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I remember the words of the late PUDEMO President Mario Masuku when I joined the media, regime ‘groomed’ the people to hate political parties.

Tuesday, 1st August, 2023

“I don’t normally respond to questionnaires from the media because journalists were banned from reporting about PUDEMO, if they do, they were told to scandalize the organization.But I have read some of your articles, you seem to be different and I hope you will write exactly what I said”.

In May 2011 Mario Masuku, the then President of the People’s United Democratic Movement(PUDEMO), addressed the Workers Day celebration at the King Sobhuza Memorial Stadium in Nhlangano, I was covering the event as a journalist for the now defunct Swazi Mirror newspaper,after leaving the Swazi Observer.

The PUDEMO President came hard on the regime including Magistrate Florence Msibi, who denied the then University student leader, now PUDEMO Deputy Secretary General Maxwell Dlamini bail despite the fact that, Dlamini was about to write exams.

One of the headlines of my articles after covering the event read “Magistrate Florence Msibi, a disgrace to the judicial system-PUDEMO President”.

Those articles caught the attention of Mario Masuku and he asked me where I got the courage to publish exactly what he said at the Stadium, he asked if I was not afraid of being arrested.

Well, I thanked my editor for allowing those articles to go through because at the time, it wasn’t easy, King Mswati’s regime was taking over, seizing control of the media.

Thereafter, I negotiated an interview with Mario Masuku and he gave me a ‘ear’ and even motivated me to continue writing, he mentioned though that it won’t be easy to practice as a journalist in a country where the media is fully censored.

The media was mandated to scandalize PUDEMO and ensure that the people hate the organization, I remember, even Mario Masuku was banned from writing articles for the Times as a columnist.

But the most inspiring experience about PUDEMO is that the organization survived State persecution, some of us who spoke to Mario Masuku and other leaders in our line of duty and received political motivation.

We fully understand why even the so called new political leaders promote hatred against PUDEMO, they are suffering from Tinkhundla dictatorship hangover.

We have seen some of those who were mocking PUDEMO dumping the struggle within two(2) years after the June 2021 unrest, one day I will send questions to a former activist who said “his organization was a government-in waiting” and asked why he decided to dump the struggle before forming a Cabinet.

It’s a long walk to freedom, these days even us, as independent journalists we are facing attacks from people who protray themselves as comrades.

But, because we understand the political journey and we have interacted with different characters, we are eagerly waiting to see if those hypocrites will run the race like Mario Masuku, Jan Sithole, Sibongile Mazibuko, Mpandlana Shongwe and others.

Despite the personal interactions with Mario Masuku, I once sent a questionnaire to him demanding answers with regards to the alleged misappropriation of donor funds by PUDEMO and he responded to in a very professional manner.

But that questionnaire did not create enmity between Masuku and myself as a journalist, that’s why we will never take serious any political leader who thinks being questioned by journalists on allegations of corruption is a fight.

Any political leader who demonstrates ‘symptoms of arrogance’ is a dictator-in waiting and we will never allow our sufferings for all these years to be hijacked by lunatics. 

As a result, if it calls for us to halt the calls for democratic reforms temporarily until we ensure that such elements are dealt with, we must never be afraid to do that, leaders must be questioned.

As journalists,one of our major interests in amplifying the calls for democracy is “media freedom”, once we see elements of dictatorship and harassment of journalists, we will not hesitate to dismantle and halt everything until we drive the agenda of true democracy.

We don’t want a new dictator here and we will ensure that any leader who will take over this country respect media freedom and subscribe to democratic principles. 

The new Chairperson of the MultiStakeholder Forum(MSF) Sicelo Mngomezulu must ensure that a coalition based on democratic foundations is established.

I have mentioned before that the media, even though we support the calls for a democratic Swaziland, should not be perceived as part of the pro-democracy movement, it’s an institution that seeks to promote transparency, openness and accountability.

The duty of the media, among others, is to question leaders and hold them accountable, President Mario Masuku died without attacking any journalist even though the media was criticizing PUDEMO.

In conclusion, let me urge PUDEMO leaders to continue driving the agenda for democracy, along the way we will see hypocrites dumping the struggle because it’s not an easy journey.

Before dumping the struggle, of course, we expect these hypocrites to first insult PUDEMO and journalists that they are delaying the agenda for freedom, we are now used to that.

Furthermore, let me warn those hypocritical political leaders who always unleash their members to insult us everytime we report positively about PUDEMO, the Swaziland (eSwatini) largest political party. 

Even King’s Interpreter Sihle Dlamini labelled me as a PUDEMO member, we will report about PUDEMO until those who seek to control the media understand that independent journalists are not begging for breakfast, lunch and supper from them, who are they to tell the media what to and not to publish?.

Even the ‘half comrades and half Tinkhundla pro-democracy leaders’ must know that the independent media does not submit to their authority or political feelings.

We will criticize PUDEMO if there’s a need to do so, not to balance feelings of lunatics who will one day wake-up in the morning and inform the Nation that they have dumped the struggle.

I remember the words of the late PUDEMO President Mario Masuku when I joined the media, regime ‘groomed’ the people to hate political parties.
The late PUDEMO President Mario Masuku surrendered by the police.