People's United Democratic Movement

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People's United Democratic Movement
Insika Yenkhululeko Yemaswati
PresidentMlungisi Makhanya
Secretary-GeneralWandile Dludlu
Founded7 July 1983 (1983-07-07)
Youth wingSwaziland Youth Congress
IdeologyDemocratic socialism
Political positionLeft-wing
International affiliationProgressive Alliance[1]
Socialist International (consultative)
Colours     Green, Orange, Red and Black
Party flag
PUDEMO flag.jpg

The People's United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO; Swazi: Insika Yenkhululeko Yemaswati) is the largest opposition party in Eswatini. It is a democratic socialist party. Formed in 1983 at the University of Eswatini, it is led by Mlungisi Makhanya.[2] The Swazi government has been monitoring PUDEMO closely since it launched the Ulibambe Lingashoni ("Don't Let the Sun Set") campaign, which aims for a "total liberation" of Eswatini,[3] and has recently cracked down heavily on even small manifestations of support for PUDEMO, such as the death in custody of PUDEMO member Sipho Jele, who was arrested for wearing a PUDEMO t-shirt in May 2010.[4][5][6]


The People's United Democratic Movement was formed in 1983 at the University of Eswatini.[3][2]

Its 1985 manifesto stated that it was

"fully dedicated to creating a democratic Swaziland", that "the countries wealth shall be enjoyed by all citizens and shall be shared equally", that "the land shall be given to all those who work it", that there shall be "free, compulsory, universal and equal [education] for all children" and that "human rights shall be observed and respected".[7]

PUDEMO called for democratic reforms in 1988, 1990, and 1991. PUDEMO rejected King Mswati III's 1991 commission to review the tiNkhundla system, and the King's 1992 commission on electoral reform. King Mswati III responded by suspending the legislature, and began to rule by decree.[8]

The Swaziland Youth Congress claimed responsibility for a 6 February 1995 fire in the House of Assembly.[8][9]

PUDEMO held a campaign of strikes and civil disobedience in 1996.[8]

In 2000, PUDEMO President Mario Masuku was arrested for "insulting the king, sedition and treason."[10]

Pro-democracy protests took place in Eswatini in 2002, with "40% of Eswatini population believed to be on verge of starvation following poor harvests."[8]

At the 2003 elections in Eswatini only non-partisans were elected. In March 2005, the Eswatini High Court ruled that "political parties can not exist."[8]

In March 2006, PUDEMO members, including Bonginkosi Dlamini, the PUDEMO secretary-general, were charged with petrol bomb attacks.[8][11][12] In April 2007, "Six PUDEMO members [were] charged with sedition following protests on the anniversary of King Sobhuza II's royal decree banning political parties."[8]

In April 2008, PUDEMO's deputy President Gabriel Mkhumane was killed by criminals, according to the Swazi government. However, opposition supporters believe that he was assassinated by government operatives.[3]

The Umbane People's Liberation Army, described as "a secret militant group" linked to PUDEMO, claimed responsibility for a series of small bomb blasts in Eswatini in 2008.[13]

On 21 September 2008, Musa Dlamini and Jack Govender were killed while allegedly trying to bomb the Lozitha Bridge in an attempt to assassinate the King.[14] Although PUDEMO had "called for a more militant approach to achieving democracy ... [it] denied any part in the bombing.[15] However, at Musa Dlamini's funeral, PUDEMO President Mario Masuku was alleged to have verbally supported recent bombings of government institutions. Mario Masuku spent 340 days in prison before he was acquitted and discharged at the High Court on 21 September 2009.[16][17][18]

In May 2010, Sipho Jele, a PUDEMO member, was arrested for wearing a PUDEMO t-shirt, and later died in police custody.[4][5]

The Bhunya home of Alex LaNgwenya, a leader of PUDEMO's youth wing, the Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO), was destroyed in a bombing attack in 2010. "The Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008 was enacted soon after the incident, and PUDEMO and SWAYOCO were banned as terrorist organizations. Several members of PUDEMO and SWAYOCO were alleged to have carried out a bombing campaign and detained."[19]

PUDEMO's Deputy-President Sikhumbuzo Phakathi said the 2010 Swaziland Democracy Campaign "was launched in South Africa because in Swaziland all political activity is banned," adding:

"That makes it a criminal offense to belong to a political party," said Phakathi. "It makes it recently a terrorist act to belong to my organization, PUDEMO, which the government decided was a terrorist organization."[20]

From 2010 to 2011, attempts to add the history of PUDEMO to Eswatini's high school curriculum failed.[21][22]

In 2012, the Umbane People's Liberation Army participant Amos Mbedzi of South Africa was sentenced to "85 years in prison for high treason and terrorism" for his part in the 2008 bombing at Lozitha bridge.[13]

Also in 2012, Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini held a political debate with PUDEMO over Twitter, while her father, King Mswati III, continued his refusal to negotiate with PUDEMO on the grounds that they were terrorists.[citation needed]

PUDEMO was admitted into the Socialist International as a consultative member at the SI's spring congress on 4–5 February 2013.[23]

In 2014, PUDEMO President Mario Masuku and Swaziland Youth Congress leader Maxwell Dlamini were arrested during Labour Day celebrations.

In April 2014 PUDEMO General Secretary Mlungisi Makhanya was arrested for wearing a party t-shirt, and released on bail. Makhanya was wearing the t-shirt to protest the incarceration of journalist Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko.[24] According to IFEX, Maseko is alleged to have said: "MJ Dlamini and Jack Govender died for the liberation of this country. One day the Lozitha bridge will be called MJ and Govender bridge."[25]


  • The Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) is PUDEMO's youth wing.[21]
  • The Umbane People's Liberation Army has been described as "a secret militant group linked to the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)".[13]
  • PUDEMO became a consultative member of the Socialist International in February 2013.[23]
  • The Danish Red-Green Alliance began a partnership with PUDEMO in March 2013 which "aims to increase the capacity of PUDEMO to be a more visible and credible political force within and outside Swaziland."[26]
  • Solidarity organizations include the Swaziland Solidarity Network, based in South Africa,[27] which has stated its "unwavering commitment to total liberation of the people of Swaziland from the unjust and undemocratic system and the autocracy of the royal family that continues to plunder the national economy and abuse cultural and political institutions",[13] and the Swaziland Solidarity Network Canada.[28]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b "Factsheet on The People's United Democratic Movement". Think Security Africa. August 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Nxumalo, Donny (24 April 2008). "Who killed Pudemo leader?". Mail and Guardian. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Killed in Swaziland for wearing a t-shirt". Archived from the original on 3 September 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Times Of Swaziland". Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  6. ^ "ACTSA on various civil society organisations, including PUDEMO" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  7. ^ Kenworthy, Petr (29 June 2011). "Swaziland: uprising in the slip-stream of North Africa". Pambazuka News. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Boddy-Evans, Alstair. "Swaziland Timeline #2 -- Timeline of Swaziland from Independence to Present Day". Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  9. ^ Arnold, Guy. "Swaziland in 1995". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  10. ^ Limb, Peter (22 November 2000). "SWAZILAND: Strikes, protests shake monarchy". Green Left Weekly. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Swaziland". Freedom House. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  12. ^ "SWAZILAND: Senior PUDEMO official arrested for treason". IRIN Africa. 6 January 2006. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  13. ^ a b c d "SA man gets 85 for bid to kill Swazi king". IndepthAfrica. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  14. ^ "Swaziland: Bomb Blast Kills Two". IRIN - 22 September 2008. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  15. ^ "SWAZILAND: Bomb blast kills two". IRIN Africa. 22 September 2008. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  16. ^ Hager, Sarah (23 September 2009). "Mario Masuku Acquitted in Swaziland". Amnesty International USA. Retrieved 15 October 2009.
  17. ^ Nxumalo, Manqoba (22 September 2009). "Mario Masuku a free man". Times of Swaziland. Retrieved 15 October 2009.
  18. ^ Clottey, Peter (24 November 2008). "Swaziland's Opposition Leader Expected in Court Over Terrorism Charges". Voice of America. Retrieved 15 October 2009.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "SWAZILAND: Faceless bombers sow insecurity". IRIN Africa. 14 June 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  20. ^ "Swaziland Democracy Campaign Launched in South Africa". Voice of America. 21 February 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  21. ^ a b Mduduzi Magagula (29 November 2009). "PUDEMO in new school syllabus". Times Of Swaziland. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  22. ^ Sibisi, Vusi (3 March 2010). "New syllabus geared to brainwash Swazi child". Swaziland News. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  23. ^ a b "Decisions of the Council" (PDF). Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  24. ^ "Swaziland: Africa′s last absolute monarchy". Deutsche Welle. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  25. ^ "MISA condemns arrest of human rights lawyer". IFEX - Media Institute of Southern Africa. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  26. ^ "The Danish Red-Green Alliance and Swaziland's PUDEMO". Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy. 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  27. ^ Macdonell, Andrew. "People's United Democratic Movement - Swaziland: the Facebook revolution that wasn't ... for now, at least". The Caledonian Mercury. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  28. ^ "swazilandsolidaritynetworkcanada - PUDEMO". Retrieved 19 October 2014.

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