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By Peter Kenworthy, Communications and Project Officer
After some initial hiccups, the Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) finally assembled last weekend to hold an eagerly awaited congress. The congress was held, amongst other things, to ensure that a new leadership was in place to initiate a capacity-building project with Africa Contact.
The delay in holding the congress was due mainly to internal disagreements and the recent formation of a united labour movement, and members of the executive now expressed hope that the newly founded labour movement would be the “main vehicle of the SUDF”. Other members of the democratic movement welcomed the merger as a step forward in the struggle for democracy in Swaziland. A representative of the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice called it “a giant leap forward in as far as unifying the trade union fraternity in the country is concerned”, and further stated that “no earthly force can stand in the way of unity”.
One of the main themes of the congress was unity and the democratisation of Swaziland. According to one of the newly elected members of the SUDF’s executive, the organisation is “aiming for a multi-party dispensation, which we think can only be realized through the concerted efforts of member organisations”.
The newly elected leadership of the SUDF is as follows:
Chairperson: Sipho Kunene (SFL)
Deputy Chairperson: Mphandlana Shongwe (Swaziland Consumer Forum)
Secretary: Mduduzi Gina (SFTU)
Deputy Secretary: Samkeliso Ginindza (SNUS)
Treasurer: Jabu Shiba (SFL)
Organizer: Themba Mabuza (INSIKA)
The SUDF was founded in 2008 and is the mouthpiece and hub of the democratic forces in Swaziland. Its membership includes an array of organisations, including the main illegal political parties (all political parties are illegal in Swaziland), the unions and the student’s organisation. In total, the membership of these organisations exceeds 100.000.
The SUDF’s project with Africa Contact will capacity-build SUDF through the implementation of improved conflict-solution mechanisms, improved transparency in the decision-making processes of the organisation, improved internal communication to improve the level of information of both local and international actors, and the mobilisation of local independent CBO’s and NGO’s by way of information dissemination on the subjects of democracy and economical and social rights.
The overall objective of the project is to create a broadly founded, inclusive and democratic organisation that will enable the population to participate actively in, and influence, the social, economical and political processes of Swaziland.