MISA-Swaziland e-Forum article
The below is a statement issued by Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO). It appears here in MISA-Swaziland’s e-Forum, an ‘online space’ for news and information on Swaziland’s civil society and NGO sector — and for more general news and information on media freedom. The e-Forum is a practical expression of MISA-Swaziland’s mission to promote free speech and access to information.
The Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) has learned with utter shock and dismay reports that following a healthy dialogue between ourselves and HRH Princess Sikhanyiso pressure has been exerted to her to delete her twitter account. PUDEMO has been informed that the Princess was scolded and berated for engaging with PUDEMO on the social media platform over the past weekend particularly after the local media picked this up and made a story of our conversation.
It is now clear who the enemy of freedom of expression is as well as who refuses dialogue, minute and elementary as it may be. PUDEMO has again taken the moral high ground, despite some pockets of vilification from some within our ranks, and proven to the world that the obstinate King Mswati regime would hear nothing about us even when we have clearly showed our intentions as reasonable, understanding and more importantly committed to peace while not compromising on our principles. Despite our cordial engagements with the Princess, which were nothing but political education on her part on what we stand for, those within the circle of royals felt that she must not speak to us and forced her to delete her twitter account. Indeed we have confirmed that she has removed herself from twitter.
What crime did Princess Sikhanyiso commit?
As a serious minded revolutionary organisation we are under no illusion that our dialogue with the Princess was going to yield anything. We also do not extricate her from being part of the system and benefiting from it. Even if she were to have well-meaning intentions, the fact that the revolution threatens her family’s ill-gotten wealth, she cannot be our savior. Only we shall free ourselves from royal bondage and supremacy. However, we are alive to the fact that Princess Sikhanyiso did not choose to be born in the royal family and that for the most parts of her life all she has known is the royal outlook of life and by extension given us the baddie status without knowing who we really are. We therefore commend her for being bold enough to engage with PUDEMO, asking the many questions that people have and through her we clarified to many others who have never interacted with us. Importantly, we commend her for not being arrogant in our dialogue but showed herself as level headed and maturted.
Now the onus is on the royal family and the king in particular to explain if they are responsible for censoring the Princess. Does the king fear that the seed we planted with Princess Sikhanyiso may blossom one day? Is King Mswati threatened that our message to Princess Sikhanyiso was warmly received? Is she angry that the Princess broke ranks and decided to give PUDEMO an ear? Why was Princess Sikhanyiso berated and made to close her twitter account? Is talking to PUDEMO such a sin?
We ask these rhetorical questions knowing fully too well that indeed it is not PUDEMO that is the enemy, it is the king and his family’s visceral fear for the truth. They may have raised their children to look and fear PUDEMO as animals and now that we are exposing such lies and they are dissipating like morning dew, they no longer have a cover to hide their inexplicable failure to call PUDEMO and all other political parties to the negotiating table. PUDEMO President Mario Masuku instructed all PUDEMO members to preach the sweet message of freedom and liberation in every church, institution of higher learning, school, chiefdom, workplace, sports centres and more importantly right in the belly of the enemy–the royal house. It is only a matter of time before King Mswati opens the newspaper to find a nicely wrapped PUDEMO pamphlet. We have entered very deeply the royal household and we are being warmly received, even though clandestine our operations are at present.
Reaffirming our position on the monarchy question
PUDEMO, as a vanguard organisation, the mobiliser, organiser and guide of our people, recently clarified the monarchy question in our Policy Conference last year. We can now speak without fear of contradiction that PUDEMO is prepared and is ready to work with the monarchy within the guidelines of a constitution that defines its role and duties as a ceremonial figure. We approached this issue in both a serious-minded and revolutionary manner. PUDEMO has recognised the need and works for the strongest possible revolutionary links among all the progressive organisations in Swaziland, for the isolation of the oppressor and would never want to isolate itself as extremists but who equally would never sell the people of Swaziland. This is a principal task to which, to this day, the movement pays maximum attention. We clearly understand that it is not and can never be a revolutionary approach to seek to isolate ourselves from any actual or potential allies in the struggle for the liberation of our country. As a revolutionary organisation, PUDEMO does not believe that the unity of the whole Tikhundla population as an oppressor nation is either natural or permanent. Neither does the movement believe that unity is both forced and transient.
As the struggle intensifies, the correctness of this position will and has already been amply demonstrated. For us, now, it remains a constant task to win over to our side all those within the oppressor, the royal family, who recognise the injustice of extreme national oppression in our country and are prepared to fight for its destruction, however primitive the level of that recognition and however timid that preparedness. It can never be a revolutionary approach on our part to seek to increase the cohesion and to raise the level of unity of the enemy. It is a revolutionary approach, rather, to seek to divide him, to win over to our side whatever sections are prepared to come over to us, to neutralise those that we can and to fight the rest without giving in an inch until we emerge victorious over them; until we impose democracy and liberation over the die-hard forces of Tinkhundla and reaction. It is for this reason that we continue to fuel and laud people like Prince Masitsela who has consistently called for dialogue between PUDEMO and the monarchy. We continue to believe that as the country goes on a downward spiral, international pressure heightens and momentum of struggle picks up again. More voices from within the royal family will join the call for political dialogue to end this impasse once and for all.
Statement issued by PUDEMO spokesperson