Lutfo Dlamini, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, is at the centre of a scandal that looks set to cost him his Cabinet job.
Dlamini, until now considered to be a loyal servant to King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is accused of embezzling monies intended for the king. One version of the story says US$1 million was involved.
The scandal centres on Kuwait and is said to relate to money that Kuwait donated to Swaziland, but that never reached the kingdom.
Swaziland’s Ambassador to Kuwait, Phesheya Dlamini, a former Swazi Attorney General, is also implicated in the scandal.
The Swazi media has been silent on the details of the affair, but the Times of Swaziland did reveal on Friday (7 January 2011) that a cabinet reshuffle was imminent because a minister was about to be sacked over a ‘botched business deal worth millions of Emalangeni’.
The Swazi Observer has been totally silent, and we shouldn’t expect anything from that quarter, unless King Mswati gives it the go-ahead. As you know, on Saturday (8 January 2011) Alec Lushaba, editor of the Weekend Observer, wrote that the newspaper group would never publish anything about the monarchy without the king’s approval.
It is difficult for anyone (myself included) to get the full details of the Lutfo scandal as people are too scared to talk. This scandal is said to involve the king and he is reportedly livid. And, nobody wants to cross the king when he is in this kind of mood.
One version of the story says that the money from Kuwait related to ‘bride price’ that was due to the king from the family in Kuwait of a man who wanted to marry one of the king’s daughters. The money was handed over in Kuwait, but never reached the king. He is said to have accidentally found out about the deal when his daughter innocently asked the king if he was pleased with the gift.
Until now, Lutfo Dlamini has been considered (at least publicly) to be one of the king’s staunchest supporters. Lutfo even went so far as to write what can only be described as a ‘love poem’ to the king and he has said the King Mswati was sent to Swaziland by God.
Lutfo said of King Mswati,‘He is a leader of peace, passion and vision whose example shines throughout the world.’
He once told the King to his face at a public gathering, ‘Your Majesty we once again wish to take this opportunity before your gracious self to pledge our unwavering loyalty to honest service to Your Majesty and to uphold the values whilst upholding the pride of the Swazi nation at all times.’
But, it would seem, despite this great loyalty to his king, Lutfo wasn’t averse to stealing from him.
And as for upholding ‘values’, don’t let’s go there.
King Mswati must be wondering what’s hit him. Lutfo Dlamini was supposed to be a close ally and has deceived him. In August 2010, Ndumiso Mamba, the then Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, also a close ally, was found in an adulterous relationship with one of the King’s wives.
It seems the king can’t really trust anyone – they say they love him, but really they’re out for what they can get for themselves.
To read more about Lutfo Dlamini, click here