The Swazi Cabinet approved the plan that allowed the Prime Minister, his deputy, four members of the Royal Family and at least nine cabinet ministers (past and present) to buy government land at huge discounts.
This, in effect, means they approved a plan that would allow themselves to save hundreds of thousands of emalengeni on the land scam. Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed Prime Minister himself saved E304,000 (43,000 US dollars) when he was allowed to buy land at half its proper value.
Lindiwe Dlamini, the Swaziland Housing and Urban Development Minister, has been under attack for allocating the land without properly advertising it for sale. The Swazi Parliament this week demanded a select committee urgently investigate the sales.
Barnabas Dlamini defended the minister’s decision to let the land go to himself and his colleagues in what is widely interpreted as an act of greed and cronyism.
Barnabas Dlamini told journalists there was nothing wrong with the way the land was sold.
According to the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, ‘He said the minister got the green light to allocate the land from cabinet’.
The Observer reported, ‘He said according to his understanding of the laws that deal with land allocations, there was nothing that went wrong in the allocations. He said if there was anything that anyone felt went wrong, then it was not only one person’s fault but the whole cabinet.
‘He said the decision to give ministers the plots was a collective one which could be justified by concerns that ministers were living far away from their workplace while others were living in rented houses, hence the need to help them find accommodation closer.’
The Observer reported, ‘When asked why the land allocation was not advertised, Dlamini said advertising would have resulted in a lot of people applying for the plots yet it was only a few that were available.’