The Swaziland Government wants to keep secret from the Swazi people why the kingdom’s army ran out of food and soldiers had to beg from civilians homestead-to-homestead to stop from starving.
The Government says the reason for the shortage is ‘sensitive’ and that the problem has now been solved.
In Swaziland, people generally assume that the problem was either caused because the government has no money to pay its bills and therefore can’t get supplies, or that food purchases have fallen foul of the well-documented corruption that is rife in the army.
The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, reported that Lutfo Dlamini, the Minister of Defence and Security, told the Swazi Senate yesterday (23 March 2011), ‘due to national security some of the details cannot be released to the public domain’.
Senators were not happy with the minister’s reply. Victor Malambe said, ‘Yes the food problem has been sorted in the army but we want to know what the source of the problem was.
‘We know everyone is now shielding behind the economic crisis in the country but we have to know if it was negligence or the problem of the suppliers or government did not have the money. What is really happening, we should not provoke soldiers,’ he said.
He’s certainly right about not provoking soldiers. The king and the government he handpicks are running sacred at the moment following a mass protest last Friday that demanded the resignation of the government. An ‘uprising’ coordinated by a Facebook group is planned for 12 April. With so much civil unrest about, the king needs to be sure the soldiers will support him if the time comes.
The Observer reported that Dlamini would meet senators in private to explain the reason for the food shortage.
Editor’s note. Lutfo Dlamini, the Minister of Defence and Security, who also doubles as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was sacked from his posts in January 2011 after it was discovered by King Mswati that Dlamini had diverted for himself funds from Kuwait intended for the king. Dlamini was reinstated after an almighty row that split the Swazi Royal Family. As one observer put it privately, ‘The king wanted Lutfo’s testicles on a plate; the Queen Mother just wanted his testicles’.
TOP SWAZILAND DEFENCE MAN FIRED