The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is deeply saddened by the passing of a gallant and revolutionary leader of our time, Comrade Mario ‘Bhambatha’ Masuku. Comrade Masuku lowered his flag as the long-standing President of the banned political entity, the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), after serving the movement for over 22 years. Masuku passed away on the 11th of January 2021, at the age of 70.
Former President Mario Masuku played an outstanding role in the evolution of the people’s revolution for democracy and social justice in Swaziland, and he is amongst the key figures that contributed immensely to the growth and development of PUDEMO. He led PUDEMO from the underground between 1983 and 1990, actively building an organ of political consciousness in advancing the people’s struggle. Part of his contribution to PUDEMO was building mass democratic underground structures.
Under his leadership, the COSATU National Congress took a resolution to lobby the ANC government to offer PUDEMO diplomatic status. The active participation, dedication and commitment of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and uFasimba in the struggle for democracy against the atrocious regime in Swaziland, especially the formation of the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN), is as a result of dedicated and committed activists both in the SACP and in Swaziland, of which Comrade Mario Masuku is part of such a caliber of rare activists.
The atrocious regime arrested, charged, and detained Comrade Mario Masuku on many occasions. This is precisely because he confronted the evil regime whenever activists were arrested, or even when civilians were killed merely for wearing political party t-shirt. His activism exposed the regime as he was arrested on many occasions without any form of charge apart from being an activist. Throughout his tenure, Masuku remained the victim of a dictatorial Tinkundla system that serves to silence any opposition. He will be remembered as an extraordinary servant of the people, and a resilient leader par excellence who was very well recognised internationally as an icon of the Swazi struggle and a giant voice on political struggles in the Southern African region.
Comrade Masuku will forever be remembered as a noble leader of a movement that changed Swaziland politics for good. Successive PUDEMO leaders will have big shoes to fill. The best way to understand the emergence of Mario Masuku as a leader and face of struggle in Swaziland one must be able to locate him as a product of a series of events that produced what is today accepted as the legitimate voice for democracy in Swaziland – PUDEMO.
The federation conveys its deepest and heartfelt sympathies to the Masuku family, the Swazi people, progressive forces in support of the Swazi struggle, colleagues, and friends of the late Comrade Masuku. We wish them strength and comfort during this difficult time. The most befitting way to honour Comrade Masuku’s legacy is to continue with the fight for a free and democratic Swaziland. COSATU continues to pledge its commitment and solidarity to the people of Swaziland. We call on all progressive forces to agitate for the economic and political isolation of the Mswati government. This campaign needs to be strengthened and intensified so that the exploited and oppressed people of Swaziland can be freed from the shackles of the Mswati regime.
Lala ngoxolo Baba.
Issued by COSATU
COSATU Head Office
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