Swazi Prince forces villagers to contribute E200.00 monthly for his lifestyle


Prince Gasa WaNgwane


BY : EUGENE DUBE

LAVUMISA :Life is literally a struggle for poor villagers in this poverty-stricken community of Lavumisa,they are forced to contribute E200(about $13) to sustain an extravagant lifestyle of their Chief, Prince Gasa-WaNgwane.

Lavumisa, an area that was severely hit by the 2016 drought, is situated in the Southern part of the tiny Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland) and it has been disclosed that most citizens are urgently in need of food aid and other basic necessities of life. An investigation by this Swaziland News uncovered that despite the social challenges affecting the residents in this area, they are forced to contribute E200.00 per homestead every month, for their Chief to enjoy a good life. However, a subsequent investigation into the financial status of the Prince uncovered that he was in gainful employment, working as an officer of His Majesty’s Correctional Services.

Ellias Fanlakhe Ndzinisa, the Lavumisa Royal Kraal Senior Governor confirmed that villagers contribute money towards the well-being of the Prince, he said this was simply to help him with money for groceries. The Governor disputed sentiments by insiders who alleged that part of the money was used to pay rent for the Prince who resides at Ngwane Park in the suburbs of Manzini. “It’s true we do collect money from the subjects but its not strictly meant to pay rent for the Chief, but to assist him with some groceries. We get E3,600 monthly from all the 18 Royal Kraals under the authority of Prince Gasa WaNgwane in Lavumisa,” said the Governor.

The traditional leader further clarified that the E200.00 was not paid by a homestead, but a statutory contribution from each chiefdom under the Prince. But an independent investigation by this publication uncovered that part of the money was sourced from villagers who were found guilty by the Traditional Courts for various offences. This was also confirmed by the Governor when reached for comments by this publication. “If a subject was charged and subsequently found guilty by the traditional court, he or she is fined cash and that money goes into the fund meant to sustain the Chief,” said the Lavumisa senior Governor.

Reached for comments, Gcinile Malinga, a villager in the area consistently maintained that the E200.00 per month was not paid by each chiefdom, but per homestead. “The Royal Kraal demands E200.00 per homestead for the Chiefs rent, that’s what we were told by the traditional leaders. This money is too much as you know that our area was ravaged by drought. Jobs are scarce here, where can we get that money for the chief,” she said.

When this Swaziland News asked the Prince to respond to these allegations leveled against him, he denied ‘forcing’ the subjects to contribute money to sustain his lifestyle. The Prince, without denying that he receives money from villagers said he normally takes decisions acting on the recommendations of the various traditional councils under his chiefdom hence he might not be aware how this was implemented. “I have traditional councils and principals who deal with such matters and it would be better for you to talk to them,” he said.

When questioned further on the subject matter, the Prince said just like the King, he might not be aware of everything that his subjects were doing. “Just like the King, I cannot be aware of everything that happens within my area. With this, I am trying to make you understand that I am not the one pushing this program but my governors are doing so on my behalf. There are those who are in charge of this program,” said the Chief. Senzo Nkambule, a resident of the area narrated how life was a struggle for them in this area and appealed to the highest authorities to rescue them from these chiefs. “We sometimes share food, we are broke! We appeal to King Mswati III to save us from our chiefs. We are not employed and the government is not creating job opportunities for us. The local traditional leaders also want money from jobless residents” he said. Nkambule’s sentiments were enchoed by Zinhle Ngcamphalala, a resident at Qomintaba who told this publication how they sometimes went to sleep without food. “My family members rely on piece jobs, which are also scarce; we sleep without food at times. Then we cannot afford paying food and rent for our chief,” she said. An independent and outspoken traditional leader Reggie Lukhele said the Governors who implemented this program were wrong as this might eventually influence the villagers to rebel against the Chief. “How can one force subjects to rent a flat for a chief? A chief is suppose to live with his people in the village. These governors who are forcing the villagers to pay money for the chief are very wrong, a chief is supoose to live in the royal kraal,” he said. Lukhele, a Governor at Vusweni Royal Kraal under Maseyisini Constituency which is outside the jurisdiction of the Prince further consistently mantained that what the Chief did was in complete violations of Swazi Law and Custom. “In our Swazi culture, we do not pay monies towards a chief’s monthly groceries. The residents can freely provide anything like maize-meal, pumpkins to feed their chief. No money must be demanded from the subjects for the chief’s family,” said the Governor.