Danish congratulations to PUDEMO on anniversary

pudemoIn the last 30 years, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) has been “the main force in fighting for democracy,” Danish solidarity organisation Africa Contact wrote in a press release in connection with PUDEMO’s 30th Anniversary.

PUDEMO has been the main proponent of “a broadly socialist and pro-poor political programme, and for ensuring the inclusion of the population at large in the political process,” Danish democratic socialist party and PUDEMO project partner the Red Green Alliance wrote in another press release.

Africa Contact and the Red Green Alliance are two of the main supporters of the democratic movement in Swaziland. Africa Contact has worked with several of the important organisations in the democratic movement for many years now and the Red Green Alliance is presently engaged in a partnership project with PUDEMO.

The Red Green Alliance commends PUDEMO the organisations’ involvement in “mass campaigning and civic education of the masses” in a country where there is virtually no political space due to the ban on political parties and the “brutal suppression” of the democratic movement in general, and PUDEMO in particular.

And Africa Contact goes on to commend PUDEMO’s resolution and success in pressurizing the regime, regardless of the difficulties that the organisation faces. “PUDEMO’s success can be seen in the increasingly desperate measures of the regime, not least in the increasing level of repression that PUDEMO and other organisations fighting for multi-party democracy have to endure,” says Africa Contact.

Read the press releases below:

Press release: Red Green Alliance

The Red Green Alliance wishes to congratulate the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) in Swaziland on their 30th Anniversary today, the 6th of July 2013.

During the thirty years that PUDEMO have existed, the movement has been the main proponent of the fight for democracy and basic human rights in Swaziland, for a broadly socialist and pro-poor political programme, and for ensuring the inclusion of the population at large in the political process.

PUDEMO’s anniversary comes at a time when both the party itself and Swaziland stands at a crossroads. Swaziland is in crisis – financially, socially and politically. And PUDEMO needs all the support they can get as any political manifestation they make is met with repression, government spying, detaining, torture, and in some cases even the murdering of its members by the regime – even though PUDEMO is merely peacefully demanding democracy and socio-economic justice for the population of Swaziland.

PUDEMO is the largest political party in the small absolute monarchy of Swaziland. A country that absolute monarch, King Mswati III, controls every aspect of, where to thirds of the population survive on less than a dollar a day while the king and a small elite live in luxury, where life expectancy is below 40 due to AIDS, where all parties are banned, and where PUDEMO and the democratic movement as a whole are brutally suppressed.

PUDEMO’s political programme includes the creation of a welfare state, free education and health care for all, and a society where the king has no executive or other political powers. PUDEMO urges the population to boycott this years so-called elections, and the international community to introduce targeted sanctions against the royal family and Swaziland’s corrupt elite.

PUDEMO is also involved in mass campaigning and civic education of the masses, which are two of the main elements of PUDEMO’s Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy-supported project with the Red Green Alliance. This project will e.g. capacity build and economically empower PUDEMO as well as enable the members of the Red Green Alliance to have first-hand inside information on a specific case of a freedom struggle in the twenty first century.

The Red Green Alliance and PUDEMO started cooperating on this project last year but the relationship of the two parties goes back much further. The friendship between the Red Green Alliance and PUDEMO was reiterated a couple of weeks ago when PUDEMO’s President, Mario Masuku, visited the Red Green Alliance during an official visit to Denmark.

During this visit Mario Masuku thanked the Red Green Alliance. “We will ultimately be our own liberators. But our partnership with the Red Green Alliance will go far, and the solidarity of countries like Denmark will also play a vital role. Democratisation takes time, but I believe that we will see a breakthrough in our lifetime.”

The Red-Green Alliance is a democratic socialist party with the aim of combining politics for social change with politics for solving the great environmental problems both on national and international level.

Christian Juhl, Development and Foreign Policy spokesperson, and Nikolaj Villumsen, Human Rights spokesperson on behalf of the Red Green Alliance (Christian.Juhl@ft.dk / +45 33 37 50 05  and Nikolaj.Villumsen@ft.dk / +45 33 37 50 07)

http://www.enhedslisten.dk/content/red-green-alliance

Press release: Africa Contact

Africa Contact congratulates the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) in Swaziland on their 30th Anniversary today, the 6th of July 2013.

During these thirty years, PUDEMO has been the main force of mass mobilisation in fighting for democracy and basic human rights in Swaziland, as well as in securing that all levels of the population are included in the political process.

PUDEMO’s success in doing so can be seen in the increasingly desperate measures of the regime of absolute monarch, King Mswati III – not least in the increasing level of repression that PUDEMO and other organisations fighting for multiparty democracy and socio-economic justice have to endure.

And Mswati’s regime is seemingly intent on further increasing repressive measures against PUDEMO and the democratic movement, as can be seen by Swaziland again increasing spending on the military even though Swaziland has no external enemies.

During an official visit to Denmark in mid-June, PUDEMO President Mario Masuku said he believed Swaziland would “see a breakthrough in our lifetime” in regard to the democratisation of the country. Africa Contact will certainly play our part in making this happen.

Bringing about democracy is not an end, however, but a means to achieve the kind of society that PUDEMO envisages, a society where the power is vested in the population, not in a small royal elite, a just society with a welfare state, free education and health care and other measures that ensure the welfare of all Swazis.

And there are many traps to be avoided in this process, as the lack of truly pro-poor policies and popular involvement in the running of neighbouring South Africa exemplifies. “We were entrapped by the neoliberal economy – or, as some today cry out, we sold our people down the river. All means to eradicate poverty, which was Mandela’s and the ANC’s sworn promise to the poorest of the poor, were lost in the process,” as former ANC minister Ronnie Kastrils put it recently.

To ensure that Swaziland does not find itself in the same situation it needs to retain its vocal and active civil society as a buffer against the corrupting effect of power. Democracy is not won once and for all. Even after the structures of a democratic society have been put in place democracy has to be won every day by the participation, critical and otherwise, of organisations and individuals who hold those in power to account.

Unity of purpose during a liberation struggle might be a strength in bringing about democracy, but it needs to be complemented by diversity of opinion – not least after democracy has been won!

Africa Contact amongst other things works to help capacity build vibrant and critical civil society organisations in Swaziland and other African countries to help challenge those in power – however much we might agree with them politically.

We believe in critical dialogue at all levels of society in all societies. We believe that in challenging each other’s opinions, we all end up the wiser. And we believe that the critical dialogue that is the basis for the democratic and vibrant structures of PUDEMO in its decision-and policy-making will serve the democratic movement in Swaziland well once Swaziland becomes a democracy.

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