By Peter Kenworthy, The Red-Green Alliance and Africa Contact
As has become customary, the president of the banned party PUDEMO has been arrested along with several other political leaders on Mayday in Swaziland.
The President of PUDEMO, Mario Masuku, had just delivered a speech to members of the trade union confederation TUCOSWA when he was arrested, writes Vice Secretary General for PUDEMO Alex Langwenya in an email to Africa Contact. Thousands of Swazis had heard him speak at a rally in the country’s largest city Manzini.
According to Palesa Dlamini, the Secretary General of Swaziland’s student movement, SNUS, student leader and Secretary General of PUDEMO’s youth league SWAYOCO was also arrested, allegedly for having sung a song with the words “Mswati must go” referring to the country’s absolute monarch. He should have sat hvis exams at the university today.
Both are now accused of sedition against the state according to several sources.
Several others were denied access to the rally. Mphandlana Shongwe, a political activist, was, according to the country’s only independent newspaper the Times of Swaziland, stopped by the police and ordered to leave the city with the words “otherwise you will suffer the same fate as Sipho Jele”. Sipho Jele was a PUDEMO member who was detained on May 1, 2010 for having worn a PUDEMO T-Shirt and who was found dead in his cell the next day under mysterious circumstances. PUDEMO claims that he was murdered by the police.
The arrest of Masuku and Dlamini follows the arrests of, amongst others, PUDEMO’s Secretary General, Mlungisi Makhanya, who was arrested along with six other members of the organization for wearing a T-shirt with PUDEMO’s logo at a trial.
The arrests have been condemned by, amongst others, the South African trade union federation COSATU, in a press release that described Swaziland as “one big national prison”.
Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini have been arrested on questionable charges several times before, and Maxwell Dlamini claims to have been tortured by the police in 2011. He is now being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Danish Red Green Alliance has for over a year had a cooperation and partnership with PUDEMO, through DIPD.
The photo shows Mario Masuko, President of PUDEMO, in front of Danish election posters in November 2013.
More about the Partnership: The Red-Green Alliance and Swaziland’s PUDEMO