One of the factors that delay or undermine political salvation in the journey to democracy is division and the battle for power within political alliances.
The objective behind the establishment of the Political Parties Assembly(PPA) among others, was to bring the various political parties together to speed-up the process of facilitating democratic reforms, however, PPA leaders must guard against elements whose intention is plant division among the alliance.
Firstly, it is important to recognize the role played by PUDEMO in fighting for democracy in this country, their members were arrested, tortured and some are struggling in exile. Mario Masuku, the then PUDEMO President is one of the few surviving political leaders who’s suffering under the hands of the oppressive government is well documented, he must be honored while still alive. We have individuals like Lucky Lukhele who’s Swaziland Solidarity Network(SSN) has beenand continues tocreate awareness around the world regarding the struggles of our people.These individuals and organizational efforts are well documented, no sane man can dispute the role of PUDEMOinthe country’s struggle for democracy.
But PUDEMO must refrain from being a political bully, their huge role in the struggle for democracy does not mean they own the people, all political parties have played different roles in advancing the wheel for democracy.
Jan Sithole, the President of the Swaziland Democratic Party(SWADEPA) ideas of Free Primary Education(FPE) and the payment of elderly grants while he was Secretary General of the then Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions(SFTU) were adopted and implemented by government. Tinkhundla is one of the weakest political systems that strives by stealing ideas of political activists because its leader, King Mswati lacks vision. Today, eMaswati are told that the Free Primary Education and the payment of elderly grants remains the ideas of Mswati when Swazis like Jan Sithole were once detained while fighting for social, political and economic justice. This means the struggle for democracy is a journey and different roles played by the various political leaders should not be undermined.
While in Parliament, Jan Sithole managed to convince MPs to understand multi-party democracy and series of motions under his name were censored by the captured media. This was a strategy by the Tinkhundla system to portray him as silent in the eyes of the people. As you read this, I can confidently confirm that in the current Parliament, some MPs are pushing for multi-party democracy behind the scenes, this work could be attributed to Jan Sithole who became an advocate of democracy within the system while he was an MP.It is only the politically ignorant will label Jan Sithole as a sellout because they don’t understand his strategies of advocating for democracy. PUDEMO, NNLC or SPLM must not expect SWADEPA to adopt their strategies, every political parties work according to its manifests and or strategies.
If it was SWADEPA’s political strategy for Jan Sithole to join elections so he can understand the strength and weaknesses of the Tinkhundla system, then he must be commended, because now he understands the international processes to facilitate democratic reforms.Jan Sithole’s approach to democratic reforms is dialogue and other political parties must embrace that.
On the other hand, the history of the Ngwane National Liberation Congress(NNLC) whose current President is Sibongile Mazibuko is well documented and other political parties must respect thatas well. The political vibrancy of Sibongile Mazibuko with her experience in leading the Swaziland National Association of Teachers(SNAT)beingone of the largestunionsin the country should be put in good use by the PPA.
Even the role of Sive Siyinqaba ‘Sibahle Sinje’ is fundamental because their members work directly with the people and therefore they command huge influence.If some members of Sibahle managed to join and win elections, it means they have a role to play in the democratic process and this should be used to strengthen the PPA.It is very important for youthful political activists to understand and embrace the role of veteran political leaders who will give them guidance. PUDEMO President Mlungisi Makhanya is a young leader who doubles as a successful businessman.However, he needs the advices of leaders like Mario Masuku, Jan Sithole and Sibongile Azbuka where necessary.
Furthermore, ‘Sibahle Sinje’ is dominated by veteran political leaders who fully understand the Tinkhundla system, their role in the PPA must not compete must complement the desire of youthful leaders like Mlungisi Makhanya to democratize this country.
Sibahle is dominating Parliament and the PPA will definitely need the support of MPs when petitioning government. It is very important for political leaders not to point figures on who did what in the past, the objective here is to transform the country for a better life for allhenceonly elections will decide which political party is popular among the people.
I may not mention all the political parties, big or small, but my opinion here suggests that political entities must collaborate and embrace each other.
In conclusion, let me emphasise that unity is vital in every alliance, the interest of the people must always supersede individual interests of each political party. The role of the media in this regard is to disseminate information to enable citizens to make informed decisions regarding issues affecting their welfare. As journalists, we are not politicians and we must strive to remain neutral but express our political opinions where necessary.
SWADEPA President Jan Sithole