MBABANE: King Mswati's nation-wide land grab and evictions continue to create more tensions after it intensified and spread to Lomahasha in the Eastern parts of this tiny Kingdom of eSwatini, hundreds of citizens who survived through subsistence farming are without shelter and food.
These new developments come after residents of Vuvulane, Mafutseni, Nokwane, Mandonsa,Ezikhotheni and other areas were forcefully evicted by the King and his allies from their land to give way for projects that benefits the royal family.
An independent investigation by this Swaziland News uncovered that on or around 15th April 2021, Jabulani Mabuza, the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives who was acting on behalf of King Mswati arrived at Lomahasha to formally inform the residents that the King and royalty were taking over Nkalashane Farm.
This comes few weeks after this publication reported that the King allegedly colluded with Finance Minister Neal Rijikernberg to change ‘ownership’ of Farms in the country owned by Ingwenyama in Trust for the Swazi Nation to his Silulu Royal Holdings(PTY) LTD through highly questionable 99 years lease agreements.
Speaking to this Swaziland News on Sunday, Sivulane Mahlalela, the Governor(Indvuna) of the Mahlalela clan regiments confirmed that the Minister of Agriculture arrived at Lomahasha on Thursday to formally inform them that royalty was taking over the Nkalashane Farm, however, he said they were totally against this as they have a huge Mahlalela population within the area that should occupy the land to construct homes and practice subsistence farming.
The huge Mahlalela clan that intends to take up arms against the land grabbing at Lomahasha by Mswati and his royal family is ruled by King Mlambo, it is alleged that the Nkalashane Farm was the only fertile land to which the traditional authorities hoped would accommodate the residents and their future children.
“Kufike Minister lana watositjela kutsi singasalimi lapha eNkalashane, watsi sekunebantfu labatsetse sekusayiniwe(meaning: It’s true, the Minister arrived here to inform us that we must stop cultivating at Nkalashane because some people had taken over the Farm and documents have been signed.The Mahlalela clan under King Mlambo will send emissaries to get clarity on this and if need be, we must meet Ingwenyama(King Mswati). This thing started when we saw white people farming here without our Knowlegue and we reported this to our King, the King of the Mahlalela clan. King Mlambo doesn't want to hear anything about this land being grabbed from us because the Mahlalela clan has a huge population that needs this land” said the Governor.
Efforts were made to reach Jabulane Mabuza, the Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, however, his phone rang unanswered. A questionnaire was then sent to Sabelo Dlamini, the Government Spokesperson who was asked to respond on behalf of the King and the Minister, however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
On Saturday, 17th April 2021, this publication reported that 89 Mandosa families were homeless after they were evicted by the royal linked Eswatini National Provident Fund(ENPF) that claims ownership of Farm 319. The evicted residents that include women and children had acquired the land at Mandosa Chiefdom through the Swazi Law and Custom(Kukhonta), however, they were subsequently taken to court by the Eswatini National Provident Fund(ENPF) that claims ownership of land under Farm 319, King Mswati's brother Prince Lonkhonkhela is the Provident Fund Chief Executive Officer(CEO).
When reached for comments ,Colani Hlatjwako, the One Billion Rising Africa Coordinator said the justice system continued to fail women and vulnerable groups in the country. She also applauded the selflessness demonstrated by the women who are facing evictions.
“On Thursday, we had a meeting with the women who are facing eviction at Madonsa, the only thing that these women are asking for is to have land where they can stay with their children .They said they can’t leave behind the child headed families, which is a commendable selfless act”, said the Coordinator .
In an earlier interview with this publication, Robert Shivambu, the Amnesty International Media Manager for East and Southern Africa said they were deeply concerned with the forced evictions in Eswatini adding that they forced people into poverty.
“We will put pressure on the government to stop these evictions because they have negative consequences for the people who are directly involved .We are saying to the government they must halt these evictions because they are going to throw people into poverty,” he said.