As we all know by now, Barnabas flew to the Bahamas for an award ceremony on Saturday (2 October 2010) expecting to get a medal for his humanitarian work, his love of human rights and for being a substantial world figure.
We have still to get an explanation from Barnabas or the Swazi Government about how he fell for the scam and what inquiries it made before agreeing to accept the award.
But he is not the first Swazi Prime Minister to fall for the trick. In October 2007, Themba Dlamini, who was then Swazi PM, flew off to the Bahamas to accept a similar medal. The trip caused annoyance back in Swaziland, because Themba took his wife and his personal pastor on the trip with him at the taxpayers’ expense.
Luckily for Themba, the scam wasn’t made public, but we can’t be sure whether he rumbled something was wrong, and was too embarrassed to admit his foolishness, and just kept quiet.
Of course (even more foolishly perhaps) he might not have realised he was the victim of a con.
Oddly, Themba went to collect the award, without knowing what it was for, according to a report in October 2007 published in the Times of Swaziland, the kingdom’s only independent daily. The government’s official spokesman Percy Simelane and the ex-PM himself have never publicly explained what Themba did to deserve the award.
The Times tried to find out how much the trip cost, but was told that that information was ‘confidential’.
Its companion newspaper the Times Sunday followed up the story about Themba and his personal pastor in January 2008.
It reported that the pastor accompanied the PM, and this fact was accepted, but nobody explained why the pastor was needed.
The Times Sunday reported Percy Simelane saying that the PM paid for the costs of the pastor’s trip. But the newspaper also quoted ‘sources’ saying that the Swazi taxpayer footed the bill.
So we have a conflict here. Who really paid the bill? We still don’t know because there is no freedom of information law in Swaziland and if the government says ‘we won’t tell you’ that’s pretty much the end of the argument.
Con man Rudy King obviously knew it was easy to scam members of Swaziland’s ruling elite. As well as Barnabas Dlamini and Themba Dlamini he also caught two members of the Swazi Royal Family. Prince David got his gong in 2006 and Prince Guduza is listed by the World Citizen Awards organisation as having received one also between 2007 and 2009.