Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Was Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed prime minister, acting corruptly for personal gain when his government scuppered a deal made by the state-owned Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC)?

A report just released suggests that Dlamini was acting for his own benefit in a decision to stop SPTC from setting up mobile phone operations in competition with the privately-owned MTN, which has a monopoly of cell phone services in Swaziland.

Dlamini owns shares in MTN.

A report from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) accuses the Dlamini-led government of being ‘confused’ and ‘economical with the truth’ (diplomatic-speak for ‘telling lies’) on the controversial matter involving the intended sale of shares held by the SPTC on behalf of government in MTN Swaziland.

OSISA, in a review of Swaziland for the period May – July 2009, reports, ‘It would seem that SPTC had engaged government on a huge project that would see the public enterprise set up a mobile unit under a new company called Horizon. To avoid unfair competition and conflict of interest, SPTC had to dispose of the shares in their possession.

‘The whole project had been marred by controversy (For details of that controversy click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) with disgruntled workers fighting against it, claiming that it would cost them their jobs. The tension became so high such that in June, acts of sabotage were allegedly staged by the workers to force management to stop the project.

‘Worse still, at the eleventh hour government stopped the sale of the shares saying that it was not aware of the matter. The Minister for Information Communications and Technology, Nel’siwe Shongwe, issued the denial and subsequently dismissed the entire SPTC board.’

OSISA concludes, ‘It should be recalled that the current Premier owns some shares in MTN Swaziland; hence it would not be wrong to suspect that his stopping of the SPTC project was informed by capitalistic and self-benefiting intentions.’

OSISA also thinks the whole affair paints a negative image of Swaziland abroad and will put off possible foreign investors.

To read the full OSISA report. Click here.


Following publication of the above report I received this statement from OSISA.

‘Please note that the ‘publication’ was at no time released by OSISA. In fact the document is an internal OSISA document and OSISA is surprised and disappointed that a document that was not for public consumption is being distributed without our consent and without prior discussion. It was not meant for external publication and sharing and indeed we are not prepared to stand behind these allegations of corruption. Please note that OSISA is only prepared to make such allegations public once we have thoroughly investigated a situation.

‘We have not done so in this case and wish to distance ourselves from the assertions that indeed the Prime Minister is corrupt. We have our suspicions, but it would be irresponsible to put this information into the public without further investigations.

‘Best regards,

Sisonke Msimang

Executive Director

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa’

web: www.osisa.org

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