King intervenes on Central Bank division



BY : ZWELI MARTIN DLAMINI

MBABANE: King Mswati allegedly intervened in the stand-off between Central Bank of Eswatini Governor Majozi Sithole and his Deputy Prince Mhlabuhlangene Dlamini by removing and re-deploying the latter to head the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), senior political sources told this publication.

This Swaziland News Centre for Investigative Journalism gathered that the appointment of the Prince to head the EBC came in the midst of serious tension within the bank that was threatening the stability and the mandate of the institution at the time when the country was facing economic challenges. The division within the bank was discussed in the corridors of power and senior political sources disclosed that it was resolved that the King should be advised to remove the Deputy Governor or alternatively both of them so they could be unity within the bank. Reached for comments, Bheki Bhembe, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance did not deny that there was tension within the Central Bank; however he clarified that it would be difficult for him to comment on such matters as appointment fall above his jurisdiction. He was asked to respond to questions on whether they would be unity now within the bank as the Deputy Governor has be removed and given another assignment.

“I wouldn’t say there would be unity within the bank or not because unity remains a decision between two people who are willing to work together. You need to understand that it would be hard for me to comment further because such matters fall above my jurisdiction. The Governor is appointed by the King in consultation with the Prime Minister. The Deputy is appointed by the Governor in consultation with the Minister” said the Principal Secretary.

The King through the Attorney General (AG) Sifiso Khumalo announced the removal of Prince Mhlabuhlangene Dlamini as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) when making appointments of the various Governing Councils (Emabandla). His removal comes at the time when the bank was facing serious challenges with senior management divided into two factions, one supporting the Governor and the other loyal to the Prince. But senior political insiders disclosed that after the divisions started to manifest in the public domain, the matter was deliberated at the highest level and various options were considered on how it could be resolved.

“The first option was that the Deputy Governor should be removed and given a new assignment because even if Majozi can go as his contract had expired, anyone who might take that position was going to have a tough time working with Mhlaba. He strongly believed as a Prince he cannot be a Deputy to someone without Royal blood and there were those who were supporting him. The second option was that both of them should be removed and new people appointed to head the bank” said the senior political insider.

Sources very close to the matter further told this publication that the Prince’s ambitions to take over the position as Governor was dangerous to both the image of the bank and the country as he seems prepared to fight Majozi without considering the consequences of his actions to the institution that is crucial to the economic development of the country.

“He was prepared to do anything to make sure that the Governor’s contract was not renewed so that he can take over the position. The bank was divided into two at Executive level; others were sympathizing with the Governor while others were loyal to the Prince. Then you ask yourself, even if he succeeded in taking the position, how he was going to lead an institution that is divided? I think now Majozi should exercise maturity, he must call all the Executive Managers to a meeting and try to unite them. He shouldn’t victimize or try to remove those who were loyal to the Prince” said the senior political insider.

Efforts to reach Governor Majozi Sithole and the Prince were unsuccessful as both of them did not answer our calls. But Percy Simelane, the Government Spokesperson said he was not sure whether they would be unity now at the bank as a result of the removal of the Prince because he was not privy to the feud between the Governor and his Deputy.

“All personal jobs related files within Government are confidential. I would therefore not be in a position to know there was any move to separate the Governor of the Central Bank of Eswatini Mr Majozi Sithole and his Deputy Mhlabuhlangene. As such, we are not even in a position to know there is now going to be unity at the institution in question because we are not privy to their alleged feud” said the Government Spokesperson.

The Prince will now take over the position of Chairman within the Elections Commission, an institution that was also marred by serious conflicts and divisions involving the then Commissioner Ncumbi Maziya and former Chairman Chief Gija Dlamini. The Central Bank of Eswatini is one of the most sensitive and important institutions in the administration of the country. Its mandate among others, include formulating and implementing a sound monetary policy to achieve financial stability in the country as well as to regulate and supervise the financial sector to the end of achieving a sound and efficient financial system. The bank is also tasked with issuing currency including notes and coins and further holds and manages foreign exchange reserves of the country. The CBE also act as a banker, adviser and agent to the Eswatini Government on monetary and financial matters. Furthermore, it facilitates the development and operation of an efficient national payment system and acts as lender of last resort to financial institutions and facilitates the development of domestic financial markets.