Statement: PUDEMO calls for multiparty democracy in Swaziland

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. The e-Forum is 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. 

PUDEMO National Executive Committee (NEC) Statement following meeting held outside the country on the 3rd-4th August, 2013

Campaign for Multiparty Democratic Elections NOW


The NEC of PUDEMO held its session to prepare for a series of major campaigns and activities in the build up to the intensification of the struggle for a people’s government in Swaziland. We welcome the massively growing movement calling for genuine multiparty democratic elections in Swaziland, with the active support of the world community of democrats and peace-loving people.

It is now clear that the Swazi people’s struggle for a new and democratic society has reached a defining moment. There is no turning back! The people have made it clear that the time is up for the corrupt tinkhundla system as a whole, including those at its driving seat.

Through mass action, refusal to register for fraudulent elections and relentless struggles, they have decisively rejected tinkhundla and its political schemes.

Their rejection of tinkhundla system is at the same time a call for a new and genuine people’s alternative and democratic system of governance in Swaziland. They want to determine the future of their country, to democratically choose their own leaders, to speak freely and organise peacefully in support of their preferred policies, candidates and organisations of their choice.

The people’s demands are PUDEMO’s demands. We say together as Swazis and our friends and supporters of democracy all over the world………….. We want to choose our own leaders now! Enough of royal impositions and being forced to choose between one corrupt leader and the other!!

Tinkhundla shall not provide alternatives to its failures. Only the people will determine their own future. Every Swazi must stand up to demand a new and democratic multiparty system of governance NOW!

Campaign for multiparty democratic elections

Our goal is to organise for a popular rejection of the undemocratic Tinkhundla system, and its false elections and to build an unstoppable campaign for a democratic alternative system of governance, based on universal human and civil rights.

It is now almost forty years since the people of Swaziland have been denied the fundamental right to participate in democratic elections and decide for themselves who should form their government.  On the 12th April 1973, a Proclamation by the then King established dictatorial rule by establishing the Tinkhundla regime which  gave the monarchy absolute power in all matters.

PUDEMO has stood by the people’s demands since its birth, 30 years ago. It has proven to be a force for change and good in society. It has resisted tinkhundla brutality against the people, has endured the pain of jailings, arrests and detentions, forced exiling and even murder of its cadres and leaders.

It has remained firmly principled in demanding a new and better Swaziland for all.

Why the tinkhundla elections are not about people’s power, but royal power and more corruption?

Tinkhundla has produced and reproduced more poverty, joblessness and hunger because it is a monopoly system of organised royal looting of state resources. You can change faces thousands of times in tinkhundla elections, but not the system that brings suffering and the very source and foundation of suffering in our country, the tinkhundla system. We must change not just people, but the system that brings about poverty, oppression, hunger and mass unemployment.

What is the meaning of democratic Multiparty elections and why do we need them in Swaziland?

Democratic multiparty elections mean that people have a right to choose freely between different policies of running the country and how the government as a whole and not just individuals with personal manifestos, but how the whole system will use national resources, fight corruption, end poverty and hunger, create jobs, ensure access to quality health and education for all and many others. Its less about people or individuals, but about policies and who is best placed to push them in the interest of the country and its people. We need multiparty democratic elections to exercise our rights freely, by allowing different parties to present their visions of the whole country and not just isolated constituencies or communities. But also ensuring that we hold those we elect accountable to the promises by ensuring a transparent system which also ensures full involvement of the people in its daily running, not just every election period.

Why a People’s Government and what is it?

A people’s government is needed to meet the needs and aspirations of the people. It is based on the will of the people, their mandate, their daily participation in driving policy and their determination of how national resources shall be used to meet their needs and the country’s development goals.

A people’s government is created by the people through their democratic power to run the country in their interest and with the full and effective participation of the people on a regular basis to assert their power and interests. It is not accountable to a tiny, un-elected minority, but to the people as a whole and serve the interests of the country and not a corrupt minority.

Tinkhundla minority elections are against universal principles of elections

According to the SADC treaty adopted in Windhoek in 1992 in Windhoek, article 4 unambiguously states “human rights, democracy and the rule of law” are principles guiding the acts of its member states. Article 5 outlines the objectives of SADC, which commits member states to “promote common political values, systems and other shared values, which are transmitted through institutions, which are democratic, legitimate and effective”.

The establishment of a democratic electoral system was clearly laid down by the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic elections, which set out 10 core principles for conducting what could be regarded as free, fair and democratic elections.

These include; a conducive environment for free, fair and peaceful elections, the establishment of impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral bodies staffed by qualified personnel, as well as competent legal entities, and effective constitutional courts, the guarantee of equal opportunities for all political parties to access state media, and guidelines for the observation of elections by impartial local and international bodies and other such factors.

The Harare Declaration of the Commonwealth agreed to by leaders of all the countries making up the commonwealth community, including Swaziland, committed itself to certain fundamental principles. These were set out clearly in 1991 in Harare, and built upon the foundations of the 1971 principles adopted in Singapore. In 1991, they further added 5 key elements, not least to reinforce the necessity of the creation of conducive conditions for free and fair elections. All of these fine sentiments are completely disregarded in Swaziland today.

Despite a prevailing reign of terror, state intimidation and torture, backed by endless stream of Tinkhundla propaganda, the regime has failed to persuade or force the people to submit to its will, despite its claims to represent the “national interest” or to enact and preserve “Swazi culture”.

PUDEMO’s demands are those of the people;

1.    Unban all political parties

2.    Abolish the un-elected royal cabals secretly running the country and put into place a democratically elected government with the necessary powers and resources to drive a national development agenda

3.    Remove of all laws that deny people their rights to organise, associate and speak out freely, such as the Suppression of Terrorism law which bans PUDEMO and its auxiliary and sister organisations

4.    Convene a democratically constituted National Convention of all stakeholders to freely participate in determining the process towards proper elections

5.    End royal abuse of the media, judiciary and state security institutions to protect and serve narrow interests of the ruling minority

6.    Stop corruption, nepotism, wastage of national resources, poor governance and human rights abuses by tinkhundla leaders using the state apparatus

7.    End poverty, hunger, landlessness and unemployment, which is a result of tinkhundla system and its failures

We say together as Swazis and our friends and supporters of democracy all over the world………….. We want to choose our own leaders now! Enough of royal impositions and being forced to choose between one corrupt leader and the other!!

Tinkhundla shall not provide alternatives to its failures. Only the people will determine their own future. Every Swazi must stand up to demand a new and democratic multiparty system of governance NOW!

PUDEMO calls on all the people;

  • To mobilise and unite the Swazi people, and democratic supporters across the world against the undemocratic tinkhundla ‘elections’ and to campaign for a genuine democratic alternative.
  • To expose the intrinsic link between the false-elections and the continuation of rule by royal decree, and the repression it requires to maintain its power. This includes the banning of political parties, the imprisonment of democratic activists and the gross corruption of the regime.
  • To deepen a popular understanding of the core tenets of a democratic electoral system and society and draw upon best practice from other parts of the world where people enjoy democratic rights.

Akuyiwa elukhetfweni lwetinkhundla! Unban PUDEMO NOW!

Statement issued by PUDEMO Secretary General

Sikhumbuzo Phakathi

+2778 511 6902


Facebook: PUDEMO

Twitter: @PUDEMO


People’s and organisations’ articles, statements, opinions, etc., that appear on MISA-Swaziland’s e-Forumare responsible for their own reporting and views



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