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MBABANE – The Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF) has decided to hold its own national dialogue.

The decision was communicated by the Chairman of the organisation Thulani Maseko after a meeting held by stakeholders in South Africa two weeks ago. Maseko said all the organisations under MSF agreed that the participation of the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) in the fight for democracy should focus on community dialogues throughout the country. He said they agreed to start engaging with the people in readiness of the political dialogue. He said their aim was not to focus on election as they took a decision to boycott it. He stated that they were invested on the issue of a national dialogue and they wanted it to happen before the election. He said the community dialogues were a build up to a bigger national dialogue they would host on September 30, 2022. He explained that the details of how the dialogues would be carried out were yet to be released.


He elaborated that their position was that they were not going to entertain anything that would promote the current system of governance. Maseko stated that the national dialogue was not just for the political parties or about government but its was about the people. “Unless the oppressed through mass formations acquire a critical consciousness of their condition and direct their principled united struggle at the structures of their oppression in order to build a transformed society in unity, there will always be space for the dominant class to make in roads, divide, co-opt and drive oppressed and constrained forms of participation that mesmerise, give false hope and mislead the masses manipulating their pain and hope. Our principle position means that we do not entertain the touted Tinkhundla elections, instead focus on our programme of action to ensure that whatever elections that are to be conducted are a product of an all-inclusive national political dialogue. We are mindful that at the end of the day the national dialogue is neither in the interest of the incumbent Tinkhundla system of government nor about the pro-democracy movement. In essence it is about the people of Eswatini,” he said.


Maseko said the people must genuinely be involved in the process and not used as pawns to rubber stamp a process that was pre-designed to protect and entrench power and interests of a few. “Our sector structures in the form of the women, youth and students, community leader and organisers, the church, business, the LGBTIW community, labour, political parties are all geared up for rolling community dialogues. We are mapping out these community dialogues and are working on a big one on or about September 31. Preparations and logistics are underway, and we will announce this pretty soon. We understand that different organisations may have different views on the elections. We are nevertheless together that our focus must be on ensuring that elections that are to be conducted must be informed by our five point principle, one of which is the call for multiparty democratic elections. Anything less than that is a non-starter,” said Maseko.


He emphasised that they were not going to wait for His Majesty King Mswati III and government to announce the dialogue. He said the traditional activities proved that the climate was now conducive for the dialogue to be held and therefore MSF was going ahead with planning and preparations. He added that they all agreed that it was time for the community dialogues to begin. “We will continue with our programme on community dialogues. We will not allow the traditional ceremonies to derail our plans. Anything that does not benefit the nation in terms of the dialogue will have to wait. We will do what we have to do to demand our freedom from the shackles system,” he added. Maseko further noted the formation of other organisations similar to the MSF and said they were not worried but were focusing on achieving their goals. He said they were committed to the freedom of the people and were not going to engage on petty fights or try to justify their organisation.


“We stand for the protection and promotion of all human rights and at the heart of democratic practices are the rights to freedom of association and assembly as well as freedom of expression, which are at the very heart of democracy.  We note the formation of another organisation. The MSF took a position that it will not allow double membership. Leaders of organisations will or have made the conscientious decision to join either. We are focused on why the MSF was founded upon and what it seeks to achieve. We will not, and it is not for us to prescribe what and which independent organisations we must join up with. We are all expected to behave responsible in line with the decisions we make,” said Maseko.
Suspended founding member of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) Bonginkosi IB Dlamini founded a new political organisation with the same functions as the MSF. Some member organisations that were a part of the MSF joined the new organisation.

The new organisation is called the United Front for Democracy in Swaziland (The Front). In a prior interview, Dlamini said The Front was a platform for all emaSwati from different persuasions and different ideologies who were bound together by a common purpose of wanting to fight for a liberated Eswatini. “That is why in the Front we are together, despite our different ideologies and different tactics since we come from different organisations with different tactics to employ in the fight for a common course, we have one common goal and that is the freedom of the people of this country.

"The other reason why The Front was formed was that we realised the need to open up the political landscape because in the past it was preserved for only political parties but we observed the need that we should also open it up so that it highlights issues faced by communities without the expectation that the people should be members of or be tied to a political party. That is why last week we had a programme where our approach was to call for the communities to highlight major issues that we need to attend to. We were trying to announce that we are available for everyone to bring their issues to us. Registration to The Front is also open to individuals and communities in general. The public is also encouraged to register any community issue that they think will need the attention of The Front,” he said. Members of different political movements, parties and groups form part of the conglomerate.

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