A rift has opened between the major opposition party in Swaziland and the most vocal of the prodemocracy movement’s organisations.
PUDEMO – the People’s United Democratic Movement – has suspended the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) and thrown it out of its offices.
The move comes after long-running arguments about the direction of the struggle for democracy in Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The SSN runs a Google forum in which many people in the past few months have been posting items critical of PUDEMO’s leadership. Often, the language in posts directed at some leaders of PUDEMO has been abusive.
Today (9 May 2012), in a statement, PUDEMO announced the indefinite suspension of the SSN, which it formed in 1997. It also reported that the office in Johannesburg, South Africa, where SSN is based, will be closed within seven days.
Its statement it said, SSN had ‘a systematic, well-orchestrated and deliberate plan to undermine, maliciously attack and insult PUDEMO as an organisation, its leadership, its structures and its most disciplined cadres, including the president.’
PUDEMO went on, ‘SSN Google forum has been used by certain elements to attack the integrity of the movement and its leadership with SSN leadership shockingly silent. We have held meetings, time and again, to engage soberly and avoid the point which SSN Google forum has pushed us to.
‘It is for that reason that we wish to state categorically that PUDEMO will not allow itself to be abused or be treated less than other organisations, to which most SSN comrades belong in South Africa or wherever.
‘We are also alarmed at the attacks on our genuine allies, particularly certain members of the tripartite alliance in South Africa by the recklessness of these elements, as well as on genuine forces for democracy in Swaziland, particularly TUCOSWA [Trade Union Congress of Swaziland] and SNUS [Swaziland national Union of Students] recently.’
The PUDEMO statement was posted on the SSN Google forum today.
Initial reactions from people posting to the SSN were of disbelief, but also a resolution to continue with criticism of PUDMO’s leadership.