Senator Isaac Magagula’s role on eSwatini ‘silent genocide’



BY : ZWELI MARTIN DLAMINI (OPINION)

Senator Isaac Magagula, the then eSwatini National Commissioner of Police demonstrated political hypocrisy when he moved a motion in Parliament calling upon the Executive to submit a report on how the drug shortages in the various hospitals would be addressed.

The term ‘political hypocrite’ normally refers to a forked tongue politician whose decisions are influenced by changes in the political climate. A political hypocrite can take a decision today and summersault the following day, depending on the changes in political temperatures. The National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula, as he then was, allegedly unleashed a battalion of armed Police Officers to brutally assault nurses and other civil servants who were protesting against government failure to address the health crisis at its preliminary stage. Those nurses and or civil servants were trying to address an issue that was, in one-way or other, affecting every citizen of this country. Indeed, those nurses took to the streets after witnessing a “silent genocide” where hundreds of citizens died as a result of government failure to provide drugs in hospitals, but the police responded with brutality as commanded by the then National Commissioner Isaac Magagula. It should be noted that Magagula did not only undermine the right of citizens to health care, but he further subjected civil servants to inhuman treatment and deprived them of their right to protest as per international law.

Apart from the protest march organized by the Swaziland Nurses Association, the police, through the directive of Magagula thrashed series of demonstrations seeking to address the now health crisis in the country. Now, Senator Magagula, like a chameleon and perhaps due to the minor changes in the political landscape that saw him demoted, strives to portray himself as the defender of the right to health care, what a shame! It is very disturbing to see a man whose decisions contributed to the current social and economic injustice, manipulating Parliament to disseminate pure “political nonsense”; he is actually undermining our intelligence. Perhaps, Magagula due to his age has forgotten that the late Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini commissioned an investigation into the drug shortages in our hospitals. The investigation whose terms of reference was to uncover reasons behind the crisis, was lead by Prince Sikelela Dlamini, the late former Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology (ICT). The report was presented to the late Prime Minister at the Cabinet offices in 2017; I was there with other local journalists when PM misled the public on why the country was in a health crisis.

But instead of addressing the problem, the report accused civil servants of dereliction of duties that resulted to the crisis; that was far from the truth. As a former Police Chief, Senator Magagula cannot claim ignorance, that the current silent genocide in our hospitals was never a natural disaster but a product of this corrupt and oppressive government under the authority of King Mswati. As a result, the Senator, instead of playing politics in Parliament, should go straight to Lozitha and ask his boss, why he bought a private jet while there were no drugs in hospitals. Magagula, instead of influencing a Parliament probe, whose findings would be kept under the carpet, should ask the King how he feels to fly with a jet while citizens are dying as result of shortage of drugs.

One of the reason this country is facing drug shortages today is corruption, billions of Emalangeni were stolen by royalty and top governments officials, as a result, government is broke and now failing to sustain its social obligations. Senator Magagula, like Barnabas, should not waste the limited government resources to investigate an issue, knowing that he does not have the capacity to address the real cause of the problem, poor citizens desperately needs food aid and access to health care not an investigation. Furthermore, Isaac Magagula should understand that Parliament is not a ‘playground’ like the police institution where he used to command officers to kill innocent citizens and subsequently commission investigations whose findings were manipulated to imply those victims committed suicide in prison cells. In Parliament, Magagula will no longer issue orders but will be subject to the collective decisions of Senators, hence must stop misleading the House by influencing a ‘wild goose chase’ probe.

We know why this country is in such a mess and we need solutions, anyone who is in power and claim ignorance of such is a political opportunist. Senator Magagula should appreciate that the benefits he used to enjoy while National Commissioner could have been used to purchase drugs in our hospitals. The salary that was used to pay the senior police officer tasked to make sure the then National Commissioner looks good in his traditional attire during events could have been used add resources in our hospitals. It is my observation that Isaac Magagula would have gained public support if his motion in Parliament was calling upon the Executive Arm of Government to reduce his salary by 50% so the money could be used to pay the drugs suppliers. Let me emphasize that the situation in the various hospitals needs money to buy drugs not an investigation, this is not the police service where investigations are conducted to push political ambitions of the Executive command.

Senator Magagula should understand that this government and the royal family masterminded the ‘silent genocide’ in our hospitals by stealing public funds that could have been used to buy drugs for the citizens. The problem with this Senator was that every time he was dressed in a police uniform with those ‘borrowed robes’, he would conduct himself in a manner that imply he was the most smartest individual in this country. It should be noted that to be appointed by King Mswati does not mean you are the most intelligent person in this country, sometimes the King appoints low minded people as a way of rewarding them for pushing his interests. This country wouldn’t be in such a mess if the King was appointing intelligent people with a strong political backbone.

Senator Magagula enjoyed huge benefits that contributed to the current crisis and we not expecting him to portray himself as an advocate of the right to health care. Instead, Magagula, like all our relatives who died as a result of the self-made health crisis, should pray not to be counted among the hundreds who are now victims of this ‘silent genocide’. This is because the Senator’s age suggests that he might consistently seek medical treatment, like all senior citizens. If not re-appointed in the coming years, he might regret jailing or “commanding” the police to kill people who were raising genuine issues like the health crisis, in the interest of this country. The Senator was part of the most dangerous political syndicate in our lifetime. We witnessed the killing of innocent citizens with impunity; no one is calling for an investigation to ascertain who were behind the killings.

But apart from the huge mess that manifested in this country when Barnabas, Isaac and his political syndicate were in power, we witnessed the beating of nurses who were protesting for a genuine concern, the health crisis. Isaac Magagula should count himself lucky that he still enjoys freedom of movement, unlike Ayanda Mkhabela who was forced to disability by his battalion of police officers during a protest march at the University of Swaziland (UNISWA). Mkhabela cannot access adequate health care; she was just forced to disability with impunity by Magagula’s officers who reduce citizens to stray dogs. But Magagula is privileged that his children, unlike Ayanda, walks freely in the streets and even went to the extent of using his “trimmed” power to try and intimidate journalists who are questioning the corruption and injustice in this country.

Then the question is, as a country, why did we gave such powers to Isaac Magagula, who despite that he can easily be captured, lacks emotional intelligence? A whole National Commissioner who was always quick to arm a battalion of police officers and set them to a single unarmed citizen including journalists. Senator Magagula should understand that Ayanda Mkhabela’s parents might not be privileged to speak for themselves in Parliament but we will hold him accountable for the killings by the police and beating of citizens who are now disabled. It is now evident that as a country, we committed a mistake by giving weapons to a ‘lunatic’ who, instead of protecting the people used them to kill citizens and further forced a young Swati to disability. It was very unfortunate that an old man, who seems to have gone out of ideas on how to transform this country, shattered Ayanda’s dreams and now the ‘poor’ woman, cannot access health care.

Every person in this country deserves to be treated with human dignity and no citizen should be killed, forced to disability or arrested for exercising freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constitution. It would be unjust, for the country to exempt Magagula from the fatal blunders he committed while in charge of the police service, he must account.

Isaac Magagula should first lobby the Executive Arm of Government to provide reasonable compensation for Ayanda Mkhabela who was forced to disability by the police before speaking the “political nonsense” in Parliament. He should have moved a motion calling upon the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate and seize properties for politicians who looted government; those assets could be sold so the country could address the health crisis. But apart from this mess, the former National Commissioner has been protecting corrupt thieves who were looting money from public coffers; it doesn’t click in his head that this is the same money that could have been used to pay the suppliers in the government hospitals. No wonder this country is in such a mess, we have low-minded politicians who think with their stomachs.

Senator Magagula, while National Commissioner, was commanding influence and many known corrupt individuals like the late PM were his friends. As a police officer, as he now still claims he is, never investigated why these corrupt people around him accumulated those millions and end up capturing state institutions. Instead, Magagula would send battalion of police officers to anyone who dare challenge the corrupt individuals and went to extent of faking criminal charges as an intimidation tactic. In conclusion, let me strongly warn Parliament and the country at large to keep a constant eye on Isaac Magagula, for he has proven to be a “political wolf” in a sheepskin, his blunders will cost the country at international level. Some of the blunders committed by the former National Commissioner are now documented in world reports and this include forcing journalists to exile, then we expect Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to improve? Magagula’s lack of emotional intelligence in dealing with issues will destroy this country, he seem to think and act with emotions instead of using mind and apply intelligence before taking a decision. But we are watching with keen interest as these political wolves destroy this country, it will take years to restore it.