confidence on the executive,” he said. Makhanya said the Constitution was clear as to what should happen when Parliament had passed a vote of no confidence on the executive, but it was ignored by the regime. He said Parliament then decided to reverse the decision. Furthermore, he said it was untruthful to want to attribute the uprising to the only three MPs and claim that by far it was the role that they played. “To want to say that we had an uprising because of three Members of Parliament is actually a distortion.”


According to Makhanya, the reality of the situation was quite to the contrary. He stated that the activities outside Parliament, in the form of protests which were started by the SNUS and joined by the broader pro-democracy movement, was the one that galvanised the people and that the uprising was never necessarily the one that took place inside chambers, but the one that occurred outside, led by a variety of sources, including the three MPs. Makhanya said there was not even a single parliamentary decision that was taken which was aimed at reversing the rot, and making sure that there was a transfer of resources to the much needed social assistance for the people.

The anchor also put it to Makhanya that the SWALIMO president had mentioned that they believed they had made it difficult for Parliament to function with just three members, and placing at least 40 would result in a greater movement and traction in as far as the things which were called for by the democratic movement were concerned.  In response, Makhanya said as far as he recalled, Parliament functioned and while they spoke out against some of the things that were happening, but most of the things they were pushing for did not find traction into Parliament. “I can’t recall of any parliamentary resolution. The very same legislature took a decision to approve the E1.4 billion loan for a new Parliament,” he said.

He stated that there had been a series of loans that the current government took in order to meet its financial obligations. Makhanya said this did not suggest that the three MPs were not trying their best to make sure that these things did not happen. The PUDEMO president stated that the fact of the matter was that the country did not have a legislature. “The mere fact that we have two MPs languishing in jail and one on the run in exile, was in itself evidence that the Parliament we have is just a rubber-stamp.” He said parliamentarians did not even enjoy what other MPs enjoyed in the form of immunity on the work that they did and the things they said inside chambers.


Makhanya said to want to encourage emaSwati to legitimise the royal supremacy by participating and voting more people into Parliament to make a meaningful difference was an unfortunate distortion. He said they did not boycott the tinkhundla elections, but merely did not participate. Makhanya said they did not end there but continued to mobilise and conscientise the people making sure that they waged their struggle against royal supremacy. He said there was nothing gained by the people by participating in the tinkhundla elections.

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