The Swazi Peoples Charter

The Peoples Charter

As Adopted at the Peoples Summit

6 September 2012, Manzini


We the people of Swaziland drawn from, but not limited to, community based organisations, womens movements, youth and students, workers, political parties, faith based organisations, people with disabilities and other minority groups; have convened in this historic Peoples Summit at BOSCO Skills Centre in Manzini, the economic hub of Swaziland, to draft this Peoples Charter, an expression of how we want to be governed, and the urgent priorities for a new, people’s government.

This Charter is an expression of our aspirations and desire to be free from hunger, poverty, illiteracy, and all other forms of social, political and economic deprivation.

It is significant that the Charter is being made today, 6 September 2012, 44 years after we supposedly gained ‘freedom’ from British colonial rule. However, we have nothing to show for our so called freedom and independence. We continue to suffer the legacy of colonialism, underdevelopment and oppression which today manifests itself through a surrogate tinkhundla royal minority regime. 44 years later we have nothing to celebrate nor anything to dearly cherish as our own. Our independence remains a pipe dream, a mockery to the poor and heaven for the rich and well connected few. 1968 presented nothing but independence for the royal regime and untold suffering and repression to us the majority. We continue to believe that freedom for some is freedom for none.

The demands articulated below reflect the deep seated cries and frustrations of our people and arose from broad based, constructive and engaging discussions and debate about the current political and economic crisis and the future of our country. The People’s Summit provided an example of what can be achieved when ordinary Swazi’s from all walks of life and persuasions are provided with an opportunity to assess their needs and determine for themselves how they can be met. This represents the essence of democracy.

These are the genuine and representative demands of our people. They are created to inspire and deepen our mobilising and campaigning actions. They are not intended to be utopian, but are meant as concrete and practical expressions of what needs to be done to transform our country into the multiparty, people centred democracy we envisage

We demand a people’s government

  • There must be an end to the current repressive Tinkhundla state of governance and a new People’s Government drawing its legitimacy from an all inclusive multiparty democratic state and a new and democratic constitution that guarantees equal rights and responsibilities for all.
  • All structures, instruments and systems perpetuating royal minority rule and inherent corruption, favouritism and nepotism must be dismantled in favour of democratic systems of governance that will serve the interest of the people.
  • State sponsored violence and torture as well as the abuse of the security apparatus, intelligence and the judiciary for the protection of the royal minority must end, and instead serve the entire Swazi nation with equal dedication and respect for human rights.
  • The free flow of ideas and an open, independent, fair and broadly accessible media must be ensured.

We demand decent, quality jobs and a state led people’s centred economy

  • The state must play a leading role in the growing of the economy; the attainment of full employment, the creation of decent quality jobs, a decent living wage, the right to representation and minimum social security protection for all.
  • There must be democratisation of economic patterns of ownership from exclusive royal monopoly to broad based mass empowerment and inclusive growth and development. This must include nationalising Tibiyo and Tisuka to combine these resources with those of Swazi Bank to fund the development of the economy and the poor.
  • A comprehensive industrialisation policy must be developed that will put an end to the elite’s control over the economy and ensure basic accountability for the use of national resources.
  • The development of labour intensive jobs, investment opportunities and infrastructure development for economic growth and broad based participation in the economy must be prioritised.
  • A Workers Bank to service and develop workers and their families at cheap and affordable rates must be established.
  • The institutions governing industrial relations (Industrial Court, CMAC, etc.) must be strengthened.

We demand quality and affordable education, health and other social services for all!

  • Education must be codified as a basic human right for all Swazis and be relevant, compulsory, accessible, and free for all, from early childhood development through to primary, secondary and tertiary education as well as vocational training for workers. Dedicated resources must be set aside towards this end.
  • A competent, professional and well equipped national curriculum centre to develop relevant, dynamic and responsive curricula as necessitated by the developmental needs of Swazi society and the economy must be established.
  • There must be active engagement and participation of all stakeholders in the development and direction of education and training in our country, e.g. through PTSAs, industrial training bodies and other inclusive, representative structures.
  • 15% of the national budget must be allocated to health care to ensure free, accessible, quality health delivery for all.
  • Decent monthly social grants must be set aside for the unemployed, disabled and the elderly that enables them to live quality lives, with dignity.

We demand the full and equal participation of women in all aspects of society!

  • The continued subjugation, oppression and minor status of women that is characteristic of the current undemocratic, deeply patriarchal and sexist society, entrenched and perpetrated by the royal regime must end.
  • All Swazi women must be afforded equal access and opportunities, including access to basic resources like land, employment, credit facilities and other opportunities to advance their development.
  • Early childhood development must focus on the girl child to ensure her full and equal integration into Swazi society.

We demand genuine rural development and land reform!

  • A robust national plan to revive agriculture and the direct recapitalisation of poor farmers on Swazi nation land with state financing for seeds, fertilizer, ploughing; and the rebuilding of irrigation dams and infrastructure to restore their capacity to produce must be put in place.
  • Agrarian reform and shifts in the patterns of land and mineral ownership in order to improve on economic activity and agricultural productivity for job creation and food security through sustainable and environmentally friendly methods must be enforced.
  • Government must support local farmers and local farming communities to build collective cooperation towards enhanced food productivity, sustainable livelihoods and rural community participation in the development of the country.
  • Rural land that was taken away from poor farmers by Tibiyo, the colonial government and private companies without compensation must be returned.
  • The current autocratic tinkhundla local governance structures must be dismantled for more people centred, democratically elected and accountable structures of governance.
  • The preservation of our environment for future generations, including improving healthy living conditions in our communities must be enforced.

We demand equal rights, opportunities and recognition for people with disabilities and other minority groups!

  • Specific care must be taken of disabled members of society, through amongst other things establishing a special desk at parliamentary level, the setting up of a specific and decent social grant for the disabled, increasing the budget allocations to education of disabled children, the creation of disabled friendly buildings and infrastructure for easy access , as well as establishing and promoting an inclusive education system.
  • There must be an end to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and a constitutional right for people with different sexual preferences to be treated with equality, dignity and respect as afforded to all Swazis.

We demand development and support for young people and those active in the arts, sports and culture!

  • A specific and comprehensive policy for youth development with the active participation of all youth structures and formations, and the removal of media censoring in order to enable youth to access information freely must be developed.
  • Culture must be defined by Swazis and not by narrow, abusive interests of the royal elite.
  • There must be full and comprehensive support for creative work and the arts.
  • All sporting disciplines must enjoy the full support of a people’s government, ensuring the growth of players and the nurturing and harnessing of skills.

In conclusion

We endeavour to use these demands as a guiding and collective document for the next phase in our struggle towards freedom and democracy in our pursuit of a Peoples Government. We will strive for these ideals to be realised with all our might, in unity and in struggle, working together, until such time that Swaziland is a free and just country.

To this end we call for a people centred constitution drafting process in which these demands can be heard and advanced.

The realisation of these demands will require the utmost commitment, discipline and adherence to collective responsibility by the leadership of the mass democratic movement who must remain accountable to the mandates received from the people.