Swaziland (renamed Eswatini by the monarchy) human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko was brutally murdered in his home on Saturday, January 21. He was shot down in front of his family and children.
Maseko had been a relentless campaigner for democracy in one of the world's last absolute monarchies. Swaziland has seen wave after wave of protests for democracy all of which have faced brutal repression. He was imprisoned in 2014 though ultimately released after national and international protests.
His killing has been condemned United Nations humans rights chief Volker Türk. It was also condemned by numerous other leftist and worker groups across the continent and around the world.
Both the Communist Parties of Swaziland and South Africa also released statements.
The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) joins the justice and peace-loving people of Swaziland and the world in mourning the brutal and tragic assassination of human rights lawyer, Advocate Thulani Rudolf Maseko (1 March 1970 – 21 January 2023).
The CPS conveys its deepest condolences to Maseko’s family, particularly his wife, Tanele, as well as his children who could do nothing but watch as he breathed his last. Further, the CPS conveys its condolences to the People’s United Democratic Movement, of which he was a member, and the entire liberation movement of Swaziland.
Unarmed, Maseko was murdered by the regime’s mercenaries at his home in KaLuhleko, nearby Mhlambanyatsi, about 18 kilometres southwest of the capital, Mbabane. The murder of Maseko by the Mswati autocracy followed a public declaration by Africa’s last absolute monarch, Mswati III, on the same day, that he would continue using mercenaries to kill democracy activists. A few hours after that declaration, Mswati’s mercenaries murdered Advocate Maseko.
Advocate Thulani Maseko’s blood is in Mswati’s hands, and he must be held accountable for Maseko’s murder, including the murder of over 100 Swazis from 29 June 2021 and many before that.
Advocate Thulani Maseko utilised his legal skills to fight for the democratisation of Swaziland. His only crime against the regime was the utilisation of his pen and voice to call for democracy. In 2014, he was sentenced to two years for criticising the judiciary for its endorsement of oppression, including the stifling of people’s voices. Previously, in 2009, he was arrested under the discredited Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008, and later faced charges under the Sedition Act for raising his voice in the call for the unbanning of political parties and democratisation of the country.
The murder of Advocate Thulani Maseko proves the CPS’s stance that the Mswati autocracy is not, and indeed has never been, willing to engage in any meaningful dialogue towards the democratisation of the country. The CPS is on record stating that, under the current circumstances, democracy in Swaziland will be achieved only by rendering the Mswati regime unworkable, making all of its state organs ungovernable. In the year 2023, this must necessarily include ensuring that the regime does not celebrate its 50th anniversary since the imposition of the state of emergency on 12 April 1973, as well as running an intense campaign to BOYCOTT, DISRUPT and STOP Mswati’s sham tinkhundla elections. As such, the imperative to build the resistance movement and fight to achieve Democracy Now is now more urgent than ever.
In paying tribute to Advocate Thulani Maseko, the CPS calls for principled unity within the mass democratic movement. The Mswati regime has shown its true colours, that it will go to extreme lengths to protect its dictatorship. As such, the CPS calls upon the people of Swaziland to draw a clear line between those who fight for total democracy and those whose objective is to maintain the system.
There must be no middle road in the struggle against absolute-monarchy rule. The CPS reiterates its call for the establishment of community councils, including the security councils, for the people to adequately defend themselves against the regime’s murderous security forces.
The abnormality of the current situation must also be practically felt by the autocracy! The revolutionary fire must rise and burn down the entire system!
The South African Communist Party (SACP) joins the people of Swaziland struggling for democracy in strongly condemning the assassination of advocate Thulani Rudolf Maseko, a human rights lawyer and activist for a transition from Mswati’s autocratic regime to democracy in Swaziland.
The SACP sends its message of sincere condolences to Maseko’s family and reiterates its unwavering solidarity with the people of Swaziland struggling for democracy, the release of political prisoners and those responsible for repression, including ordering and/or executing assassinations of political activists, to be held accountable.
Maseko was assassinated on Saturday, 21 January 2023, in his home in Ka Luhleko, nearby Mhlambanyatsi.
In 2014, he was arrested and imprisoned for two years by Mswati’s autocratic regime. Adv. Maseko’s sin was to express his freedom of speech in pursuit of the transition from Mswati’s autocratic regime to democracy in Swaziland. His writings, mostly articles, spread awareness, enlightening the people, as the Swaziland Solidarity Network stated in its statement issued on Sunday, 22 January 2023, denouncing the assassination.
Adv. Maseko did not demobilise in response to the unjust imprisonment by the absolute monarch. He advanced and defended the human rights of the people of Swaziland, continuing the just struggle for democracy. He was also a member of the Lawyers for Human Rights and the Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network.