By Zwelethu Dlamini
The lifting of the ban on political parties is key to resolving the unrests that recently broke out in the country.
This was unanimously agreed on during a meeting of representatives of political parties, the church, labour, business, women’s groups, youth, students, civil society and concerned citizens in the aftermath of the violent protests last week by pro-democracy campaigners.
It was agreed that the key demand of the people and political role-players in the country is and still remains that of a fully-fledged multiparty political dispensation as the ultimate act of restoring power back to the people as was the case prior to April 12, 1973.
In a statement, stakeholders were unanimous that the ban on political parties has dragged for too long and attempts to resolve it locally in line with the Constitution proved futile. Now, they are calling on regional and international intervention in facilitating the change from the current system of governance to multiparty democracy.
This they said such would be achieved by the unbanning of political parties and those that are regarded as proscribed entities. They said it was after this revocation of the 1973 decree that an all-inclusive dialogue can proceed.
“We would like to point out to the delegates and the international community that the current turmoil in the country, showing up as social and economic upheavals leading to violence and insecurity are a result of a longstanding political stalemate. The underlying problem is thus political in nature and requires a political solution that is beyond the ambit of the current constitutional framework or other local structure. Existing structures render futile any attempts to resolve it via constitutional means as they are severely constricted and unworkable,” partly reads the statement.
They also called for a transitional authority to oversee government and reform of institutions, laws and processes leading up to the first multiparty democratic elections.
“The transitional authority will be drawn from a multi-stakeholder platform representing the broad church that is eSwatini’s society and their primary task will be to level the playing field,” further stated the broad stakeholders.
The statement also calls for a democratic constitution which will provide for, among other things a future governance framework based on a multiparty political dispensation where political parties can contest power in a free, fair and credible election that satisfies international standards and norms. The victorious political parties should form government with full executive authority.
“This will guarantee long term peace and stability in the country and allow citizens to move forward with full enjoyment of the right to self-determination and other rights enshrined in international protocols,”
They agreed that the Constitution must be based on at least five pillars which include: separation of powers, justiciable bill of rights, equality before the law, gender parity and youth participation and supremacy of the Constitution.
“We thus call upon the SADC delegates to impress upon the authorities and the SADC structures the need to facilitate the following to break the deadlock: an all-inclusive, and mediated political dialogue led by SADC and underwritten by the African Union, the Commonwealth, the United Nations and or other such body of similar stature as may be agreed by the parties. All parties to this political dialogue process should come to the table as equals, with no one party enjoying superior legal status,” stated the broad stakeholders.
The following organizations and entities were represented in the meeting:
Foundation for Socio-economic Justice (FSEJ)
Federation of eSwatini Business Community (FESBC)
Council of Swaziland Churches (CSC)
Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA)
Swaziland Democratic Nurses’ Union (SWADNU)
Peoples’ United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO)
Swaziland Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM)
Economic Freedom Fighters of Swaziland (EFF-Swaziland)
Institute of Democracy and Leadership (IDEAL)
Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly (SRWA)
Swaziland Peoples’ Unemployed Movement (SUPMO)
Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF)
National Allied Public Sector Workers Union (NAPSAWU)
Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS)
Swaziland Alternative Policy Institute (SAPI)
Swaziland Concerned Church Leaders (SCCL)
One Billion Rising Campaign
Federation of Swaziland Trade Unions (FESWATU)
Oxfam South Africa
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).
Zwelethu Dlamini is an IJ Hub fellow attached to Inhlase Centre for Investigative Journalism