MBABANE: Cabinet has resolved that the internet should be shutdown this evening to disrupt the official launch of the newly formed Swaziland Liberation Movement(SWALIMO), an independent investigation reveals.
The political movement formed by pro-democracy Member of Parliament(MP) Mduduzi Magawugawu Simelane who was subsequently removed as a Legislator would be launched on Friday(19th November 2021), Pan-Africanist Professor Lumumba of Kenya would be one of the main Guests.
Electronic evidence obtained by this Swaziland News investigation Unit suggests that the issue of shutting down the internet was discussed by Ministers in a Cabinet\'s WhatsApp group on Friday around 11am, Foreign Affairs Minister Thulie Dladla urged Information Minister Princess Sikhanyiso to switch it-off before 8pm.
“For today all hope silibeka ku cc wetfu, cc Skha akenze ladume ngazo just a few minutes to 8 atsele umhlabatsi ekudleni internet nje a shut(meaning: We have placed our hope on Sikhanyiso, she must do what she is known for, just before eight(8) the internet should be shut down)” read the message shared by the Foreign Minister.
Labour Minister Phila Buthelezi submitted that as Cabinet they couldn't allow a fugitive to manipulate the country using State infrastructure.
The then Siphofaneni MP who is critical of King Mswati is wanted by the police on politically motivated criminal charges, he formed the new political movement while in exile.
“We can’t allow a fugitive to manipulate the country using State infrastructure”, said the Labour Minister.
But the communication between the Cabinet Ministers suggests that Commerce Minister Manqoba Khumalo had also moved that the internet must be shutdown to which Foreign Affairs Minister Thulie Dladla posted a ‘laughter’ in support of Minister Khumalo statement.
“Ayivalwe le-internet(meaning: let’s shutdown the internet”, said Minister Manqoba Khumalo, to which Minister Thulie Dladla responded,
“Uphi cc Skha?(Where is sister Skhanyiso)”.
Reached for comments, Maxwell Masuku, the Principal Secretary(PS) in the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology(ICT) said at that moment there was no instruction forwarded to them to shut down the internet.
The PS said they would eventually shutdown the internet upon receiving a formal instruction from Cabinet.
“If you say you have information that they are discussing it now, it means they are still discussing among themselves then they will forward a formal instruction to us for implementation. The last time we did this, we only shutdown social media because it was being abused, industries like banks were functional because the internet was fine. So I think even if we receive that instruction it would be targeting social media”, said the ICT Ministry Principal Secretary who works with Princess Sikhanyiso.
The electronic evidence further suggests that in the midst of the discussions among the Cabinet Ministers, Princess Sikhanyiso emerged around 10:47am and commented.
She said Foreign Affairs Minister Thulie Dlamini was the Mover of the decision to shut down the internet while Commerce Minister Mancoba Khumalo was the Seconder.
On another note, Human Rights Lawyer Sibusiso Nhlabatsi, in an earlier interview with this publication described the shutting down of the internet as a gross violation of human rights.
Eswatini, a tiny Kingdom situated in Southern Africa and ruled by King Mswati as an absolute Monarch has about 70% of the population living below the poverty line, human rights are violated with impunity.
Reached for comments, Mduduzi Magawugawu Simelane, the then Siphofaneni MP who is critical of King Mswati and his Government said the regime was afraid and trembling hence they shutdown everything that might enlighten the people.
“We are aware that the Government is afraid and trembling, they shutdown everything that seeks to enlighten the people. It is for these reasons Bacede and Mthandeni are in jail and I am in exile. But even if they can shutdown the internet, Swaziland News will be there tomorrow, it will be recorded and the people will watch it”, he said.
ICT Minister Princess Sikhanyiso