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PUDEMO AND THE ROYAL FAMILY

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MBABANE – Government has reluctantly approved a History subject syllabus and a book titled Swaziland in Focus, as the official material for History of Swaziland as a subject.


Studied in Forms 4 and 5, the book chronicles how the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) was formed at the height of deadly infighting within the royal family.


This is part of the Swaziland General Certificate in Secondary Education (SGCSE)
Among other people, Amos Mbedzi, the convicted Lozitha bomber and PUDEMO have officially made it to the contemporary history of Swaziland. So have the Liqoqo activities of the 1980s, which include the removal from the throne, of Queen Regent Dzeliwe.
PUDEMO is a political party banned by government in 2008.


The book is called `Swaziland in Focus’ and was published in 2013.
It is used together with a workbook titled ‘Swaziland - Political and Economical Developments.’
The workbook was compiled by Canaan Simelane. According to the book (Swaziland in Focus), the removal of Queen Regent Dzeliwe from the throne by the then Liqoqo, led to the formation PUDEMO.


It claims that the party was formed by protesting University of Swaziland students who were led by Kislon Shongwe and Africa Mhlanga.
They were protesting against the removal of then Regent Queen from the throne.


The book states that PUDEMO was formed after the confusion which prevailed in the country during the Liqoqo era.
Pupils are taught that the first activities of the political party were centred on the grievances of University of Swaziland (UNISWA) students who later called for political reforms.
The book, co-written by Sipho Dlamini, Thomas Dlamini, Notsizi Hlatjwayo and Happiness Mabuza, was initially withdrawn from the syllabus in 2012, the year it was first published.


The stated reason then, was mainly that the book’s narration on PUDEMO was not relevant to the history of Swaziland, especially because the party was a banned entity.
However, Percy Simelane, Government Spokesperson, says the book is now usable because it documented things that happened before the party was proscribed. He said PUDEMO remained proscribed in Swaziland.


The book only captured activities undertaken by the party before it allegedly became violent and was subsequently banned. Simelane said he noted some inaccuracies when he read the book.
He said these inaccuracies in some of details may need to be reviewed.
“After reading the book, I discovered that there were some facts that were not entirely correct or were missing, especially the issues on PUDEMO and its formation, as well the issues related to Amos Mbedzi,” he said.  In addition to the PUDEMO issue, pupils, in preparation for their examination, are expected to know about some sensitive documents, touching on the royal family, which were found in the possession of Amos Mbedzi.


Mbedzi was arrested and convicted after a failed attempt to bomb the Lozitha overhead bridge. An extract from High Court judge, Justice Bheki Maphalala’s judgment in the matter of Mbedzi against the State was used.
 “A top secret document, found when the Lozitha bombing convict Amos Mbedzi was arrested, portrays a bitter political division and deadly infighting within the royal family household over the succession of King Sobhuza II. Royal factions emerged, leading to the removal of Queen Regent Dzeliwe.” Below the extract is a lesson summary activity, where pupils are asked to give their opinion on the above issue.


They are asked to respond to questions like “What does the above excerpt tell you about the royal family in the 1980s?”
Another question is: “What effect did the royal family’s fighting have on the country?” The book also provides information about activities of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and its 27 demands to government.
Pupils learn how the demands brought change to the Swaziland Government.


The book also has information on the evictions of Chiefs’ Mtfuso Dlamini and Mliba Fakudze in the chiefdoms of KaMkhweli and Macetjeni.
Pupils also learn how an underground political group called Umbane bombed the Deputy Prime Minister’s offices in Mbabane. Interviewed by the Times SUNDAY, Prince Masitsela said the question of whether PUDEMO played a part in the shaping the history of Swaziland was debatable.
“We cannot make a sweeping statement on their activities or contribution to the history of the country,” he said.


Timothy Velabo Mtetwa, Ludzidzini Governor, said he was happy that Swaziland’s most recent history had been documented. “I cannot give my opinion on the events that are documented there but we trust that if government has approved it, then it is okay,” he said.
Authors of the book and its publisher asked not to comment when called about the explosive book.

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