I met the real Super Mario

I cannot claim to have met Nelson Mandela. Or Steve Biko. Or Patrice Lumumba. Or Thomas Sankara. But I have met Mario Masuku – the former leader of Swaziland’s biggest democratic movement, PUDEMO.

Super Mario Bros. is one of the world’s most popular arcade and computer games – a game that my sons still love to play in newer versions. A game where the hero – Super Mario – has to endure all manner of dangers in trying to defeat the main villain or antagonist King Koopa Read more of this post

Demokratibevægelse i Swaziland vælger ny leder

People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Swazilands største demokratibevægelse, valgte Mlungisi Makhanya som ny præsident på en kongres i sidste weekend. Danske partier og organisationer har i mange år støttet demokratibevægelsen i landet.

I sin åbningstale til PUDEMOs kongres talte afgående præsident Mario Masuku om monarkiets korruption og manglende demokrati i Swaziland, samt om behovet for at genopbygge PUDEMO.   Read more of this post

PUDEMO elects new leadership

The People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), the largest democratic movement in Swaziland, elected a new leadership at its General Congress last weekend. Mlungisi Makhanya was elected new President.

In his opening address, outgoing President Mario Masuku highlighted the need for the rebuilding of PUDEMO and condemned the corruption of Swazi King Mswati’s absolute rule at PUDEMO’s 9th General Congress, held in Witbank. Read more of this post

The democratisation of Swaziland: inside or outside job?

swaziland-pudemo-2013-194The small absolute monarchy of Swaziland is best known for its tourism, “unique” culture tied to its monarchy, and the cultural and spending exploits of playboy-king Mswati III, not for its repressive regime and ongoing struggle for democracy.

Swaziland is nominally a middle income country that is seldom condemned by world leaders and rarely mentioned in the international media, even though it is one of the most unequal, poverty-stricken and unfree countries in the world, and even though King Mswati spends millions of dollars on prestige projects and personal jets while his subjects starve. Read more of this post

Absolute monarchy assumes chairmanship of SADC

SADCSwaziland assumes the chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community for the first time ever on Wednesday, despite protests from Swaziland and abroad that the small absolute monarchy is not fit to chair the organisation.

The charter of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) clearly states that member states should observe basic human rights such as the right to strike and gender equality, and one of the main objectives of SADC is to support “regional integration, built on democratic principles,” something that SADC’s new chair Swaziland clearly does not. Read more of this post

A victim of circumstances

Mph blog“I am a victim of circumstances”, says activist Mphandlana ‘Victim’ Shongwe of the nickname he is known by because of the decades of state harassment he has endured in his homeland, Swaziland. “But what has kept me going is the desire to be free”.

“Victim” is the name that Mphandlana Shongwe – a founding member of Swaziland’s democratic movement, PUDEMO – is commonly known by in the small absolute monarchy of Swaziland. He was given his nickname, after reflecting on his life in Matsapha Central Prison, while awaiting trial for treason in 1990. Read more of this post

The dialogue that disappeared

Swaziland's parliament protected by barbed wire 300pxIn September, there were high hopes in some parts of Swaziland’s civil society and democratic movement that a dialogue with the county’s absolute monarch King Mswati III was on the table. Not least because of pressure from the Commonwealth, the USA and the EU. Three months later no such meeting has taken place and that hope seems all but shattered.

The meeting was to have taken place between king Mswati III, who has ruled Swaziland almost single-handedly for 30 years, and the so-called G15 group, Read more of this post

Absolute monarch in talks with banned political parties

Mario Masuku_smallSwaziland has been an absolute monarchy for decades, but absolute monarch King Mswati III is being pressed by both the country’s democratic movement, the Commonwealth and the EU to discuss democratic reforms.

“At the moment the king regards us as people who want to destroy the country, but once we have talked with him he will know what the people want”, says president of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Mario Masuku. Read more of this post

Maxwell’s trials and tribulations

Maxwell Dlamini blogMaxwell Dlamini finally walked out of prison in July, released on bail after having spent fourteen months in squalid conditions in the prisons of Swaziland’s absolute monarch King Mswati III. His crime was to have sung a pro-democracy song.

“Jail being the lonely place that it is, there are moments when you feel down and morally low”, says Maxwell. “But at all times I was motivated by the fact that our course is just, and I refuse to abdicate my responsibility or allow the state to break me”. Read more of this post

Released into the big prison

mario maxwell1smAfter having spent over a year in prison awaiting trial for having shouted pro-democracy slogans, pro-democracy leaders Mario Masuku and Maxwell Dlamini were granted bail Tuesday in the small absolute monarchy of Swaziland.

Masuku and Dlamini, both high-ranking members of banned pro-democracy party the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), are charged under Swaziland’s Suppression of Terrorism Act, an act that Amnesty International calls “inherently repressive”. They have previously applied for bail twice without success. Read more of this post