MBABANE: King Mswati allegedly ordered Judges of the High Court to drop the court case involving Hlane sugarcane farmers with the intention of abusing his absolute powers to grab the multi-million project funded by the European Union(EU).
This is contained in a bundle of documents including an affidavit dated 22nd September 2016 signed by the then Attorney General(AG) now Supreme Judge Majahenkhaba Dlamini who confirmed that the King commanded that Judges must drop the case and refer it to himself who possesses authority over the land.
King Mswati rules Eswatini as an absolute Monarch with Executive, Judicial and Legislative powers, many unsuspecting investors are victims of the King's absolute powers after their businesses were grabbed by royalty with impunity.
It has been disclosed through the documents that the AG was part of a Cabinet meeting with the King at Lozitha Palace on or around 13th September 2016 where the dispute involving the farmers was raised before His Majesty, insiders told this publication that the dispute and confusion among the residents was systematically influenced by the King's Hlane Royal Council as a justification to take over the project.
Initially, the dispute intensified after the Hlane residents ran to court seeking justice, this was after King Mswati’s relative Gadla Tfwala, a brother to Queen Mother Ntombi Tfwala and senior member of the Hlane Governing Council who was acting on behalf of royalty forcefully grabbed the sugarcane project.
“I was present at Lozitha Royal Residence with Cabinet on the evening of 13th September when the dispute between the two groups of cane farmers was raised before His Majesty. His Majesty’s response was that the Farmers were settled on his advice on Swazi Nation Land( of which His Majesty is a trustee). His Majesty further clarified that the dispute between the two groups of the sameness should not have been taken to court. His Majesty accordingly instructed that the dispute should be removed from the Court and be refered to him as the grantor of the land concerned” read an affidavit filed by the then Attorney General.
Judges Mzwandile Fakudze, Mbutfo Mamba and Ticheme Dlamini subsequently issued a court order on the strength of the affidavit by the then AG who was acting on behalf of the King.
“The matter is struck of the roll and referred to the appropriate authority as per the Confirmatory affidavit of the Attorney General dated 22nd September 2016 and its party shall bear its own costs”, read the court order in part.
Reached for comments, Sibusiso Nhlabatsi, a human rights lawyer said it was wrong for the courts to deny the residents justice as the High Court has original and unlimited jurisdiction on civil and criminal matters and can interpret even Customary Law.
"They can make a decision on matters touching Swazi Law and Custom as Judges, because referring the residents to traditional structures amounts to denying them justice. If you refer them to a traditional structure, most of these traditional structures are not impartial, and do not apply themselves on the facts especially when the issue touches on the authorities of the country. So you rather have a Judge hearing the matter and if the matter requires Customary Law experts, those experts must assist the Judge on the issues of facts and Customary Law, not to deny a litigant justice and refer the matter to traditional structures" , said the human rights lawyer.
On or around 09 November 2016, after bullying the Judges through the AG to drop the case, King Mswati allegedly sent former Prime Minister now Tibiyo TakaNgwane Managing Director Absalom Themba Dlamini, Senator Sylvia Mtsetfwa, the then Lubombo Regional Administrator(RA) and Moses Vilakati, the then Agriculture Minister to inform the Hlane residents that he was taking over the project.
Addressing the Hlane residents who were members of Takhamuti Farmers Association, the former Prime Minister who was acting on behalf of the King informed the residents that the absolute Monarch was very angry that he was taken to court hence he was taking over the project adding that the Constitution would not apply saying the King himself 'is the Constitution'.
“The King is very angry that he has been taken to court by the residents and he has sent me to inform you that for that reason, he is taking over the project and has appointed his own Committee to oversee it. Utsi Okandaba ngalesizatfu lesengisibekile, lama-Association lekutsiwa akhona lana, atawufa, they are dissolved. Kute lenye Association letawuba khona lana, akuna-Constitution itosebenta lana,i-Constitution ngiyo iNgwenyama(meaning: The King said just because you took him to court, he has decided to dissolve all Associations here, no Constitution will apply, the King is the Constitution” ,said the Tibiyo TakaNgwane Managing Director(MD) in an audio recording in possession of this publication, he was addressing the residents during a meeting held at Hlane Inkhundla.
A questionnaire was sent to the Tibiyo MD where he was asked to respond and clarify why the King grabbed the project from the residents, however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
Reached for comments, Senator Sylvia Mtsetfwa, the then Lubombo Regional Administrator who was part of the meeting confirmed knowledge of the matter but declined to comment further saying she was no longer the Regional Administrator.
“I am aware of the matter but can’t comment because I’m no longer the Lubombo Regional Administrator” ,said the Senator briefly.
Reached for comments by this Swaziland News, Boy Nketjane, the Chairman of Takhamuti Farmers Association said they now live in poverty such that even their children dropped out of school after their project was grabbed by the King and the Royal Hlane Council.
“We literally struggled to establish this sugarcane project such that we even approached Swazi Bank for a loan and after realizing that the loan was not enough, we wrote to the European Union(EU) seeking assistance and indeed, we received funding. It\'s very painful that just when we were enjoying the dividends after working hard, the project was grabbed from us and now we are living in poverty and our children are dropping out of school” ,said the Chairman.
A questionnaire was sent to Government Spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini, however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
It has been reported that this is not the first time royalty grabbed projects meant to assist Swazis living below the poverty line, Tibiyo TakaNgwane, the Swaziland Women Economic Empowerment Trust(SWEET) are some of the various projects established by Swazis that were grabbed by royalty.
When this publication reached Gadla Tfwala, the brother to the King\'s Mother and influential member of the Hlane Governing Traditional Council , he dropped the call after several attempts by this investigative journalist.
It has been disclosed that the residents who are members of the sugarcane Association tried in vain to have their matter addressed through the courts and the traditional structures, however, all their efforts were unsuccessful as the matter involves the King.
Reached for comments, Mlungisi Makhanya, the President of the People’s United Democratic Movement(PUDEMO) said as a political organization, they consistently warned Swazis that the King with his absolute power remains the biggest problem in this country.
“We have been saying as PUDEMO that the biggest problem in this country is the King with his absolute power. This is the time to rise-up, we call upon our people to participate in the process of bringing change in the country, otherwise the suffering will continue” ,said the PUDEMO President.