One of the Swaziland newspapers in effect owned by King Mswati III has called the land scam involving the kingdom’s prime minister, his deputy, four members of the Swazi Royal Family and at least nine cabinet ministers (past and present) ‘a stinking deal’.
The Weekend Observer today (4 December 2010) says ‘this transaction is not clean’.
Alec Lushaba, the editor of the Weekend Observer, writing in his own newspapers, says the deal that gave discounts of up to 50 percent on the true price of the publicly-owned land ‘was hatched by the most senior people in government’ who went out of their way to find a piece of legislation ‘to benefit themselves and those closer to the deal’.
He goes on, ‘That the Prime Minister [Barnabas Dlamini] and his deputy are beneficiaries of this deal does not make it holy and divine either. Depriving society or the State of its assets is a sin and whosoever is doing it must repent. Amen to that!’
He says, ‘But the interesting part, the nature of the whole transaction stinks and could not have smelt otherwise. Only a society that is blind cannot read through their actions.’
He says, ‘But immediately you have six cabinet ministers all buying into the same property at very low or next to nothing price, you have to be worried. There is just no justification for this action other than depriving the State of its prized asset, land.’
He goes on, ‘With the Prime Minister in charge of all corruption affairs, how was he going to investigate this one?’
He adds, ‘We cannot talk in double tongues when dealing with corruption. If it is our resolve as government that we are sick and tired of corruption, we must not tolerate even one engineered from within.’
He adds, ‘Anyone who tries to re-define corruption as we know it is an enemy of the state. Corruption is corruption whether it involves an MP, a judge, a civil servant or businessman. But the most dangerous one is when systems are manipulated and the law abused to further individual interests.’
Lindiwe Dlamini, Housing and Urban Development Minister, has said she didn’t bother to advertise that the land was for sale because that would have attracted too many people.
Or put another way, she took it upon herself to allocate the land to people she knew and give them huge discounts on the real value of the land. This is a clear example of greed and cronyism.
In his article Lushaba says, ‘Government has clear procedures of disposing its assets. One fundamental principle is that it has to be done in a transparent manner.’
Lushaba accuses Lindiwe Dlamini of acting unconstitutionally. ‘The powers that she claims vests on her no longer do. The Land Management Board is, under the Constitution, charged with all land issues. Those pieces of legislation that she claims she used when appropriating that land are now the preserve of the Land Management Board.’