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Thursday, 23 December 2010

SWAZI PM ‘STEALS FROM THE PEOPLE’

Yesterday (22 December 2010), I criticised Thulani Thwala, the recently-appointed editor of the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, who claimed it was not a lapdog.

It is.

If you want to learn how journalism should be done in Swaziland you have to turn to the Nation magazine, a small independent monthly journal of comment. Alone among the news media in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, it fearlessly publishes news and information to assist readers to make informed decisions – the very thing, Thwala claimed for himself.

I’ve written before with admiration about the way the Nation reported in April 2008 about how King Mswati and the Royal Family were milking their subjects and illegally taking ‘obscene’ amounts money that was not due to them. It also covered in full the documentary Without the King that exposed the huge cavern between the king’s lifestyle and those of his subjects.

Now, the Nation has turned its attention to Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed Prime Minister.

Bheki Makhubu, the Nation’s editor, writes in the December 2010 edition about how the Prime Minister is stealing from the people of Swaziland.

You will see also that the Nation is not afraid to refer to the Royal Family sex scandal of August 2010 that was reported throughout the world but ignored by the rest of the Swaziland media.

It is a crying shame that the Nation does not have a website so that its journalism can be seen throughout the world. Instead, it can only be purchased in Swaziland.

Below is the article from Makhubu, published in full. I am posting this for the benefit of readers outside of Swaziland, May I urge those of us who are inside Swaziland to support the Nation by buying it each month – and those of us who can, to support it by buying advertising space.


SPEAKING MY MIND

by Bheki Makhubu

The heat was unbearable, sweltering hot on that Thursday, October 16, 2008 when King Mswati III, arriving in the late afternoon to Ludzidzini Cattle byre told a stunned Swazi nation that he was returning Barnabas Dlamini as the prime minister of this country.

In the speech preceding the announcement, the monarch had thundered for some 35 minutes, complaining about the state of politics in the country. There is no doubt that His Majesty did not appreciate the lack of high-handedness in A.T. [Themba] Dlamini’s running of government before.

From that speech, A. T. came out looking weak, a man who had let His Majesty down terribly. What was needed, was a man like the present premier, someone who brooked no nonsense and would deal with the political madness the king saw in the country.

We all shouted ‘Bayethe’ when the king made the announcement. We all knew, though, that the decision was wrong. We knew it because we had all seen what the cantankerous man from KuKhanyeni was capable of when given power. But, we were helpless because the monarch had spoken.

Exactly, two years into office, the prime minister has shown his hand. This time, he is stealing from the people, abusing the trust His Majesty bestowed on him. It is worth noting that this is the second time in a few months that King Mswati III has been betrayed by a person he trusted completely. Earlier this year, then Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Ndumiso Mamba was exposed for having an affair with an Inkhosikati [wife of the king].

Now, Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini is stealing from the Swazi people and, according to an interview he had with the Times of Swaziland, is very arrogant about it. He is plundering the country.

The Prime Minister and his cabinet team cut a deal for themselves, taking land in Mbabane at discounted prices. This is a city so broke the Municipal of Mbabane cannot even fix potholes.

Yet, our Prime Minister sees nothing wrong with it. He argues that the deal was not illegal. If that is the case, then why has he suspended such deals so that the law is changed to conform to the constitution.

A little lecture here would suffice. If a law is inconsistent with the constitution, it has no force of law the day it purports to come into effect and, if it existed when the constitution came into effect, then it becomes ineffective the day constitution came into force.

That’s the law.

I know, I know. The law is a foreign concept with our premier.

The Minister responsible for facilitating the deal, a woman who masquerades as a pastor, Lindiwe Dlamini, told Christians at a meeting recently that cutting land deals was what she did as a hobby. For her, therefore, stealing from the public to secure her longevity in cabinet comes as second nature to her.

And she calls herself a woman of God, anointed by the Holy Spirit to spread the word? What rubbish!

But then, this is what you get when you let people who have not been elected by the people to run the government. You know when I see the prime minister now, I see Hastings Kamazu Banda of Malawi. I see Mobuto Sese Seko of the then Zaire. I see Idi Amin of Uganda. All these were Africa’s despots who plunged their countries into economic and political quagmire while they lived the lives of kings.

These are men we have all learnt never to emulate if we want to be men and women of honour. No, not our Prime Minister. He thinks they were real men. Men of honour he can learn from.

They were unashamed to silence those who questioned what they did because they wanted to feed their greed without disturbance. In our Prime Minister, I see General Sani Abacha of Nigeria, a latter-day despot who plundered the riches of that oil rich country simply because they allowed him to run the country.

My take is that our Prime Minister is beyond caring what the people of our country think or say about him. He is doing what he wants as and when it pleases him.

Our country has collapsed into an economic mess under his watch.

He thinks nothing of it except making sure than his children and grandchildren will be taken care of when he is gone.

When he had an interview with the Times, he has cancelled the usual breakfast meeting with editors under the guise that the Incwala season had started. As if Incwala is a new concept that has come with him.

In cancelling the breakfast meeting, the premier showed he is a coward to boot. But bullies are like that. They can’t face those willing to take them on.

While he is quick to boast that he is the first and only prime minister with a university degree this country has ever had, he does not have the courage to meet editors, uneducated as they are, and explain his ‘brilliant’ idea of stealing from the people.

Instead, he found a lackey in the editor of the Times of Swaziland and tried to cleanse himself. It is a crying shame that Mbongeni Mbingo [the Times editor] listened to the balderdash and fed it to the public. He too should be ashamed of himself.

Anyways, let Sibusiso have his way. Akadle uMlangeni! Inkhosi iphakele.

As a thinker once said: “In a society in which there is little real economic productivity, power relationships are defined by conspicuous material wealth”.

Dlani Nkhosi!! Dlani, umngani wema khosi!

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