MR. MARIO MASUKU, THE PRESIDENT OF THE PEOPLE’S UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT (PUDEMO), SWAZILAND RECEIVES A DEMOCRACY AWARD FROM DANISH STUDENTS.
The President of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), the banned national liberation movement in Swaziland, Mr. Mario T. Masuku finally received an award given to him by the students of Denmark early this week. The award was given to him earlier in the year but he could not attend. The award was handed over to the President by Mr. Motern Nielsen from the Afrika Kontakt, the former anti-apartheid group that assists people and groups advocating for fundamental human rights and socio-economic empowerment of people in the developing world.
Mr. Masuku is vocal in the struggle for the democratization of his country that is currently ruled by King Mswati III, the world’s only surviving absolute monarch, ranked among the top 15 richest Monarchs the world. Mr Masuku was charged with high treason in 1990 but was acquitted after spending a year behind bars. He was again charged with sedition and subversion in 2000, kept in solitary confinement and yet again acquitted in 2002. His last arrest was in 2008 wherein he was charged under the notorious Suppression of Terrorism Act where again he was kept in solitary confinement in the maximum security prison for a year. He was subsequently acquitted by the high court. People, including students from Denmark, had tried paying Masuku a visit while in jail, but the Swaziland government refused them entry.
In between these arrests Mr Masuku had his house ransacked by the joint army and police contingents; his family harassed and party documents confiscated. While in prison the state had refused him private consultation with his physician and was not allowed sunshine or exercise outside his prison cell.
Below is what the President said on receipt of the ward:
It is good and comforting to be here today and receive this great award from these great people of Denmark. On behalf of the homeless, the foodless, the educationless, the healthless, the jobless, the landless and the voiceless of our poorest, I feel humbled and greatly honored to receive this award. Yes, it feels good to be with such honorable men and women at this function, but my soul drags me to the streets with street vendors; the hungry and street children of our lofty cities; to be in the factories with the toiling, exploited and underpaid workers; to be in the dry unproductive rainless plains and valleys in the rural areas.
That is where I belong; for my fellow citizens carry the heavy york of oppression from the authoritarian regime imposing itself on the helpless masses in the guise of loyalty. We all live a life of ‘no alternative’ in a land where culture has been politicized and commercialized and where dissent means seclusion or, as recently has been seen, DEATH!
But I extend our honor and respect to those brave comrades in Denmark, South Africa and the world over for their unshaken solidarity with the suffering people of Swaziland. We assure them that history has shown that the oppressed people eventually liberate themselves. Swaziland cannot be an island of dictatorship in a sea of democracy!
Demagogues do not start out as demented demons. Humanity has had plenty of them in the past, and even now, and when they set out on their rise to the top, nobody sees the danger that is coming. Most times, when society does eventually wake up, it is far too late and the damage is done. Often, they find their way into people’s hearts as good orators, born-again souls and inspirational ‘God created’ leaders.
When I was arrested I was prepared to suffer the consequences and would do all to protect the national movement and never to disown it during the trial. To me it was clear that this was less a trial in law than a confrontation in politics. I did not concern myself with the legalities, but the politics of the charge and my attitude to the indictment was to accept it as a generalized allegation, leaving the precise nature of the legal charge to emerge in the course of evidence, thus treating the indictment more as a statement of overall political allegation than a criminal charge formulated in terms of the law.
Asked to plead in the witness box, if I had to, I would have said “It is the Swaziland government that should be in the dock and not me… I plead not guilty.”
At numerous occasions I’m asked if I hate the police for arresting me, the government personnel and the prison warders who ill-treated me, and my answer is that “Yes, it is natural human instinct for the oppressed to feel some sense of vengeance towards the oppressor. But I have opted to hate nobody, to despise no one but the system of government that has created such monsters.
Our Core Demands are listed below:-
· Allowing for the leveling of the political playfield.
· Creating a climate for the independence of the media.
· Unconditional return of all exiles.
· Unbanning of Political Parties.
· Dialogue towards a Constitutional multi-party dispensation.
· The scrapping of the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008, and the Public Sector Bill.
· Implementing of ‘smart sanctions’ on the country’s leaders.
The road to any liberation takes more than just rhetoric. Always remember that there is no GAIN without PAIN, no CROWN without the CROSS and no BIRTH without TRAVAIL.
The hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievement, but moral acts – to return love for hate, to include the excluded.
On behalf of my fellow countrymen and women, comrades in the PUDEMO structures, members of the Swaziland United Democratic Front, I humbly accept this Award.
I thank you.
Issued by Head of PUDEMO Publicity
Zakhele Mabuza+268 7607 3453 (Manzini)