Ndlangamandla, one time chief editor of the king’s newspaper group, the Swazi Observer, and a former speech writer and praise singer for the monarch, said, ‘At the back of Mswati’s mind, he knows he was not intended to be king.’
Ndlangamandla made his comments in a report just published by Freedom House.
He said the king’s life was dominated by muti (which includes charms and potions used to cast spells and curses) and the king was certain it could kill him.
In the report called Swaziland: A Failed Feudal State, Freedom House quoted Ndlangamandla saying, ‘At the back of Mswati’s mind, he knows he was not intended to be king. This might be the basis of his paranoia. The king is certain muti can kill him, and his life is dominated by fear. Mswati believes that he is imbued with a potent aura (infukwana), and part of the aura can be transferred to any person or object in Swaziland that he might touch. This is the reason why no Swazi may shake hands with the king.
‘Also when Mswati has visited a Swazi’s home, the chair where he sat must be taken away by the king’s servants and destroyed. If not, the host could hire a witch to use the aura left on the chair to make muti and harm the king.’
The Freedom House report added, ‘Any suspected attempt to use muti to attack the king is taken very seriously and sets off procedures to sniff out and eliminate potential harm to the king.
‘Ndlangamandla recalls a tediously long meeting when, as always, the king was seated in a comfortable chair and the other participants were seated on the floor. To alleviate his boredom, Ndlangamandla picked up a loose fiber from the carpet and twirled the fiber between two fingers. As the meeting ended, Mswati ordered Ndlangamandla to stay, questioned him about the fiber and brought in a team of tinyanga [medicine men] to doctor the fiber and the place on the floor where Ndlangamandla had found it.
‘Large numbers of Swazis consider the king to be a powerful muti practitioner in his own right, and the king’s close association with occult practices is an important pillar of his power.
‘Highly educated Swazi cabinet ministers crawl in the king’s presence, and many rural people drop to their knees when they see the flashing blue lights of an official motorcade believing the king might be inside one of the cars,’ Freedom House said.
This is not the first time, the King’s exposure to muti and the occult has been exposed.
In February 2010, Earl Irvine, the then US Ambassador to Swaziland, wrote a confidential cable to the State Department in Washington.
In the cable, later revealed by Wikileaks, Irvine wrote about what he called ‘Witchcraft and More: A Portrait of Influences on King Mswati III’.
In the cable Irvine said ‘traditional leaders, superstition, and members of the royal family’ were the major influences on the king.
Irvine wrote, ‘King Mswati III believes in muti and attempts to use muti to attack the king are taken seriously.’
He wrote that ‘muti people’ hold great sway within the royal family, and that the king must eat and drink whatever they give him during traditional ceremonies, particularly when in seclusion. ‘If they are unhappy with the direction the king is taking the country, then the king has cause to worry.’
A report of what King Mswati does at the annual Incwala ceremony has been circulating since 2011. It was written by an eyewitness who called himself Sithembiso Simelane.
In Simelane’s account, King Mswati is said to take muti and allows himself to be licked all over his body by a snake while drugged. In one part of the supposedly-sacred ceremony he has sexual intercourse with a drugged bull; in another he publicly has sex with two of his wives.
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