MALOMA: King Mswati has 'sold' the multi-billion Maloma Coal Mine to powerful and politically connected Inyatsi Director Michello Shakantu, the husband of Justice Minister Pholile Dlamini-Shakantu.
Maloma Mine was owned and operated by Chancellor House with 50% shareholding, the royal controlled Tibiyo TakaNgwane(25%) and the King's eSwatini Government with 25%. The shareholding arrangement suggests that King Mswati was indirectly 'owning' 50% of the Mine through his government and Tibiyo TakaNgwane as no dividends were ever remitted for the benefit the Swazi Nation in accordance with the Minerals Act that stipulates that the King holds mineral shares in trust for the Swazi Nation.
An independent investigation by this Swaziland News uncovered that the multi-billion transfer of the Mine and the involvement of the King in the mineral deal has seen workers struggling to receive their terminal benefits according to labour laws, King Mswati rules the tiny Kingdom of eSwatini as an absolute Monarch and cannot be sued according to the country's Constitution he signed in 2005 and elevated himself to be above the law.
On Tuesday, 30th March 2021, some Maloma workers allegedly held a night vigil within the company’s premises, demanding an explanation from the Management regarding the circumstances surrounding the sale of the Mine.Insiders told this publication that the tension erupted after the employees noted that the Mine was now operated by new Directors yet nothing was formally communicated to them regarding their terminal benefits.
Reached for comments, Wander Mkhonza, the Secretary General of the Almagated Trade Union of Swaziland(ATUSWA) confirmed the matter saying the situation was slowly getting worse at Maloma, he blamed the Management for being secretive about the issues surrounding the sale of the Mine.
"We wrote a letter to the Management after receiving information that the Mine that was previously operated by Chancellor House was being sold to a local company because as a union representing workers, we were supposed to be engaged. The Management responded to our letter confirming that the Mine was being sold, however, they said the transaction was yet to be finalised. They told us that Tibiyo will continue holding 25% shares and Government(25%) and the 50% will belong to Company X and when we investigated, we discovered that Company X is Inyatsi. The problem here is that the Management is not telling the workers the whole truth, however, the law is clear that in the event a company changes Directors, workers must be paid their terminal benefits. If the terminal benefits are not paid by the outgoing Directors, an agreement must be signed that the new Directors must pay the workers within 30 days but the Management of Maloma is not being transparent on this issue" ,said the ATUSWA Secretary General.
A questionnaire was sent to Government Spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini where he was asked to respond on behalf King Mswati, however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
Reached for comments, Mzwandile Dlamini, the Maloma Human Resources Manager said he was not the rightful person to respond to the media about this matter, he requested a questionnaire saying he would forward the questions to the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) whom he described as an authorised person to speak to the media about this matter.
"I am not the rightful person to speak about this matter, please send me a questionnaire via email,I will forward it immediately to the CEO who is the authorised person to speak to the media" he said.
A questionnaire was sent to the Human Resources Manager as per his request, however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
An independent investigation by this Swaziland News, uncovered that the proposed new shareholding arrangement suggests that the King and his royal family will own almost 100% of Maloma through the 50% owned by Tibiyo and his Government, the multi-billion Tibiyo TakaNgwane investment has links with Inyatsi and or its Directors.
When this publication contacted Michello Shakantu, the Inyatsi Director, he dropped the phone immediately after learning that this investigative journalist was seeking a comment. A questionnaire was then sent via his mobile phone where he was asked to explain the circumstances surrounding the sale of the Mine and the payment of workers' benefits, however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
Reached for comments, Wandile Dludlu, the Secretary General of the People's United Democratic Movement(PUDEMO) said as a political organisation they were not shocked with the new developments at Maloma as these were the results of King Mswati's absolute powers.
"These are the results of King Mswati's absolute powers, in this country we have a royal family that owns everything even minerals. Tibiyo, Tisuka, Silulu and other royal entities were designed to benefit the royal family while enforcing inequality and promoting poverty among the population. We have minerals in this country that can change this country for a better life for all but that is not happening and it will not happen until we change the system of governance",said the PUDEMO Secretary General.
Eswatini has about 70% of the population living below the poverty line, however, the King was named by Forbes as one of the richest Monarchies in the world, he owns shares in mineral companies, telecoms, agriculture among others.