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OPINION:R200million Inyatsi lawsuit against FESBC an intimidation tactic, Executive Michello Shakantu must drop the case and dialogue.

Monday, 18th December, 2023

Without demonstrating an intention to undermine the authority of the courts by expressing an opinion on a pending matter,it is worth mentioning that,Inyatsi Group Holdings Chairman Michello Shakantu is ‘fueling’ the ongoing tension by filing the R200million lawsuit against the Federation of Eswatini Business Community(FESBC) merely for filing a complaint with the Eswatini Competition Commission(ECC).

Perhaps,let me state that,I once intended filing a R5million lawsuit against the Times of eSwatini for alleged defamation but through my engagements with other international journalists,I decided to drop the matter because as an international journalist I didn’t want to be seen fighting or suing another newspaper.

Engaging with other experienced journalists at global level helped me to understand that,when you file a lawsuit,sometimes you can destroy yourself trying to prove a point or teach others a lesson just because you feel you can afford lawyers.

I decided to engage with the Times editors and other international journalists told me that, “even if the newspaper was wrong, you must learn to dialogue” before fighting through the courts, a lawsuit should be the last option.

Even if you feel you are capable of fighting and win your battles,it’s important to dialogue first and then seek an alternative remedy in the event the dialogue fails.

Indeed,through that advice I was able to calm down because the truth is; you may claim that a newspaper has defamed you today but tomorrow you will need the very same newspaper.

It’s not easy to prove an intention to defame not unless you have Judges in your pockets but, in the matter between Inyatsi and FESBC it won’t be easy for any corrupt Judge to manipulate it because, it’s a clear piece of nonsense and we are following it very closely.

Inyatsi Group Holdings Executive Chairman Michello Shakantu needs proper and genuine advice, he must drop the lawsuit and engage FESBC.

After all,this is not a genuine lawsuit but Inyatsi is on an intimidation mission to discourage questioning on clear issues of public interest.

As mentioned above in the matter with the Times,sometimes you may feel that, you have been defamed and get angry but, you have an obligation to analyze or ascertain if there was an intention to defame or that individual was exercising his/her right.

Well, I may agree with Michello Shakantu on the issue of the Inyatsi Group brand, as a businessman, it’s not easy for him to fold arms and watch his reputable an internationally recognized brand making headlines for the wrong reasons, running or managing a company to reach Inyatsi Group status is not easy,it calls for hard work.

But reporting Inyatsi Group Holdings to the Eswatini Competition Commission does not, in any way,amounts to corporate defamation, in fact the lawyers who filed that lawsuit compiled a piece of nonsense just because they want money from Michello Shakantu.

Lawyers have an obligation to advise their clients about consequences of going to court and the prospects of success,I deal with many lawyers, some lawyers and Judges are my close friends but I cannot go around suing people for expressing themselves against me just because I have power or connected to powerful lawyers and Judges.

Power and money is dangerous even to the one who holds it,sometimes you can destroy yourself trying to prove that you are powerful and politically connected,power needs maturity.

Inyatsi boss Michello Shakantu is rich and powerful, he must be advised accordingly,you can’t sue indigenous businesspeople for expressing themselves against you or your companies because,as this matter escalates,the public will sympathize with local businesspeople and start targeting  the companies under Inyatsi Group Holdings.

I am not a lawyer by profession but as the editor, I sometimes receive court papers or letters of demand from lawyers trying to intimidate me.

But the journalism experience has enabled me to identify a lawsuit or a letter of demand that amounts to ‘nonsense’, the lawsuit filed by Inyatsi Group against FESBC is a piece of nonsense.

Freedom of expression is enshrined in the Constitution and FESBC wrote to the Competition Commission to express a genuine concern that Inyatsi Group is buying giant companies and that is  violating the principles of fair competition, whether FESBC is wrong or right but the truth is; they reported to a legitimate institution.

The lawsuit filed by Inyatsi Group against FESBC is a threat to freedom of expression in the entire country because should the courts conclude that,reporting or filing a complaint with legitimate institutions like the Competition Commission amounts to defamation, that would mean, citizens might be sued for reporting a case with the police or expressing themselves on matters of public interest.

It is the duty of the Competition Commission to respond to FESBC and say “no you are wrong, Inyatsi did not violate the Competition Act but followed the law when buying the companies”.

As a businessman, Michello Shakantu must understand that,the court of public opinion is superior than the judiciary, once the poor and frustrated emaSwati conclude that,Inyatsi is using it’s financial power to bully FESBC,chaos will erupt in this country.

In any business environment a conflict of business interests might erupt and those business interests must be managed professionally.

I am not a Judge to decide who is right or wrong between Inyatsi Group Holdings and FESBC.

But I’m eager to see the Judge who will rule in favour of Inyatsi Group and conclude that local businesspeople were wrong to express themselves by writing to the Competition Commission.

Ngifisa kulati lelo-Jaji kutsi ingabe lakabani sibongo.Ngubani Sikhulu salo,Indvuna neMgijimi.


OPINION:R200million Inyatsi lawsuit against FESBC an intimidation tactic, Executive Michello Shakantu must drop the case and dialogue.
FESBC President Tum DuPont.