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MAXWELL RECOUNTS SHARING JAIL CELL, MARWICK PAYS TRIBUTE

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MBABANE - He was not just his comrade in their struggle, but also shared a jail cell with him.

No one can blame political activist Maxwell Dlamini for being devastated by the passing of former President of the proscribed People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) Mario Masuku.

Dlamini was Masuku’s co-accused after they were arrested by the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) in 2014.

Interviewed yesterday, he said he was saddened and shattered by the passing away of PUDEMO’s longest serving president.

“Comrade Mario was the bamboo tree that provided cooling shades of peace and hope and resistance against the regime. He was a giant, an internationalist, commander, our sharpest spear in our struggle for freedom and democracy. He is in the league of Nelson Mandela, Kenneth Kaunda, Oliver Tambo, Samora Machel and Amilcar Cabral. He is an African giant who stood against injustices and oppression,” said Dlamini.

Mentor 

He mentioned that the late political activist was a mentor, father, comrade, leader and co-accused. 

“I shared with him a jail cell, police van, and shackles and stood with him in the dock side by side fighting and confronting injustices. His humility, love for the people, commitment and sacrifice into the democratic struggle in the country is immeasurable. He gave all into the struggle for emancipation even his own personal life, health and liberty was threatened,” stated Dlamini.

Describing their life in prison, Dlamini said Masuku was like a father to him as he would bring him sweets from the prison tuck-shop.

“He let me read newspapers first. He would share his food with me, giving me the largest share of the meat. He would give me his phone cards to call and check on my family. These acts of kindness, love and humility defined the colossal life of Mario,” he said. 

Elaborating, he said when they were transferred to the Matsapha Maximum Prison, they found that the conditions and food were not good and Masuku was the first to suggest that they should engage on a hunger strike.

Hunger 

“Even when I pleaded with him to let me undergo the hunger strike alone because of his poor health, he insisted that the struggle was bigger than him, that the liberation of the people was far more important than his own personal health and liberty. Indeed we engaged in a hunger strike, with him taking his medication on an empty stomach, sacrificing his own health and life for the good of others,” he stated.

Furthermore, Dlamini said Masuku’s selflessness and commitment to the struggle was further exhibited when he lost his mother while in prison. 

He said that was the only time he saw him broken, shattered and devastated. 

“He could not speak nor do anything after receiving the news. He went straight to bed, slept the whole day only to wake up at 8pm during our prayer time and insisted that we read Psalms 23 under the title ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ and we prayed. When we suggested together with our late lawyer, Leo Gama, that he must apply for bail alone to increase chances of burying his mother, he refused,” recounted Dlamini.

He said Masuku reminded him that since they entered prison together, they would have to leave together.

“He ditched the attempt and opportunity to get released and personal liberty at my expense. He turned down even the offer to be taken by the prison warders to go pay his last respects to his mother in shackles because of his commitment and dedication to the struggle,” he added.

Adding, Dlamini said Masuku taught him humility, love, resilience and commitment to the struggle.

He said the late activist insisted that their struggle was not of hate, hunger or personal gratification.

“He said it was a struggle for our people, a human struggle of justice, peace, emancipation and love. He taught me that we must channel and turn our anger and hate into political energy, that we must love, respect and treat people with dignity,” he emphasised.

Following the news of Masuku’s death, various local and international organisations and political parties issued statements on social media platforms conveying their condolences. 

Meanwhile, seasoned politician and Lobamba Lomdzala Member of Parliament Marwick Khumalo, said he respected the late Masuku’s strong political conviction and beliefs.

Khumalo said his comment was in two-fold where Masuku was concerned.

Democracy 

“This is as a politician and as a bonafide Mbabane Highlanders FC. He was a staunch advocate of multiparty democracy, an ideal he never realised while he was alive and as a leader and founder member of his movement, PUDEMO.

“Even in death, I respect him for his strong political conviction and beliefs. A man who can stand firmly and unwaveringly on a certain political course can only attract others’ respect, regardless of whether they share his views or not. It is not necessary that some didn’t subscribe to his views, holistically,” said Khumalo.

He mentioned that Masuku’s sweat and toil for the principle he so strongly believed in remained a cornerstone for youth activism in his movement. 

“Nevertheless, we were of one mind and soul at Mbabane Highlanders FC. He played for the team, he served in various managerial capacities, and became a lifelong patron, until his death. For his service to my team, I salute him. Needless to say, he was my relative. He was the biological grand-uncle of my younger brother Majahodvwa’s four children. May your soul rest in paradise Thunda’bathole Bafokazana,” Khumalo added.



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