Swaziland
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PPA CONDEMNS CONTINUING WITH ELECTIONS DECISION

MBABANE - The Political Parties Assembly (PPA) has condemned the decision to continue with the national elections ahead of a national dialogue.

PPA is an organisation formed at the height of the 2021 political unrest to unite political parties and bring uniformity in the calls for democracy in the country. The organisation’s leadership is an organisational format currently headed by the Economic Freedom Fighters Swaziland (EFFSWA) as chairperson and Ngwane National Liberation Congress (NNLC) as the Deputy Secretariat. Head of Secretariat, Inhlava Party, was suspended leaving the ropes for NNLC. The PPA is made of different political parties including the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), NNLC, EFFSWA, Sive Siyinqaba, Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) and Inhlava Political Party.

revealed

Thami Hlatshwayo of NNLC revealed that the organisation had taken astand to call for the national dialogue to held before the national elections. He said the organisation took a stand to support the Boksburg Declaration, which placed the importance of having a national dialogue ahead of any election. He said the organisation was against the election and feel it was not a necessity as the country needed to solve the political crisis first. He disassociated the organisation from reports that appeared on social media platforms suggesting that the organisation had changed its stance on the election. He stated that, though they respected their members’ congress resolution, the PPA as a collective was still aligned to the Boksburg Declaration. The declaration was crafted in collaboration with the Multi-Stakeholders Forum (MSF) and Hlatshwayo said it was proof that the two organisations were aligned.

aligned

He said his organisation never spoke in forked tongue or changed tune on the matter, but was respectful of organisational ideologies of its membership. The Times SUNDAY quoted Hlatshwayo saying the PPA leadership took a neutral position on the issue of the election to allow all ideologies to exist. He stated that the organisation was not in a position to choose or make decisions for the members on issues of ideology. He emphasised that each of their members were bound by their respective parties’ resolutions and it would not be democratic for the PPA to take a stand that could have divided the membership. Hlatshwayo said the organisation’s main goal was to attain freedom and democracy for the people of Eswatini. He said they were not particular on the manner in which such a goal was achieved, but encouraged their members to use all possible ways to fight the current system. “First we need to establish that the PPA is constituted by different political parties and these parties are autonomous organisations and have the power to make their own decisions. Each party has its own congress where they develop their charter and make their own resolutions. Some of the parties under our umbrella made a congress decision to participate in the upcoming election while others made resolutions to oppose the election.

congress

If we were to take a stand, against one or the other, we would risk dividing the organisation. We encourage our members to stand by their congress resolution so that we are seen not to be meddling within the party lines,” said Hlatshwayo. In a statement shared after the article, he said the PPA would continue educating, mobilising and organising emaSwati for total liberation. He stated that they would continue with their programme of urging the international community to isolate the country and support the calls for democracy. “As an organisation we strongly condemn the decision by the government to continue with organising its Tinkhundla elections in 2023, in total disregard of the political conflict, whereby the public and international community continues to call for a national political inclusive dialogue.   Our commitment and conviction remains unshaken to the Boksburg Declaration and the terms of reference for the national dialogue and political negotiations signed December 5, 2021.   

The PPA doesn’t believe that Thabani Nkomonye, Muzi Mmema, Mlandvo Khumalo, Thulani Maseko and many more Swazis died for Tinkhundla to be reformed. These martyrs of our struggle paid the ultimate sacrifice so that all emaSwati can be politically, economically, culturally and spiritually free. We restate our firm commitment to the Five Point Plan, as adopted by the mass democratic movement. In closing let us make our statement clear, that Tinkhundla as a system of government is a failed system that has no place in a democratic society,” reads the statement. The statement, which was confirmed by Hlatshwayo as authentic, further questioned the mandate of the voters to form a government and parliament under the current system of government. The PPA said the people’s powers were limited over the three arms of government.

Confirming the statement, Hlatshwayo said their call had always been on the supremacy of the dialogue process of the election. He said they were expecting that government would uphold their promise for a national dialogue before opening the polls. The five point plan by the MSF and PPA include the unbanning of political parties, the need for a transitional executive authority, a new democratic constitution, a multiparty dispensation in the country and an all-inclusive mediated political dialogue. Individual political parties expressed mixed feelings toward the announcement of the election dates. While some were excited on the election process, others were not happy and others said the election should have been announced after a national dialogue.  

process

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) launched the registration process on Wednesday May 10, 2023 marking the beginning of the national election process. The opening of the polls follows a nation-wide civic and voter education exercise conducted by the commission from the month of March. The registration exercise will be followed by the voter validation process and nomination before the primary and secondary election respectively. The election process will be concluded in September 29, 2023. Announcing the dates of the 2023 General Election, EBC Chairman Prince Mhlabuhlangeni Dlamini encouraged the nation to cascade to the polling station for registration. He said it was important for everyone to utilise their right to vote for a legitimate government without fear or favour. He stated that the commission was committed to delivering a free and fair election process.

The Swaziland Liberation Movement (SWALIMO) was among the first political parties to declare their participation in the national election. The political movement aims at backing community candidates in the upcoming elections as compared to fielding their own members for nomination. SWALIMO declared that their intention to contest in the upcoming election but kept their strategy close to their chest except that they want to have at least 40 Members of Parliament (MPs) in the 2023 to 2028 parliament. The clash of polarised ideologies regarding the elections among the mass democratic movement became evident after the declaration to participate was made by SWALIMO President Mduduzi Simelane.

Simelane went on to field his wife Nomalungelo LaZwide Simelane in the 2022 by-elections to replace him as Siphofaneni constituency MP. Simelane lost his seat after evading arrest and skipping the country to exile following a warrant of arrest issued against him and colleagues Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza from Hosea and Mthandeni Dube of Ngwempisi. The three MPs faced charges under the Suppression of Terrorism Act, 2008. Simelane’s co-accused were arrested and charged under the Act and their case is currently on trial.