Mbabane: Football giants Mbabane Highlanders are mourning the death of their former player and MC secretary Mario Masuku.
The political stalwart succumbed to death in alleged COVID-19 complications on Monday evening.
Masuku was born in October 1951 and was an instrumental part of PUDEMO, which has been fighting for democratic change in Eswatini since 1983.
He was the founder of the banking union, the Swaziland Union of Financial and Allied Workers (SUFIAW), an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) which has very strong bilateral relations with South Africa’s COSATU. He was also a former soccer player and administrator at heavyweights Mbabane Highlanders.
He led PUDEMO from the underground between 1983 and 1990, building political consciousness and building mass democratic underground structures.
Under his leadership and determination, COSATU Congress took a resolution to lobby the ANC government to offer PUDEMO diplomatic status.
In recognition of his sacrifice and exemplary leadership, on 15 March 2010 the Danish parliament conferred on him the Prestigious Danish Democracy Award, making him the very first recipient.
Masuku retired from active leadership in 2017, due to ill health.
He is a recipient of the POPCRU’s Gregory Rockman Award- the most prestigious award presented in recognition and appreciation of the most distinguished excellent and loyal service rendered by individuals or collectives to the organisation.
“The cruel hands of death has robbed us of yet another true Mbabane Highlanders person, Mario Thembeka Masuku. The man also known as ‘Comrade Bhambatha’ served this great club with aplomb as secretary and in other capacities,” Highlanders said in a statement.
“We’ll forever be grateful for his great contribution to the biggest football club in the land.”
“May the Almighty Lord comfort his family, friends, Mbabane Highlanders supporters and the entire nation in this time of sorrow. It’s been a very difficult few weeks,” the statement continued.