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.
PUDEMO STATEMENT: OUR PATIENCE WITH SNAT PRESIDENT RUNNING OUT
PUDEMO is not well known for wasting time waging struggles targeting individuals with the hope that they shall be destroyed or disappear to oblivion. We have refused to degenerate into personality politics and have at all material times stated that our struggle is against Tinkhundla as a political system, while being alive to the reality that individuals drive the system and are also part of the problem. We have also waged a struggle knowing that some of those who claim to be with us are the first to cause confusion, divisions and strife within the broader progressive movement.
It is for that reason that we note the growing tendency by a few anti-Pudemo crusaders within the democratic camp who are painting us negatively at every available opportunity with the ultimate objective of demoralising, alienating and discouraging us from actively pursuing the struggle. However, our matured silence has been misconstrued to mean cowardice or an inability to defend ourselves against blatant lies peddled against the movement particularly at the teacher’s association, SNAT.
In particular, we are disturbed by recent insinuation that our members who sit in SNAT General Council are ‘opposing’ a controversial discussion around the organization’s General Secretary Muzi Mhlanga’s alleged misconduct or lack thereof. It is public knowledge that since his election as Secretary of the organisation comrade Muzi Mhlanga has had to deal with a proxy war waged against him by some of these shady characters who either want to see him fail in his duties or seen by his members and not worthy of holding the revered office of Secretary General. Members of SNAT have given a well-deserved comeuppance to this evil agenda and elected him to office for the second time.
However, the frequency of these accusations and slander against PUDEMO is worrying and felt we must put it on record state that we do not have a problem with SNAT as an organization but certain individuals in the leadership of the association who are influencing and nurturing a pervasive negative sentiment against the movement. Until the recent incident, we had noted the following:
1. The President of SNAT, Sibongile Mazibuko, has consistently used Pudemo to fight her own personal wars and to feed her obsession and hatred for our organisation. She has a right to hate PUDEMO after all we do not mind it because we do not need her approval to be in struggle, but we take serious exception when she decides to peddle lies against us all with the evil intent to obliterate the surging influence and sympathy we command within the teachers’ organisation. We have noted that she uses the fact that Pudemo is proscribed to instil fear and drive a wedge between us and SNAT members hence her mischievous ad-hominem each time the issue of why SNAT pulled out of SUDF is discussed.
2. The same strategy has been used by Mazibuko to disrupt and cause instability in TUCOSWA by insinuating that SNAT cannot continue affiliating to the federation because they (SNAT) pays too much a subscription and also because it (TUCOSWA) affiliates to SUDF which ‘houses’ proscribed entities. Her lame and ridiculous argument is that the state may also proscribes SNAT thus members lose their investments in the form of savings in their cooperative. Sadly, some naïve members have fallen for this ludicrous hooey and have assisted the President in her anti-Pudemo crusade. Sibongile is well known for her facile clutching at straws each time the facts are presented on the history of the formation of TUCOSWA and the payment of subscriptions which she uses for her sclerotic arguments for a pull out.
We condemn this constant dragging of the Pudemo name into labour issues whether it is done in TUCOSWA or its affiliates. The leadership in the labour movement must in return assist their membership understand the following:
1. Pudemo neither runs or owns any trade union, but welcomes and supports progressive, honest and democratic trade union practices. Therefore, Pudemo poses no threat to the labour movement in the country. If anything we are the only organisation to have assisted build unions where there were none and strengthened them where they existed. But, we have never sought to run any union by remote control or planting surrogate leaders for us to control from behind.
2. Leaders, including those of SNAT, must learn to lead by providing sound ideas and solutions that shall advance the course of the organization than resort to cheap face saving stunts and dragging the precious name of the organisation into her childish fights within her association.
3. Weak leadership must not cover its weaknesses by blaming others for the challenges facing their organization, but be honest and deal with the challenges.
4. Leaders must not discriminate their membership according to political affiliation. It is absurd that in SNAT, in particular, there is always the mentioning of Pudemo without acknowledging that there are also NNLC members (where Sibongile is a member) and it is these members who are always in support of her strong opprobrium against Pudemo. We have at all material times refused to allow Sibongile to drive a wedge between us and the NNLC but we must help the general membership to know that a majority of SNAT executive members are also members of the NNLC and therefore each time some of these senile leaders accuse Pudemo of this or that they must be questioned about their own membership to other political parties as well. Some hide their membership to other political parties and attack Pudemo as if they are standing on positions of moral and ethical objectivity yet are pursuing a party agenda just that they not proud of their parties to openly declare them.
We are also noting how the media deliberately gives platforms to any thing that is anti-Pudemo or that will cast us in a negative light. When we send statements, the local media rarely publish. However, when they stumble on something that will portray Pudemo in a negative light they are quick to publish then run around looking for Pudemo officials to confirm.
We wish to again put it on record that no individual can destroy Pudemo. The state with all its resources has tried for over 30 years, but failed.
Statement issued by Sikhumbuzo Phakathi
PUDEMO Secretary General
078 511 6902
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