Swaziland,Israel and the multi-million “spying” arms deal
JOHANNESBURG: Clayford Holding Corp, an international intelligence company with links to Israel Weapons Industries (IWI) was paid over R12million by the Swazi Government in a multi-million controversial arms deal that further confirmed allegations of spying by the State. This is contained in a bundle of documentary proof in possession of this Swaziland News publication, that further substantiate how part of the millions meant for the arms deal with Israel Weapons Industries were subsequently transferred to the “spying” company based in Singapore via the Manzini Branch of the First National Bank (FNB). The controversial arms deal comes just few years after the government of the United Kingdom (UK) blocked another $60million(about R720million) arms deal fearing the weapons could be used on the citizens of the country. Now, evidence has emerged substantiating how in 2013 the Ministry of Defence and Security entered into an agreement with Israel Weapons Industries for the supply of weapons. An independent investigation by this Swaziland News publication uncovered that government was allegedly equipping its security forces to deal with internal political conflicts in the midst of a political earthquake currently shaking the pillars of the ruling regime.
The documents further reveal designs suggesting that plans were underway for the construction of a weapon-reloading centre that would also be supplemented with a mobile one to be moved around the country and enable security forces to reload their guns.
“ As at 2013, all Government agencies in the Kingdom are making use of equipment supplied by IWI in Israel and through the establishment of this centre, local Swaziland armourers could be trained and skilled to provide fully turnkey repair and reloading services in the Kingdom. The proposal also includes the provision of a mobile centre that can be moved around the Kingdom should any one of the agencies have the need to mobilize its forces far away from the main centre” the document states. Army Commander Sobantu Dlamini declined to comment when asked about the controversial arms deal, but he later responded with a brief message wishing this journalist a good night. “Good night (nite) Martin Dlamini” read the message from the Army boss.
Assistance Superintendent Phindile Vilakati, the Swazi Police Deputy Spokesperson referred questions to her boss Superintendent Khulani Mamba who described the arms deal as a matter that borders on national security. The Police Spokesperson however failed to provide strong reasons to substantiate his sentiments.
“I don’t think you will get answers as it borders on national security,” he said.
But Emmanuel Ndlangamandla, the Director of the Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organization (CANGO) said whilst it is government’s prerogative to procure material that security forces may require, it becomes a concern when this is done to deal with protesters. The CANGO boss said the intention with regards to the procurement of the weapons undermines human rights enshrined in the Constitution. “Government amended the Public Order Act recently conforming to AGOA principles which paved way for the country’s admission to AGOA. How will action against peaceful protesters align to the Public Order Act? If government is concerned about simmering anger and frustration among the citizens due to economic hardships that include high taxes and services costs, zero increment for pubic servants, then government must address the problems. History tells us that when people overcome fear, they are unstoppable” he said.
On 24 August 2018 during a protest march in Manzini, King Mswati’s security forces shot at teachers with live ammunitions; one teacher was badly injured after a bullet was “planted” in his arm.
In a media statement, Zweli Mndzebele, the Secretary General of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) said the action by the police confirmed the alleged violation of human rights by the government.
“The action by the police buttresses the assertion that basic human rights and freedoms are violated with impunity in this country” he said. The shooting of civilians confirmed reports of the Guardian newspaper suggesting that the then $60million arms deal was blocked after the UK government feared the weapons could be used for “possible internal repression”. Speaking to this publication, Sifiso Dlamini, the Secretary General of the United Kingdom based Swaziland Human Rights Network said it was a matter of international concern that these reports of government purchasing weapons comes few days after the police used guns on teachers during a protest march.
“The eSwatini government continues to demonstrate its warped priorities of spending staggering amounts of taxpayer’s money on security services, acquiring arms and spying equipment all of which are then used on innocent members of the public at a time when the government, by its own admission, is broke. In December 2008, the government of eSwatini sought to purchase approximately 60milion USD worth of military equipment from British weapons manufacture Unionlet Limited, an order so mind boggling, the UK government stepped in to block after correct suspicions about the end user certificate. Here we are today, we learn that the shady government of eSwatini has sourced arms from Israel. eSwatini has not only descended into a banana republic under strongman King Mswati III but also has morphed into a Police State” he said.
Lucky Lukhele, the Spokesperson of the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) said as a political organization they condemn the purchasing of weapons, which he said was meant to protect King Mswati’s dictatorship rule. “Swaziland’s army exists primarily to protect the Monarchy from any dissent from Swazis themselves. Due to the fact that the King is illegitimate in power, the army has become an instrument of oppression. Specifically, the equipment bought recently is meant to crush protest marches and other forms of peaceful confrontations, which are investable in the present climate of gluttonous spending by the royal family while its citizens struggle to keep up with cost of living” he said. The SNN Spokesperson further condemned the government of Israel and Singapore for allowing its citizens to equip the Swazi dictatorship regime. “The Swaziland Solidarity Network condemns this barbaric act of using the Swazi people’s meager resources to maintain the monarchial dictatorship. It further condemn the governments of Israel and Singapore for allowing its citizens to prop up a dictator” he said. Vusi Shongwe, the President of Swaziland People’s Liberation (SPLM) said the purchasing of the weapons was influenced by the political uncertainties of alleged regime change, which he said was escalating in the country.
“This has been heightened by the increasing reports of regime change in Swaziland that has been gaining momentum in the last six months” he said.
The SPLM President said despite these reports of government purchasing weapons to be used against its citizens, Swazis must know that they are the ones who will liberate themselves from the oppressive ruling regime that has since resorted to extravagant spending and looting. Documents in our possession reveal that on 23 February 2016, Israel Weapons Industries submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Defense and Security for the provision of consolidated weapons maintenance, repair and reloading centre for the three security forces being the Military, Police and the Correctional Services.
The proposal that came, pursuant to series of meeting between officials from Israel and Swaziland was subsequently accepted through a letter dated 19 April 2016 by Dups Holdings’ Executive Chairman Philip Lobhengula DeSousa, one of the country’s most influential and politically connected businessman. DeSousa’s Dups Financial Solutions was part of the arms deal through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with the Ministry of Defense and Security. “ We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your proposal as submitted and for the input and participation to date relating to the above initiative. By way of introduction, we represent the financial sponsor that is supporting the building of the centre in Swaziland. The end user certificate (attached) is from our Government services” read the letter addressed to Israel Weapons Industries.
Philip DeSousa did not respond to questions sent to him requesting answers on the arms deal and the multi-million transactions. Documentary evidence suggests that on or around 12 July 2016, Philip DeSousa authorized $135, 698.84(about R1.7million in current exchange rate) being monies paid to Clayford Holding in respect of invoice 000165 and or being monies for the arms deal entered into with Israel Weapons Industries. The money transferred via the First National Bank (FNB) was in respect of the over R12million invoice submitted by Israel Weapons Industries to the Ministry of Defense and Security. Then on 03 August 2016, Philip Lobhengula DeSousa wrote to the Bank Manager at First National Bank directing the financial institution to transfer the said amount to Clayford Holdings bank account held DBS Bank Singapore.
“Kindly transfer the equivalent of $135, 698.84(One hundred and thirty five-thousand, six hundred and ninety-eight American Dollars and Eighty-four cents from my account and the given account below” the letter states. The bank to which the money was transferred to is situated at 12 Marina Boulevard, DBS Asia Central, and Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3 Singapore, 018982. It could not be ascertained why the money was diverted to Clayford Holdings bank account but preliminary findings of our investigations suggest that it was in respect of spying equipment that was part of the arms deal. Evidence in our possession further reveal that on 18 April 2016, before the transaction was authorized, Philip Desousa met Crag Alexander who was representing Clayford Holdings in other separate multi-million business deals where Dups Holdings was involved. The agenda of that separate meeting cannot be disclosed for now pending a comprehensive investigation by this Swaziland News publication. The meeting held at Dups Conference Mall was also attended by among others Ndumiso Mamba, the former Minister of Justice, Mvuselelo Fakudze, the then PriceWater Coppers Partner now Standard Bank Chief Executive and Mphilo Dlamini.