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MBABANE - Former President of the proscribed People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) Mario Masuku has passed on after succumbing to COVID-19 complications.

Masuku, who had an underlying medical condition, reportedly died while undergoing treatment at the Mbabane Government Hospital on Monday, at the age of 69.

He was reportedly diabetic.

His demise was confirmed by his son Mzwandile, who disclosed that Masuku died hardly a week after being admitted.

Mzwandile said his father would be buried on Friday in adherence to the COVID- 19 regulations, that a person should be buried within three days after his or her demise. 


“He will be buried at Makhosini on Friday morning.  We had wished to give him a send-off that he deserved, but the situation is what it is,” said Mzwandile.

He said they appreciated that his father was a people’s person and they would make means to accommodate his followers through social media and online platforms.

The Masuku family also issued a statement yesterday wherein it requested to be given privacy during this difficult time.

“It is with immense sadness that the Masuku family announces that our father and grandfather Mario Masuku passed away peacefully on Monday, January 11, 2021 after a short illness. Rest in peace Nhlanekhulu. Further details will follow,” reads part of the statement.

When reporters from this publication visited his residence at Eveni in Mbabane yesterday, there were cars parked belonging to mourners.

Masuku had many run-ins with the law due to his political beliefs and call for regime change.  


He was arrested a number of times while serving as the president of PUDEMO, an organisation that was proscribed during the tenure of the late Prime Minister, Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini.

He stepped down from leading PUDEMO after he was released from custody.

Masuku will be remembered for among other things his authoritative voice and stern face while raising a clenched fist when addressing the crowds during PUDEMO rallies.

He fought hard for freedom of association, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression in the Kingdom of Eswatini. 

It was his belief in freedom of expression that would lend him in prison from time-to-time on charges of Sedition. 

Meanwhile, Lawyers for Human Rights (Swaziland) LHR(S) also extended their deepest sympathy to the Masuku family.

LHR(S) Chairperson Maxwell Nkambule said: “A giant has fallen; a limb has fallen from the freedom of expression family tree! As an organisation we commit ourselves to follow in the steps of Mario Masuku and continue the fight for human rights; until freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly is fully realised.”

On the other hand, PUDEMO National Executive Committee Chairperson Mphandlana Shongwe described Masuku as an oak tree which withstood all weather conditions.

“He was a liberator, worker, priest and a peace maker. He withstood jail, poverty and all harsh conditions. To me he was like a father,” said Shongwe.

Shongwe said he was speechless on the death of Masuku as they were very close. 

He said when he met Masuku in 1983, he (Shongwe) was still a student at William Pitcher College and the former was already employed at Barclays Bank.

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