Tuesday, November 18, 2008


News of the prosecution of Mario Masuku, the first person to be arrested under Swaziland King, Mswati III’s war against his own people, is reverberating around the world.

Masuku was arrested on Saturday and appeared in court yesterday (17 November 2008).

Media organisations large and small across all continents have carried reports on the case. One from the Daily Telegraph in London particularly caught my eye.

Sebastien Berger, the newspaper’s Southern Africa Correspondent, wrote, ‘Mario Masuku, 56, the leader of the People's United Democratic Movement (Pudemo), is a Left-wing intellectual who has made much of King Mswati III’s extravagances, which include 13 wives, a palace for each, and a fleet of luxury cars.

‘But Africa’s last absolute monarch does not welcome alternative centres of power – like all political parties, Pudemo was banned from taking part in the country's general election in September.

‘Swaziland is one of the poorest countries in the world, and has one of its highest HIV infection rates. But King Mswati was still able to spend millions on the ‘40/40’ celebrations two months ago, marking his own birthday and the anniversary of independence from Britain.

‘Anger at the spectacle saw two small explosive devices detonate in the capital Mbabane, part of a series of such incidences in recent months, for which the banned Umbane People’s Liberation Army has claimed responsibility.

‘The authorities, though, appear to be seeking to convict Mr Masuku in connection with them. He appeared before magistrates in Siteki, 115 miles east of Mbabane, did not enter a plea, and was remanded in custody.

‘Mr Masuku was found guilty of treason in the mid-1980s, but the verdict was overturned on appeal’.

If this report is anything to go by the international community doesn’t see democrats such as Masuku as the problem. The problem is with King Mswati and his repressive regime.

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