When I was doing an internship with AmaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism in South Africa back in 2019, one former Cabinet Minister shared WhatsApp messages revealing how the Public Accounts Commitee(PAC)is restricted from investigating Mswati and those linked to him.
In the messages,Matsanjeni North Member of Parliament(MP) Phila Buthelezi, the then Chairperson of the PAC(now Labour Minister)revealed how Mswati summoned him together with the late Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini and Senate President Lindiwe Dlamini and ordered them to ensure that the PAC is restricted from investigating the Sicunusa-Nhlangano road where millions of public funds were looted.
An analyses of the messages suggests that, Senate President Lindiwe Dlamini allegedly rushed to King Mswati to report that the PAC was investigating her.
This was after the Public Accounts Committee summoned her to answer some questions regarding the tendering process of the Sicunusa-Nhlangano multi-million project.
In his own words, as reflected in the messages, MP Buthelezi allegedly said, “Kusho kutsi-ke Mlangeni ngeke sikhone kulwa ne-corruption uma kutawusetjentwa kanje(meaning: It means we won’t be able to fight corruption if we work this way)”.
It should be noted that the messages were shared in 2019, at the time, MP Buthelezi was vibrant, however, he was subsequently captured by royalty and other powerful businessmen linked to Mswati whose corrupt dealings with Government never appear in reports or debates by the PAC or Parliament.
Labour Minister Buthelezi now does business with Inyatsi Construction, a company with alleged links to Mswati and Michello Shakantu.
Despite being a major beneficiary in the public procurement,the PAC never discussed the corruption allegedly committed by the powerful and politically connected Michello Shakantu and some of his companies.
The Public Accounts Committee(PAC) should independently investigate corruption in the public administration but that is not happening, it’s an institution meant to embarrass powerless teachers and certain officials within the Ministry of Education.
As an investigative journalist, I have a bundle of documents exposing how Mswati, Michello Shakantu and his corrupt syndicate loot public funds, we exposed and published evidence to substantiate these allegations.
Then, what’s the significance of establishing such institutions if the people who abuse their powers to steal public funds are immune to scrutiny by constitutionally established institutions like the PAC?
Before being appointed Labour Minister, MP Phila Buthelezi, the then PAC Chairperson would frequently visit Michello Shakantu’s office.
Shakantu is a corrupt businessman who grabs almost every construction tender and then shares the money with King Mswati.
When one analyses how Phila Buthelezi climbed the political ladder to the Hospital Hill, I remember the words of my supervisor Andrew Forest, the editor of AmaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism who said: “Martin,you must always be vigilant as a journalist, where politics and business meet, there’s corruption”.
In light of the aforementioned and in conclusion, it is important to state that we have a serious problem in this country, everything is captured by the powerful and politically connected.
It’s a waste of time to follow proceedings of the PAC, particularly when you know what is happening behind the scenes.
King Mswati and Michello Shakantu are becoming a serious problem in this country that needs to be fixed as a matter of urgency.