The Swaziland land-scam that has Barnabas Dlamini, the illegally-appointed Prime Minister, along with his deputy, four members of the Swazi Royal Family, at least nine cabinet ministers (past and present) at its heart, has shone the spotlight on one unsavoury aspect of the undemocratic kingdom.
It turns out that the Swazi Cabinet members who put their snouts in the trough for their own benefits are all unelected. Members of the cabinet who are elected to parliament kept away from the deal – knowing that it stank to high heaven and if they did become involved the voters would kick them out at the next election.
The Swazi News, an independent newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reports that only one minister elected by the people applied for the plot - Kukhanyeni MP Clement Dlamini, the Minister of Agriculture.
The News reports the other ministers who received government land in contravention of the Crowns Land Disposal Act and Crown Lands Disposal Regulations of 2003 are appointed MPs.
These are Prime Minister Dlamini; Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku; Prince Hlangusemphi, Minister of Economic Planning and Development; Princess Tsandzile, Minister of Natural Resources and Energy and Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze, Minister of Home Affairs.
Appointed MPs who are ministers are a majority in the current cabinet. There are 11 of them from a total of 20 ministers – this is even though the Swaziland Constitution says a majority of ministers should be elected MPs.
The Swazi News reports that one of the ministers is reported to have telephoned his colleagues and sternly warned them against any attempt to acquire the land.
‘The helpful minister had been advised by some professionals from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development that the sale of the land was in total violation of the laws of the country,’ the News reports.
However, no one was brave enough among the dissenting ministers to question the legality of the sale during one of the cabinet meetings, the newspaper adds.
The News also says ‘the issue of the land is said to have become topical after ministers had complained of shortage of accommodation in Mbabane. Others complained of travelling long distances from home to work on a daily basis.’
Lindiwe Dlamini, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, was asked if there was any vacant land around Mbabane that could be sold to the ministers.
The News says, ‘well placed sources said the idea was not to find land for ministers in their official but personal capacities’.
It quotes an unnamed source saying, ‘If government had realistically wanted land for the ministers in their official capacity, there would have been no need for it to adhere to the law because the land basically belonged to it. The government would have simply built ministerial houses there.
‘Now, it’s a different story because the plots have been registered under the names of the ministers yet the law was flouted.’
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