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PUDEMO claims to have 15 000 members

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MBABANE – Banned political party, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), claims to have more than 15 000 members under its belt.

The entity, which was proscribed in 2008, believes that it is the most followed in Swaziland.
This is the first time that the organisation, formed on July 6, 1983, has come forth with figures of its membership. Yesterday, PUDEMO took to its official twitter account where it stated that “we the only party with the biggest following on Facebook, Twitter and the largest membership in Swaziland. Don’t hate.” (verbatim)

When asked to provide figures, the political party wrote: “We don’t have reliable data as we still recollecting it after the proscription. Most of our members went underground. However, in our last count before conference last year, we had 15 490 members. But the membership has gone up. We aim for more.” (verbatim) By yesterday, PUDEMO’s Facebook page had ‘more than 100 friends’, its Twitter account had 226 followers while the organisation is following 411 people and had made 504 tweets by the time of going to press.

PUDEMO Spokesperson Zakhele Mabuza said their members consisted of those under their youth wing, the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), and the PUDEMO Women’s League.

“Our membership is really going up even after we were proscribed. We had feared that after the ban, no one would want to associate with us but that has not been the case. The curiosity of what PUDEMO is, is what is driving people to want to be our members,” Mabuza said.
He, however, could not reveal how they conduct their recruitment drives as he said this would give their strategies away and attract detractors to work against them.

Swaziland, with a population of about 1.3 million, is home to a number of political parties including Sibahle Sinje – Sive Siyinqaba, the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC), the Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA), the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), SWAYOCO, PUDEMO and other less significant entities.

The NNLC is the oldest, followed by PUDEMO, SWAYOCO then Sibahle Sinje.
The CPS and SWADEPA are relatively new, having been formed over the past two years.
During the Swaziland Political Indaba held in Johannesburg, South Africa last year, all these organisations failed to disclose the number of members they had.

Save for Sibahle Sinje, they also failed to produce their manifestos.
Under the kingdom’s Tinkhundla system of governance, political parties are not allowed to contest elections but members can participate in their individual capacities.

PUDEMO, SWAYOCO and CPS have been most vocal in calling for the boycott of the 2013 National General Elections slated for later this year as they say elections should be held under multiparty democracy.
Sibahle Sinje and SWADEPA are two organisations that have openly said they would participate in the elections by having their members contest in their respective constituencies. SWADEPA has said it was targeting an ambitious 50 of the 55 available parliamentary seats, which amounts to 90 per cent.

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