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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 17:53 GMT
Concern for jailed Swazi leader
Graffiti in Mbabane
Graffiti calling for the opposition politican's release
Relatives of the jailed Swaziland opposition leader, Mario Masuku, say they are worried about his deteriorating health.

Mr Masuku is losing weight at an alarming rate and has been diagnosed as suffering from hypertension and diabetes, they say.

The president of the Peoples United Democratic Movement, Pudemo, was arrested in early October for defying his bail conditions following a charge of sedition a year ago.

No date has been set for his trial and there is little prospect of one before about February, according to officials.

Pudemo said Mr Masuku had spent more than a month sleeping on the floor of a crowded jail cell with two old blankets, although he was given a bed and more blankets on Thursday.

Poorly treated

Treasurer-general Zodwa Mkhonta told the BBC they were pushing for an early trial, but admitted his spirits were not good.

King Mswati III:
King Mswati brooks no political dissent

"In prison there is no complete care. He has had to do without medication... and without his own doctor," she said.

A senior official of Swaziland's prison service said the opposition leader was ill, but had been so before he was imprisoned.

"We are trying our best to follow the doctors instructions who advises us on a daily basis on what Masuku needs," said Mnguni Simelane, the commissioner for Correctional Services.

Opposition parties are not allowed to engage in political activity in Swaziland.

Pudemo's treasurer-general Zodwa Mkhonta
"He has to do without medication at times"
See also:

25 Jun 01 | Africa
Anger at Swazi media decree
28 Sep 01 | Africa
Swazi king takes eighth wife
26 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Swaziland
04 Dec 01 | Africa
Profile: Troubled King Mswati
14 Nov 01 | Africa
Swazi tussle over virgin tassels
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