Senior Danish Politician Mogens Lykketoft meets with Mario Masuku

Foreign Policy spokesman and Former Danish Finance Minister and Foreign Minister, Mogens Lykketoft, met with People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) President Mario Masuku in Johannesburg yesterday, February 17, to discuss the political situation in Swaziland.

Here Lykketoft expressed his support for democratisation in Swaziland. “Today Swaziland seems to be at a crossroads with only two alternatives,” he said. “Either Swaziland continues down its present path of undemocratic rule, inequality and increasingly unsustainable financial turmoil, or its masses must bring about a complete change of system – one that is democratic, participatory and based on the rule of law and human rights.”

Mogens Lykketoft was supposed to have taken part in an official fact finding mission to Swaziland where he was to have met with representatives of the democratic movement in Swaziland, including representatives from PUDEMO, Swaziland Democracy Campaign, and Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF). He had been invited by Africa Contact, a Danish NGO and partner-organisation of the SUDF.

Unfortunately, Mogens Lykketoft was not allowed to board the plane that was to take him from Johannesburg to Swaziland as he was allegedly a few minutes late. He was further told that the next plane bound for Swaziland was delayed by several hours.

Maybe the Swazi regime ordered airport staff to deliberately hinder Lykketoft from entering Swaziland and talking to Mario Masuku, whom the regime calls as a terrorist, although this is obviously impossible to prove. As luck would have it, however, Mario Masuku was also booked on the delayed flight and the two therefore decided to hold the meeting in the airport.

Amongst other things they discussed the SWADEWA Democracy Prize that Lykketoft had presented to Mario Masuku in the Danish parliament in March 2010. Masuku has been unable to attend the presentation then and Lykketoft’s meeting with Masuku was therefore also an opportunity for the latter to thank him personally.

Lykketoft said that it had been a great honour for him to meet Masuku and hear about the dedication for a peaceful, genuine democratic transformation in Swaziland. “You and your friends and comrades in PUDEMO have made great sacrifices,” he said, “and you are fighting with an admirable combination of determination and patience.”

Mogens Lykketoft is a former Tax Minister (1981-82), Finance Minister (1993-2000) and Foreign Minister (2000-01), former leader of the Danish Social Democrat Party, and the party’s present Foreign Policy spokesman. He is also the deputy speaker of the Danish parliament.

Mario Masuku has been PUDEMO’s president from 1986 to 1991 and from 1996 to the present. Masuku has been jailed and charged with treason on several occasions, although never convicted.

Listen to interview by journalist Mette Holm from the meeting.

 

Below is the speech that Lykketoft was to have given in Swaziland, but instead gave Mario Masuku personally:

Dear Mario Masuku.

Dear friends from PUDEMO,

I am sorry that we did not make it to Swaziland on Thursday because of problems of transportation.

But I am happy that because of the delays I had the opportunity at least to meet with you, Mario, in person in Johannesburg airport, and I could express my support for the cause of democratization in Swaziland as symbolized with the SWADEWA Democracy Prize to you.

I hope that the price will give a strong signal of many of us in Denmark and other European countries to help give the cause for democracy and human rights observance in Swaziland the attention it deserves.

In Denmark and other Western nations, we sometimes tend to take democracy for granted. After all, our own country’s transformation from being an absolute monarchy to becoming a democratic nation formally took place over 150 years ago – in 1849.

But Denmark was not transformed overnight. It took the pressure of enduring progressive political parties, a strong civil society and strong unions several decades to ensure full democratisation in Denmark – and in a sense any society, including the Danish, has to reinvent and nurture its democracy continuously.

This is why political parties, such as PUDEMO, and unions and civil society organizations are vital in both achieving and entrenching democracy. And this is why civil society must not whither away after formal democratisation.

As everyone here is well aware, Swaziland is a peculiar product of the days of Britain’s colonial divide and rule policies. But the democratic, progressive forces in Swaziland must look to the future, not to the past.  We all know that freedom of speech; observance of human rights; popular participation and poverty alleviation are important preconditions for a successful democratic development.

Today Swaziland seems to be at a crossroads with only two alternatives – either Swaziland continues down its present path of undemocratic rule, inequality and increasingly unsustainable financial turmoil, or its masses must bring about a complete change of system – one that is democratic, participatory and based on the rule of law and human rights.

There is no doubt that the task of the democratic movement in Swaziland is particularly difficult and challenging. The increasingly desperate and heavy-handed clampdowns on all political activity confirm this.

But as the recent popular revolts in Egypt and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East also show, democratisation under repressive regimes can happen suddenly if the popular will and leadership is there. And that it can happen even in spite of all the repressive characteristics you are so familiar with in Swaziland: a censored public space, emergency laws, an apathetic population, economic stagnation and poverty, official corruption, American subsidies, and high unemployment.

Mario, it has been a great honour for me to meet with you and hear from you personally your dedication for a peaceful, genuine democratic transformation in your country. You and your friends and comrades in PUDEMO have made great sacrifices and you are fighting with an admirable combination of determination and patience.

The SWADEWA Democracy Prize is as you said yourself not only a symbolic gesture to honour your long and selfless fight for democracy in Swaziland. It is a support for your fight and a handshake to all those who are fighting with you.

Let us hope that the ultimate prize of democracy in Swaziland is one that you and all Swazis will be able to achieve in the near future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: