Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Incarceration of Mario Masuku 2002

Executive Council

8th July 2002
P.O. Box 187

Dear Sir or Madam:

Subject: The continued incarceration of PUDEMO President, Comrade Mario Themba Masuku by the Government of Swaziland November 2000 - July 2002 (21 Months without conclusion of trial)

1.0 Fraternal greetings.

Kindly receive our humble greetings in the name of our People's struggle for democracy and social justice in our motherland, Swaziland.

On behalf of the Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), a movement fighting for the restoration of democracy and equality in our land, let me express our indebtedness to all of our fellow citizens and friends both from within and outside the country for showing solidarity and support to both the President's family and the Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) during the continued incarceration of Comrade Mario Masuku.

It is heartening to note that we have brothers and sisters who, because of their belief in human liberties continued to give moral support to our legitimate cause. May our God richly bless you for your good hearts.


As you are aware, Comrade Mario Masuku has been incarcerated for over twenty-one months now, having been arrested in November 2000 by the Swazi regime.

He is being kept at the Matsapha Maximum prison under extremely harsh conditions.

We are thankful to the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHS), Swaziland for taking up the case.

2.1 The Crime.

He was charged for a serious crime of SEDITION. There are two counts.
Count 1
This is said to have been committed on the 7th November 2000 at Mbabane old bus rank.

According to the state, Cde Mario Masuku is accused of the crime of SEDITION, which is said to be in contravention of section 4-(1) b Act 46 of 1938 as amended.

He is said to have been " unlawfully and intentionally and in the presence of numerous members of the public and His Majesty's subjects, uttered the following words" … " Phansi ngembuso WaMswati".

The state translates this into the English Language to mean away with His Majesty King Mswati's reign.

Count 2
This is said to have been committed on the 24th September 2000 at Salesian Sports grounds in Manzini.

He is said to have persuaded the churches, schools, colleges, universities everywhere and in every house to be places for revolution. This was to include teachers, traditional healers for the overthrowing of the Tinkhundla System of Government which PUDEMO has been orchestrating for since 1973.

2.2 Bail and Conditions ( 15th November 2000)

Our Lawyers applied on the President's behalf and successfully got bail on 15th November 2000.

Bail conditions;

¨ Released on his own recognizance
¨ Report to Royal Swaziland Police (RSP), Mbabane Regional Headquarters, once a day, by 12:00 noon.
¨ Not to address public rallies without Royal Swaziland Police Commissioner's permission
¨ Not to leave Swaziland without the High Court permission.

From that date, 15th November 2000 to the 31st September 2001, Cde. Mario Masuku complied with these conditions. He did this not because he agreed with them. But to show everyone that he is a peace-loving citizen.

During this time his life was taken away from him by the State. He could no longer fend for his family. He could not go home in the Shiselweni region, some 150 kilometres away during the week as it was going to be impossible to come back to Mbabane by noon.

In short he was in all intents and purposes under house arrest.

The lawyers wrote several letters to the Director of Public prosecution for a speedy trial, but to no avail.

3.0 The Esikhawini Resolution 6th - 9th September 2001.

In its 5th Congress, PUDEMO resolved that if the state does not bring the President to court by the 1st October 2001, he should defy the bail conditions. In particular he should stop the daily reporting.

When the resolution was passed, PUDEMO together with the President were aware of the consequences. However, it was felt it was a correct course of action that was to be followed irrespective of such consequences.

4.0 Re-arrest

As expected, the President was re-arrested on Thursday 4th October 2001.

4.1 Inhumane conditions in the maximum prison.

4.1.1 Health Concern.

Our major concern has been the reluctance and refusal by the State to allow the family to bring the Comrade his medication, as he is diabetic.

There are no doctors that check on prisoners' health concern.

However, whilst this is disturbing, we are not surprised as this is the modus operandi for all oppressive regimes the World over.

The Tinkhundla regime has made many of its citizens suffer under its brute force. We are reminded of the Black Wednesday of the University of Swaziland where unarmed students were brutalized by the armed forces, the brutalization of anyone who has differing views whenever the opportunity arises. Incidents that come to mind include the workers in Big Bend, Mhlume, Piggs Peak and the many episodes where many members of the pro democracy movement were maimed in different parts of the country.

The invasion by the state forces against the peace loving people of rural Macetjeni and Ka Mkhweli are some of the examples of state terrorism by the Tinkhundla regime against its own people.

The maximum prison is one of Africa's inhuman prisons. The conditions are not fit for human habitation. As mentioned, the President's health condition has deteriorated drastically since he was taken in. The sleeping arrangement is such that one prefers to sleep on the concrete floors, which are very cold in winter.

4.1.2 Refusal access to reading literature.

The state has refused Cde Mario Masuku access to reading material. He has been denied basic literature other than some few newspapers.

This is happening though he has not been found guilty by a competent court of law.

5.0 The delay in processing his case in a court of law.

Swaziland, though a signatory to many conventions on human rights, is one of Africa's worst violators of human rights.

For 21 months the state has failed to have the case finalised in a competent court. There is intimidation of both state prosecutors and judges. Judges who have been handling the case were retired. It was after some protracted court representation and political maneuvers that their tenure was extended for a few months. This is meant to intimidate them into ruling in favour of the regime.

6.0 Swaziland, the only known state with a political prisoner in Sub Saharan Africa.

In the Sub Saharan, Swaziland is the only government that is holding a prisoner of conscience, who is accused of advocating democracy and civil liberties. The regime must explain its "peaceful and unique democracy" to the international community. This has indeed exposed the state for what it really is for all those who had given it some benefit of doubt.
What crime is there in denouncing a government that is undemocratic like the Swazi Government. There is nothing seditious about such utterances if indeed they were uttered.

The State has now set a date for trial for the 29th October 2001. Without this defiance this date would not have been set. It should be remembered that Comrade Mario Masuku has been under some form of house arrest without trial for a period of 10 full Months to the day of his arrest.

Constitutional making process - a political sham.

The government has told the international community that it is committed to change in Swaziland hence the King's appointment of handpicked constitutional drafting committee.

As expected a Prince like all three previous committees heads the team. Members of the Imbokodvo Nationalist Movement, a royal political party that changed itself into a permanent government in 1973 when the King illegally overthrew the independence Westminster constitution, largely dominate it.

The continued incarceration of a respectable and peaceful leader of a democratic movement confirm the views of many Swazis that such appointment of a Constitutional drafting committee is nothing but a sham that is meant to feed lies to the citizens and the members of the international community about the will of the government to bring about political reforms.

How do you democratise a society whilst on the other hand you are holding a leader of the main opposition in jail for flimsy excuses of some drummed up charges of sedition?

We, Swazis reject this with the contempt it deserves. We call upon the international community to reject it as well for it cannot continue to be taken for granted by the Swazi regime.

7.0 Court appearance July 8, 2002 to July 11, 2002

Finally, after a long delay, the regime is bringing Cde Mario to court this Tuesday, July 8th 2002.

We are calling for the regime to speedily conclude the case, and allow the courts to rule freely and fairly.

Whilst we have no faith in a justice system that has been crafted to suit the royal family, we would like the judges to be allowed to be impartial and proceed with the case without political harassment and interference.

May the international community put pressure on the regime to allow the judges to continue with the case without being threatened with retirement.

8.0) PUDEMO's request to all sectors of our community, and in particular members of the international community.

8.1 To show solidarity and support to the people of our country.

8.2 To put pressure on the Government of Swaziland so that they can unconditionally release Mr. Masuku and withdraw all charges preferred against him.

8.3 To put pressure on the government of Swaziland to agree to our long-standing request to meet it for an all-inclusive process which will map a way towards a peaceful and democratic dispensation. Such a process will include all sectors of our society, from political formations and the government to civic organizations like churches, the youth, women, labor, and the organisations of employers and owners of business, the people with disabilities. The government, and traditional leaders, and members of the royal family will also be included in such a process.

8.4 Assisting in praying for peace in our land, and in asking God to guide those in power to choose and embrace peace than violence.

8.5 Members of the African Union should assist Swaziland to exclude herself from the Union as she has failed the political litmus test for being a deserving member. This is because her policies continue to violate the Union Constitutive Act particularly the main Objectives and articles on democracy, Human rights, good governance, and the rule of law.

8.6 Members of the international community should stop wasting their taxpayers' money on this regime. The royal circus disguised as Constitutional drafting committee is nothing but fattening ranches for members of the royal family and its few supporters. Millions have been wasted on these shams since 1996 with no constitution to show for.

Just yesterday, it was announced that the Swazi regime has splashed a whooping E450 million (E1 = R1) to purchase a private jet for the King. This is happening against a backdrop of starvation in the country where the international community is donating tones of maize to save lives.

8.7 Isolate Swaziland in all spheres; economically, politically, culturally, sports, and communication.

8.8 Support to the Movement for democracy, and the family of Cde. Mario Masuku. Such support could be financially, education for the children, and any form that could promote democracy in Swaziland.

Through our convictions and yearning for freedom, and our commitment to peace, we will continue to fight for our inalienable rights. It is our unshakeable belief that one-day we shall join the community of nations, which have embraced the principles of freedom, peace and justice.

We call upon the people of the Africa to help us cross the political rubicon without bloodshed.

Yours in the struggle for peace and justice,

Ignatius Bonginkosi Dlamini
The People's Secretary General