HLANE: The European Union(EU) has intervened after King Mswati and his Royal Council forcefully grabbed a multi-million sugarcane project from poor residents of Hlane who are members of Takhamuti Farmers Association.
This comes after an investigative article published by this Swaziland News that exposed how King Mswati allegedly sent Tibiyo TakaNgwane Managing Director Absalom Themba Dlamini to grab the multi-million sugarcane project that was established by the residents through the assistance of the European Union(EU) to assist them fight poverty.
Reached for comments, Boy Nkentjane, the Chairman of Hlane Takhamuti Farmers Association who, together with other residents including widows were forcefully removed by the King and his Hlane Royal Council from their project confirmed that he received a call from officials from the European Union inviting him for a meeting over this matter.
“It's true, I received a call from the European Union inviting me for a meeting tomorrow(Friday) over this matter, they told me they saw the articles in the Swaziland News and now taking up this matter. I cannot divulge further details but they asked me to come with the list of members of the Association who were expelled by the King’s Royal Council. We are very happy that finally this matter is now being addressed after the suffering we went through”, said the Chairman.
This publication reported that on or around 09 November 2016, King Mswati allegedly sent Absalom Themba Dlamini, the former Prime Minister now Tibiyo TakaNgwane Managing Director to forcefully grab the multi-million sugarcane project from the residents. Evidence in our possession including audio recordings substantiates that Dlamini, when addressing the residents at Hlane Inkhundla said no Constitution applied in the country as the King himself was the Constitution.
The residents tried to approach the courts, however, King Mswati allegedly sent the then Attorney General(AG) now Supreme Court Judge Majahenkhaba Dlamini to intimidate Judges ordering them to refer the matter to himself as the King and Ingwenyama.
King Mswati, an absolute Monarch with Executive, Judicial and Legislative powers subsequently abused his powers to grab the sugarcane project from the Hlane farmers.
“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, Mlungisi Makhanya, the President of the People's United Democratic Movement(PUDEMO) said while they appreciated the positive effort to address the challenge faced by the residents, they expected the EU to act honestly and demand accountability of every cent that was pumped into the Hlane project.
"The EU must demand accountability of every cent that was pumped into that Hlane project. We are aware that in some projects, people were resettled to give way to sugar projects but they were never compensated", said the PUDEMO President.
A questionnaire was sent to Government Spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini, however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
Eswatini, a tiny Kingdom situated in Southern Africa and ruled by King Mswati who is counted among the richest Monarchies in the world has about 70% of the population living below the poverty line, some of the citizens across the country who survive through subsistence farming are currently being evicted by the King from their land.