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The situation in Swaziland

category southern africa | repression / prisoners | opinion / analysis author Thursday December 01, 2005 21:08author by Michael - ZACF Report this post to the editors

Statement by the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)

This is a public statement by the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), the mainstream political opposition movement in Swaziland. We, the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF) of southern Africa, also organise in Swaziland and support the pro-democracy movement, but agitate for it to go beyond the usual bourgeois betrayal and involve a destruction of the Swazi capitalist state and its replacement by decentralised popular assemblies of communities and producers. As the only revolutionary organisation in Swaziland, our members are among those who have suffered jail at the hands of the monarchist police, so our position is directly informed by personal experience.

This is a public statement by the People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), the mainstream political opposition movement in Swaziland. We, the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Federation (ZACF) of southern Africa, also organise in Swaziland and support the pro-democracy movement, but agitate for it to go beyond the usual bourgeois betrayal and involve a destruction of the Swazi capitalist state and its replacement by decentralised popular assemblies of communities and producers. As the only revolutionary organisation in Swaziland, our members are among those who have suffered jail at the hands of the monarchist police, so our position is directly informed by personal experience.

1st December 2005

The royal family regime wastes public funds to buy support from soldiers and police - Swaziland must stand up fight to overthrow the family now!

The Dlamini family regime has once again proved to the people of Swaziland that it does not care about their welfare. Recent expenditure where about E333 Million has been used largely to increase salaries for cabinet ministers, member of parliament, police and soldiers. Only an insignificant amount was allocated to public spending where the people will benefit.

PUDEMO is not surprised. We have always maintained that the only solution is to overthrow this family regime and replace it with a democratic government.

For many years people of Swaziland have lamented at such public funds wastage, but the regime has not changed. It will not change on its own. We must stand up and fight for our rights and freedom now. PUDEMO was founded for the same very reason; to stop the looting of public funds and hand over the resources to the people once the family regime has been overthrown.

To the International community we say;

  • Apply smart sanctions on the King and its government officers as they waste public funds whenever he travels abroad with his family and friends
  • Stop AID to Swaziland because whatever money donated ends up being misused by the family and its cronies like the cabinet ministers, police and soldiers.
  • Expel Swaziland from international bodies like SADCC, AU, Commonwealth and UN for violation of human rights
The situation in Swaziland is as follows:

255 years of Royal slavery.

Since 1750 one minority family has ruled the people of Swaziland with iron fist. Like everywhere in the world there comes a time when the people say enough is enough. The time for Swazis to say enough of Royal slavery has come. The hour to remove this iron yolk and the chains of oppression is now.

35 years of state of emergency and Tinkhundla oppression.

It was on April 12, 1973 when the Dlamini family repealed the independence constitution and assumed absolute control of our people. Political parties were banned, parliament dissolved and the King ruled our people by decree. A state of emergency was forced on our people. One man called a King assumed supreme powers over our people.

This has taken many forms over the past 35 years. The people have been virtually held hostage by one man and his family under the guise of a Royal family.

The people have been demanding their human dignity and rights in peace over the past 35 years.

The people have over the past 35 years peacefully resisted this modern day slavery. Many peaceful demonstrations, hunger strikes, memorandums and letters, petitions and various representations to the family have been made.

The family has responded violently to this peaceful resistance.

Over the past 35 years the family responded violently on the peaceful people, and these took different forms:
  • Arrest and torture of political leaders
  • Incarceration of political opponents under sedition and high treason
  • Forceful evictions
  • Dismissals from places of employment
  • Killing of prisoners
  • Torture and killing of inmates
  • Forced exile of political opponents
  • Expulsion of University students
  • Deportation of opponents
  • Continued brutality against University students and other colleges of higher learning
As mentioned above in all these years, the people of Swaziland have shown restraint that bordered on insanity.

Other forms of abuse of our people by the Dlamini family.

The family has continued to loot the resources of the people of Swaziland. These have taken the following forms:
  • Luxury lifestyles that can make the Sultans of Brunei sulk with envy
  • Many wives that are maintained by the people of Swaziland (Currently there are about 12 official wives)
  • Luxury palaces and state houses for each one of these wives
  • All the wives are assigned body guards 24 hours
  • Luxury palaces and BMW cars for the many wives of the late King Sobhuza
  • Top of the range BMW X5s for each of the wives
  • Multi million Emalangeni worth of car collections including the maybach
  • Royal children attend expensive schools overseas, notably England and the USA
  • Millions spent on the King’s and Queen Mother’s birthday
  • Millions spent on many cultural activities that are meant to further entrench the political hegemony of the family
  • King has shares in major companies like MTN, the sugar industry, and hotel industry
Against this backdrop, the people of Swaziland live under object poverty:
  • A Swazi family lives under $1 a day
  • HIV/AIDS prevalence is at 42%
  • Unemployment high
  • Lack of social welfare grant for the aged and infirm
  • Lack of universal free primary education
  • Lack of basic amenities like water for the majority of the people
  • Lack of land ownership as our people are squatters in their own country
The abovementioned sequence of events show who really are the perpetrators of violence between the minority family and the people of our country.

The Constitution

The king and his family had on numerous occasions made it clear that there was no need for a constitution in Swaziland.

The people under PUDEMO fought many battles for a constitution of the country. When the pressure was unbearable on the family, the King decided to hijack the initiative and force a Royal constitution on the people.

The major problems the people have with the constitution include the five major areas:

  1. The document was not crafted by a free people. The process was not all inclusive where all stakeholders would have had a say on its character and content.
  2. The King ensured that he is above the constitution. This gives him a right to change or throw away the constitution at his will just like his father did in April 12, 1973.
  3. The constitution ensures the King had absolute control over the land.This gives him unlimited control over the majority of our people who reside in these rural lands.
  4. The constitution gives him control over the government taxes
  5. The constitution gives him control over the economy.
These resources are never used for the development of the people.

The question here, what should a people do to free themselves from such a vicious family? PUDEMO believe in dialogue. The proof of this is its tolerance over the past 25 years.

However, in Swaziland the king does not want dialogue. He is scared of allowing the people to be free to decide their own future. This is because he knows that a free Swazi will not agree to be a servant that provides service for free under the guise of culture and tradition.

Challenge the king to open genuine national dialogue.

We challenge anyone out there who thinks he can convince the king to allow the people of Swaziland to a genuine dialogue that will help usher in a new democratic political dispensation to help.

Swaziland is in crossroads today; either dialogue or war. Let the world know, we never chose war, but war has been imposed on us by the king and his family. This has happened over a period of 35 years.

PUDEMO shall never surrender to the oppression of the king and his family.

King Mswati will be remembered as the King who failed the people of Swaziland. He will be remembered as a last king who allowed the country to engage in a bitter civil war that destroyed this tiny African state at a time when the rest of the region was embracing democracy and progressing forward.

Never again shall our children be slaves of King Mswati's children.

We know the price we have to pay for our freedom. We are prepared to pay the highest sacrifice for the freedom of our people and the generations to come. We are prepared to die for our freedom.

The people want a process that is driven by them, that cannot be reversed, and that can guarantee amongst others:

  1. Unconditional Right to land.
    Land for our people is central to our struggle. Land should no longer be a property of the Royal Family with chiefs administering it on the family's behalf. If we allow this to happen, we would have betrayed the people of Macetjeni and KaMkhweli, Mkhwakhweni and many of our people who have been evicted because of their political or religious beliefs. We remember and salute the members of the Jehovah's Witness who have been victimised for their belief over the years. We pray to their God to be with them and ensure that the constitution does guarantee their rights as HIS creation.
  2. Right to Education
    Our people must have an unconditional right to free Primary education. This has been a preserve for the Royal family, which has been sending its children, even those who never deserved, to overseas countries at a huge cost to the taxpayer.
    HIV/AIDS has made it impossible for the majority of our people to go to school, and the time is now to guarantee the right to education in the constitution.
  3. Right to Primary health care and HIV/AIDS drugs.
    Our people are dying of HIV/AIDS and the royal family is using our taxpayer to get treatment in a state of the art hospital at Lobamba, and in other countries. The constitution should guarantee equal treatment for our people.
  4. Right for the elderly and the disabled to be taken care of through social grants schemes.
    For many years our people have been made beggars by taking citizenship of neighbouring South Africa in search of social grants. We all know that this will not continue for long before the South Africans turn them back because they have their own pressing social responsibility. q The constitution must ensure that our people are afforded this right to live.
  5. Right to food security and shelter.
    Whilst the royal family live in palaces and first world bungalows and driving top of the range BMW X5s with body guards and chauffeurs, whilst the royal family and its friends spend E100 million in 3 days under the guise of Smart Partnership, spend another E100 Million for the King's celebration and the so-called independence in two days and yet another E50 Million in so-called national "selections", it does not make sense for our people to have a constitution that does not guarantee their rights to food security and shelter. Too many of our people are dying of hunger and starvation in the world of plenty. q Swaziland shall never be allowed to be another Ethiopia when thousands died of starvation. The only way out is for us Swazis to guarantee these rights so that the issue will remain central to successive democratic governments q Dams building should be central in a democratic government to ensure our people have sufficient food. Reliance on yellow maize from donor agencies and countries should not be the priority as it is under Tinkhundla. Without starvation, we all know that Mshamndane (Disaster task force Chairman) will never be happy because his business will close shop.
  6. Right to organise and belong to political parties.
    This is an unalienable right, which we have fought for with passion for many years now. We as a political party shall never be wished away. It is a complete waste of time to think Swaziland can effectively operate under Tinkhundla with the exclusion of political parties.
    The constitution must guarantee the free existence and operation of political parties under a multiparty democracy.
  7. Executive powers to be vested in the people through the constitution.
We are where we are because of the selfless sacrifice that the People of Swaziland under the leadership of PUDEMO made.

This hard fact can never be taken away from our history as a nation, and we salute our comrades, both fallen and alive for their heroic struggle and selfless sacrifice for the people to be free from 255 years (1750 – 2005) of royal bondage.

Finally we call upon the freedom loving people of the world to support us morally, financially and otherwise for freedom of our people is near.

The struggle for the emancipation of the Swazi people continues.

Ignatius Bonginkosi Dlamini Secretary General

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