PM, Sthofeni, Clifford’s Swazi Secrets character assassinator exposed!



BY : ZWELI MARTIN DLAMINI

MBABANE:: Evidence has emerged substantiating how Bongani Mamba, the suspended Matsapha Councilor has been secretly insulting public figures in his faceless and non existing Swazi Secrets. These are preliminary findings of an independent investigation regarding a character assassination syndicate that has been targeting highly regarded public figures by creating false allegations with the intention of clouding public opinion to push political ambitions. The latest victim of the syndicate is Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Clifford Mamba. It has been disclosed that the attacks on Clifford Mamba were influenced by the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry that seeks to investigate the breakdown in the administration of the Matsapha Municipality to which Bongani Mamba was a Councilor. As per the recent testimony of Councilor Bongani Mkhatswa when submitting before the Commission of Inquiry, Bongani Mamba stands accused of corruption particularly bribery and insiders disclosed that he was never in support of the probe hence the secret attacks on PS Clifford Mamba.

The unmasking of the person behind Swazi Secrets comes in the midst of an intensive investigation by this Swaziland News Centre for Investigative Journalism that uncovered emails dating back to 2017. At the time, Councilor Mamba was working closely with Swazi Observer Managing editor Mbongeni Mbingo and other journalists to push the secret political ambitions of the late powerful businessman Victor Gamedze through the mainstream media.

Bongani Mamba launched his character assassination campaign by attacking highly regarded figures in the country that include Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, SRA Commissioner General Dumisani Masilela, Central Bank Governor Majozi Sithole and businessman Sthofeni Ginindza among others. Bongani Mamba had ambitions to serve in the businessman’s Cabinet while Mbongeni Mbingo was to take over Swazi TV as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) through the influence of the businessman who already had a list of his potential MPs, Cabinet Ministers and CEOs of public enterprises. When Councilor Mamba was questioned about the evidence that links him to the faceless Swazi Secrets, he sounded shocked. Councilor Mamba suggested a meeting with this journalist before making official comments on the matter. “Do you want to see me or? he asked, to which this journalist responded that he was seeking a comment on the preliminary findings that link him to Swazi Secrets. Councilor Mamba insisted on a meeting with this journalist saying he wont comment over the phone. “I wont give you a comment but if you want to see me, you can see me,” said the suspended Councilor But senior political sources told this publication that the probe came at a time when some Councilors were worried that it might expose several wrongdoings within the Municipality. It has emerged that shortly after the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Matsapha Municipality, PS Clifford Mamba subsequently became the target as by virtue of being the Controlling Officer of the Ministry; he instituted the probe with the support of Minister Prince Simelane. Reached for comments, Principal Secretary Clifford Mamba said he was aware of the people behind the defamation of his character but was not shaken.

“I am aware of who they are but will not entertain them. You see, a pig enjoys playing in the mud but once you entertain it, people will never differentiate between it and a person of integrity,” he said. This Swaziland News Centre for Investigative Journalism further uncovered that even before the faceless Swazi Secrets emerged, Councilor Bongani Mamba has been sending series of articles to the Times of Swaziland and the Swazi Observer seeking to assassinate the characters of public figures. On or around 16 June 2017, an email was sent to Swazi Observer Managing editor Mbongeni Mbingo where serious unfounded allegations against the then Swazi MTN Chief Executive Officer (CEO) now Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini were disclosed. Even though the false allegations in the email cannot be repeated because of their defamatory nature, they were a duplicate of what was subsequently published by Matsapha Councilor Bongani Mamba in his Facebook page about Sthofeni Ginindza and the Prime Minister. Further investigations uncovered that the faceless Swazi Secrets was then established and the syndicate was seeking to then legitimize the allegations through the mainstream media. Indeed, on or around the 11th January 2018, few weeks after the Swazi Secrets emerged, Mbongeni Mbingo’s close ally Welcome Dlamini from the Times of Swaziland allegedly made calls to Dumisani Masilela, the Commissioner General of the eSwatini Revenue Authority (ERA) Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, the then Swazi MTN Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Majozi Sithole, the Governor of the Central Bank of eSwatini (CBE). The intention, it has been gathered, was to legitimize the false allegations published by Mamba’s Swazi Secrets in the mainstream media. Dumsani Masilela, the revenue authority boss confirmed receiving a call from Welcome Dlamini of the Times on the subject matter. Speaking to this Swaziland News, the Commissioner General said the attempt to publish the unfounded allegations in the two newspapers failed as they had taken a position not to comment and or institute legal proceedings against anyone who might legitimize the baseless allegations. “We received calls from Welcome Dlamini of the Times and by then, we were aware of their plan. We took a position not to comment because we couldn’t understand why they were seeking to legitimize these unfounded allegations. Many things are written on social media about people, why they were then chasing these allegations to put them in the mainstream media? We told them that should they publish that, they would be responsible and might face legal action. That’s how the whole plan to tarnish our reputations failed” said the revenue boss.

But insiders within the media industry disclosed that getting comments from these public figures would have given the Times and Observer strength to publish the allegations as if they were giving them a platform to state their side yet they were fuelling and giving legitimacy to the allegations published by the faceless Swazi Secrets. Reached for comments, Welcome Dlamini, the Times journalist confirmed contacting the then Swazi MTN CEO now Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini, revenue boss Dumsani Masilela and Central Bank Governor Majozi Sithole regarding the allegations. The journalist said his intention was to verify if they were aware of the allegations that were circulating about them. Dlamini did not elaborate why out of all the allegations about people on social media, they choose to be hot on the heels of these particular public figures. “Yes, I did called boMasilela, Ambrose and Majozi. I wanted to verify if they were aware of the allegations in the Swazi Secrets” he said. But the most enigmatic part of the character assassination syndicate is the email that links Bongani Mamba, Mbongeni Mbingo and the Swazi Secrets. The email in possession of this Swaziland News Centre for Investigative Journalism contains highly defamatory allegations; some were later published on Mamba’s Facebook wall and the non-existing Swazi Secrets. Mbongeni Mbingo, the Swazi Observer editor, when questioned about the email that dates back to 2017, confirmed receiving and forwarding it to Swazi MTN Corporate Affairs Manager Mandla Luphondvo. As usual, Mbingo avoided the questions regarding the contents of the email and i’ts hidden political motives, he quickly sang praises to himself saying he was a professional. “The reason, I forwarded same to MTN was that I am a professional and verify allegations. I couldn’t just publish without alerting them. I am surprised that now you seem to be blaming me over an email that was forwarded to MTN, what was wrong with that?” said the editor. Swazi MTN Public Relations Officer (PRO) Mandla Luphondvo could not be reached for comments as his phone rang unanswered. But senior political sources in the corridors of power disclosed that Mbingo was actually seeking to re-publish some of the defamatory articles particularly contents of the email sent on or around 16 June 2017, however he was ordered to stop by the Swazi Observer management as MTN was threatening to withdraw advertising in protest against the biasness of the newspaper on the mobile company. On or around the year 2017, Swazi MTN management allegedly wrote a letter to the Swazi Observer Board of Directors complaining about the conduct of the editors of the newspaper against MTN. It later transpired that actually Mbingo was the “player, referee and Match Commissioner” by virtue of being the Managing Editor, Ombusman and the Sunday Observer editor that was Bongani Mamba’s stronghold. It has been disclosed that after the numerous complaints, Mbingo and Mamba allegedly changed strategies and the articles were published in the form of letters to the editor under Mamba’s name. An investigation by this publication further uncovered that actually editors in the newspapers would write articles themselves to target influential people by publishing allegations as ‘letters to the editor’. The alleged ‘letters to the editor’ would be published under anonymous ‘concerned citizens’ or any person who shares the common agenda as them.

On or around 17 December 2017, Mbongeni Mbingo, the then editor of the Sunday Observer allegedly acted with a common purpose with Bongani Mamba and caused to be published a highly defamatory article in a form of a “letter to the editor” under Councilor Mamba’s nickname “Yahhoshimamba”. Again, the contents of the article hand links to what was contained in the secret email and subsequently published in Mamba Facebook page. Furthermore, part of the contents emerged on Swazi Secrets a week later on the same month, December 2017. When Mbingo was questioned earlier in 2017 regarding the secret strategy of editors to write articles and publish them as ‘letters to the editor’ or collaborate with outsiders like Bongani Mamba who happened to share a common agenda with the media, the Chairman of the Editor’s Forum became defensive. “Ok Zweli, because you saying editors sometimes write ‘letters to the editor’ can you tell me who wrote the email that we are talking about?” he asked, to which this journalist responded that he cannot disclose names as by then, the investigations were still at preliminary stages. On or around 22 October 2017, via his Facebook account, Bongani Mamba sent correspondence to Mbongeni Mbingo, Kenneth Dlamini the then Observer news editor, Times’ Ntombi Mhlongo and other journalists who were allegedly on the late powerful businessman’s payroll calling upon them to stand up against the then Swazi MTN CEO now Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini and Sthofeni Ginindza, in what he described as “abuse of the media”. Indeed, what followed were series of baseless articles, some were published as letters to the editor under Mamba’s name. When questioned on this around December 2017, Mbingo subsequently became arrogant. The editor wondered why he was made to account for doing his job adding that he was not accountable to anyone, not even this journalist. “Bongani was writing his opinion, that was his opinion. Why do you think we are accountable to you?” he wondered. Mbingo, subsequent to other complaints bordering around misconduct, was removed as editor of the Sunday Observer, he was ordered by the employer to focus on his duties as Managing editor. “Now, in the Swazi Observer, we have a Managing Director who is very straight and honest. When he took over as MD, he discovered that Mbingo was a reporter, Sunday Observer editor, Ombusman and Managing editor of the entire Group of Newspapers. This created many problems as he was conflicted and was just told to focus on being a Managing Editor” said a Swazi Observer insider. It later transpired that the removal of Mbingo as editor of the Sunday Observer the then Councilor Bongani Mamba’s stronghold crippled the media syndicate, more false allegations emerged on Swazi Secrets. Eugene Dube, the former Times of Swaziland investigative journalist said he once instituted an investigation regarding the faceless Swazi Secrets. He said his preliminary findings uncovered that Bongani Mamba was behind the character assassination of public figures.

“Do you know this guy Bongani Mamba, he once worked for Arts and Culture. My preliminary findings uncovered that this guy was very close to Victor and he would sometimes use the businessman’s influence in the media to publish letters to the editor in the Times and Observer to promote the businessman and insult people in the process” said the ex Times journalist. But Dube said the mere fact that Mamba was busy insulting people while hiding his identity suggests that the allegation doesn’t deserve to be entertained because they lack credibility. “If what you are saying is credible, whether through social or the mainstream media, what do you hide your identity? This Mamba guy is fake and all what he has been writing about the public figures is fake ubhacelani? said the seasoned journalist. Government Spokesperson Percy Simelane when speaking to this Swaziland News on the subject matter said it just a matter of time before these “ghost heroes” who secretly push their agendas are judged. Simelane said Common Law insists on respect for human dignity in no uncertain terms. “Common Law insists on respect for human dignity in no uncertain terms. Our Constitution clearly militates against any form of attack against the dignity of another person irrespective of status, color or creed” he said