The following is the acceptance speech made by Mario Masuku, president of Swaziland’s People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) at the Democracy Awards, in Denmark, 15 March 2010.
I am honoured to accept this democracy award as conferred on me today. Due to many reasons, I could not personally make it to be there with you physically.
The giving of this award and my acceptance of the same is a great departure from the way people and the world has viewed the struggle of the people of Swaziland for the past 37 years. Our movement PUDEMO has continued to wage a peaceful struggle against a very violent and brutal regime.
As we speak today, there are many Swazis who are forced out of the country due to the political and economic situation. Our movement and all the democratic forces of Swaziland under the banner of the Swaziland United Democratic Front-SUDF are committed to building a democratic state that respects the will of the majority.
We are aware that Denmark is among the major donors to the kingdom of Swaziland. The very generous donations that you send out there are not used for the benefit of the people but a few corrupt elements within government. We therefore call upon you to use your influence in the European Union to exert political and economic pressure on the ruling elite in Swaziland. We call on you to apply targeted sanctions that will restrict the travel of the oppressive regime to your countries. We call on you to support the voice of the people of Swaziland in their call for democracy. Stop selling weapons to Swaziland. We call on you to support the people’s movement- PUDEMO.
I accept this award on behalf of the million Swazis, 70% of which live below the poverty line, 26.2 % of which are HIV positive, 40 % of which are unemployed and generally a nation in need of immediate serious interventions. My people want democracy, peace and stability. And the current regime gives them more poverty and brutalization. This is their award in recognition of their resilience in the face of harassment. It is in recognition of the struggles waged by the rural people who are evicted from their land. It is in recognition of the humble people who have been deported out of the country for daring to stand up against abuse of human rights, the kids who go to school without food, the patients who go to hospital to await their death, the workers who serve our country yet are not rewarded, the urban poor who occupy the sprawling slums of our towns. This is for them.
Lastly we take this opportunity to salute the people of Denmark for recognising the work done by not myself but the collective struggling people of Swaziland as led by their liberation movement, PUDEMO. We hope this award will inspire us to be more focused and decisive. We will continue to move forward. And as a movement we have always said that our door is open for negotiations but the government refuses to recognise us as the people’s liberation movement instead they have passed a law which declares us as a terrorist organisation. But we are happy that the world cannot be fooled.
Our demands are clear:
Unban political parties
Respect the rule of law
Respect women and children’s rights
Unconditional return of all exiles
Multiparty democratic elections
A democratic constitution for the nation
End to corruption, nepotism
End to the brutalization and killing of unarmed civilians by the state security forces
We thank you for your gesture, and we are confident it will have the desired impact in instilling some sense in the minds of the powers that be in Swaziland.