The Botswana National Front (BNF) has rubbished the appointment of Swaziland’s King Mswati III as the Southern African Development Community Chairperson.
The Swazi king was appointed SADC chair at the recent SADC 36th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government held in his country.
BNF, which is a senior partner in the opposition Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) coalition, bemoaned the restrictions on democratic ideals in the HIV and Aids ravaged Kingdom.
A statement released by BNF read in part: “Currently, there is no constitutional democracy in Swaziland. Political parties remain banned in that country. King Mswati and his Queen mother Ntombi have absolute authority over the judiciary, legislature and cabinet.”
It further continued to state, “several trade unionists, journalists and other civil society activists have been harassed, tortured, beaten, arbitrarily arrested, imprisoned and some without trial and worse some killed under mysterious circumstances with no action being taken against the known security agents.”
BNF continued to state that it condemns the handover of the chairmanship to a leader who has poor and embarrassing human rights credentials and “calls on local progressive trade unions, media houses and the general civil society to join it in condemning the handing over of the SADC Chairpersonship to Swaziland.”
The continent’s last absolute monarch took over the SADC chairmanship from Khama, whose one year term had come to an end. Khama himself inherited the chairmanship from Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
At the beginning of Khama’s term, continental pundits were analysing that his tenure at SADC was signaling the time when the bloc was being gifted “some long-sought teeth to reject dictatorships, rights abuses and electoral fraud in the sub-region.”
But, however, in his time as chairman of the regional bloc, Khama will mostly be remembered for coaxing Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili in a closed door discussion, to receive a damning report on the assassination of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Brigadier General Maaparankoe Mahao.
Mosisili was refusing to receive the SADC commissioned report on the basis that there was a case before the courts back at home against the appointed commission led by Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi. Ironically, it had been Mosisili who had sought SADC intervention amidst the uncertainty that engulfed his nation after General Mahao’s shock assassination.
Mahao was shot and killed on the way from his farm mid last year by a crack team of fellow army comrades, allegedly on basis of the allegation that he was ring leader of a plot to oust LDF command.
Mswati, whose country has for so long been reliant on donor funding reportedly remarked in his acceptance speech that: "SADC and the African continent as a whole had relied too much on donors and some of the projects had failed to take off when partners had no money. This calls for the region to remain united and to speak with one voice at all times,"
He has further reportedly pledged that his kingdom will start a SADC university.
"The kingdom of Swaziland wishes to dedicate the establishment of a SADC University of Transformation, which will be our next milestone in our journey which started in 1990. The university will deliver in education and training terms, using the technical vocational training model of delivery," Mswati was quoted as saying
The socialist and republican Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) has been the most vocal anti-Swazi monarchy since its formation in 1983 at University of Swaziland (UNISWA).
The party was banned in 2008 after the enactment of The Suppression of Terrorism Act and some of its leadership has largely been based in neighbouring South Africa ever since.
When PUDEMO Vice President, Gabriel Nkhumane was killed in 2008, suspicion was flying thick and fast that he had been victim of Swazi security apparatus. Nkhumane had been at the time one of the key organisers of the annual blockade of goods to Swaziland from South Africa,an annual blockade aimed at choking Mswati’s economy.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.