The leader of Swaziland’s main opposition party says it’s about time the Swazi government comes around genuinely to discuss ways of transforming the country into a democracy. Mario Masuku of the opposition People’s United Movement (PUDEMO) says the country has come under intense scrutiny from world leaders about its practice of democracy. PUDEMO recently held a seminar to look at its roadmap towards democracy in Swaziland.
Mario Masuku spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the party’s meeting.
“In June we had a strategic meeting to look at the way forward for the democratization of our country. But recently we had a forum at the Chris Hani institute at COSATU House in Johannesburg, where we were looking at a document. The document that we were looking into is called the roadmap to a new democratic Swaziland. We believe that we need a proper consultative forum where we would discuss the roadmap,” Masuku said.
He explains what constitutes the roadmap of the party.
“The roadmap itself constitutes two important sections: The first one is the strategic liberation plan of our country. And the second and last is the democratic governance and social transformation plan,” he said.
Masuku notes that since PUDEMO’s inception, the country has seen some significant transformation.
“The first is that we have been seeking a constitutional multiparty democracy through the will of the people. Now, all these years, we’ve been calling for consultations and open national dialogue with the Swazi government. Well, the regime in Swaziland has constantly refused to have dialogue with us. However, we believe that the pressure that we have put on the regime has caused them to listen to an extent that a constitution has been put together although we do not believe in its process. PUDEMO is also using the international community to put pressure on the regime,” Masuku said.
He says PUDEMO will continue to press home its demands for open dialogue with the Swazi government. But the party will not shy away from using other stringent measures to achieve its goal.
“Our policy is that we are prepared to come to a constructive dialogue with the regime. However, we have got other pillars of the struggle to utilize. The one is that of mass mobilization, and the other one, of course, which we do not want to get into, is that of a possible confrontation. We do not look forward to arrive at that stage,” he said.
Masuku reiterated PUDEMO’s preparedness to have an open negotiation with the government.
“Right now, PUDEMO is part of civil society and there is an organization called the National Constitutional Assembly, which is trying to organize a dialogue between the government and PUDEMO. We hope the government would attend tomorrow’s meeting so that proper and constructive dialogue takes place,” he said.
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