It is not by coincidence that anyone who is critical of King Mswati’s regime or shares a different political view is labelled a member of the People’s United Democratic Movement(PUDEMO).
Even independent journalists who are critical of the regime are labelled PUDEMO members by political toddlers in the Mass Democratic Movement(MDM) and we don’t blame them because President Mario Masuku who inspired some of us, made the PUDEMO political brand popular.
As a result, many political activists who are affiliated to other political organizations are referred to as PUDEMO members in the royal circles because Mario Masuku became a symbol and the face of the Swazi struggle.
Around the year 2011, while working for one of the newspapers in eSwatini, I wrote a story after the then PUDEMO President Mario Masuku addressed workers during the Workers Day in Nhlangano.
Masuku came hard on Magistrate Florence Msibi who denied University student Maxwell Dlamini, the then SWAYOCO leader and others bail at the time when they were about to write their exams.
The headline of the story read;“Magistrate Florence Msibi a disgrace to the judicial system” and these were the direct words uttered by President Mario Masuku when addressing the workers.
I was not even sure if my editor would approve the story because it was highly critical.
Fortunately, the story was published and I remember receiving calls from politicians within the Tinkhundla system asking where I got the courage to publish such a story that was critical of the judiciary and the regime.
What surprised me about President Mario Masuku was that when he addressed the masses on stage, he would become a completely different person than when you interact with him personally outside politics, he was a very humble man.
One day, while walking along the Alister Miller Street, I saw Mario Masuku walking towards Rits Cafe, highly respectable people within the Tinkhundla system were bowing when greeting or shaking hands with him.He was once arrested and given a option to apologize to the King and be freed but he refused to apologize and did not even apply for bail despite being given an option by the Crown to apply unopposed.
Mario Masuku was very brilliant, he knew almost all the journalists one-by-one, even those who were captured, he would tell me “as you grow in journalism, be careful of journalist so and so, he is good but captured”.
I knew Mario Masuku at the time when I was also a staunch supporter of the oppressive Tinkhundla system.
Now, in my over fifteen years of journalism experience, I can safely say political activists like Mario Masuku shaped my journalism career, covering his speeches when addressing workers or political rallies was eye opening.
The late PUDEMO President Mario Masuku with Mswati’s police officers.