Now we know why Barnabas Dlamini, Swaziland’s illegally-appointed Prime Minister, was so keen to block publication of the report into his corrupt land dealings.
Dlamini was back and forth to the Swazi High Court over the past few days to make sure the House of Assembly didn’t reveal the contents of a select committee investigation into the purchase of government land at knock-down prices to Dlamini, a slew of other cabinet ministers, and other high-ranking government officials.
The High Court backed Dlamini but the House of Assembly ignored its ruling and tabled and discussed the report yesterday (30 May 2011).
And here’s why Dlamini was so keen on secrecy. The select committee report described the conduct of Lindiwe Dlamini, Minister of Housing and Urban Development, in the deals as corrupt and treasonous.
The report states that the authority for land deals was unconstitutionally taken away from the King’s Office, by Lindiwe Dlamini.
‘The act of the minister was not only unconstitutional but also seriously undermined the authority and sovereignty of the office of the Ingwenyama [theking] and was therefore treasonous.’
It goes on, ‘Even the Crown Land Disposal Regulations of 2003 were not complied with, which is a factor that justifies a conclusion that the conduct of the minister was in fact corrupt.’
The Swazi Observer reported today that Lindiwe Dlamini has been called to resign with immediate effect or the House would pass a vote of no confidence on her.
The Times of Swaziland reported that the select committee called on King Mswati III to dismiss the Prime Minister and the entire cabinet.
Below are the findings of the select committee chaired by Khubuta MP Charles Myeza, as reported by the Observer:
1.That the minister for housing and urban development acted unconstitutionally and with total disregard of the Crown Land Disposal regulations of 2003, which were promulgated in line with the provisions of the Crown Land Disposal Act of 1911.
2.That the plots listed were allocated to the following ministers:
n Prime minister : Lot 1082 of farm 2 measuring 6084 square metres.
n Deputy prime minister: Lot 872 of Farm 2 measuring 1 1362 hectares
n Minister of natural resources and energy: Lot 1081 of Farm 2 measuring 5 004 square metres.
n Minister of home affairs: Lot 1087 of farm 2 measuring 2 6307 square metres.
n Minister of economic planning and development: Lot 1088 of Farm 2 measuring 3 149 square metres.
n Minister of agriculture: Lot 1089 of Farm 2 measuring 2695 square metres.
3.That the decision to apportion Crown Land to the ministers was a cabinet decision: a decision that did not detail the procedure of how this land was going to be apportioned. The minster of housing and urban development was directed to facilitate that cabinet ministers get Crown land for their personal use.
4.That the Land Management Board’s initial directive to the land transactions was not honoured until much later, when the minister for housing and urban development acted as a result of authoritative pressure.
5.That only Lot 1087 has been transferred and registered in the name of Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze. The remaining plots had not been registered at the time of this enquiry.
6. that the argument by government on the absence of a law that operationalises the Land Management Board (LMB) is misplaced and irrelevant because the constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land that supersedes any other law, after all, it is the duty of the very same government to promulgate laws that would operationalise the LMB, not unless it is conceding failure on its part.
7. That the issue of apportioning land to some cabinet ministers was discussed in two forms. The first one was a concern on the inappropriateness of the accommodation of the prime minister at government house; and also the deputy prime minister who had no official accommodation at the time. The second one was when the minister of housing and urban development invited other cabinet ministers who wanted crown land to forward their applications.
8. That the cabinet ministers concerned used their positions to gain unfair advantage over other Swazis who had applied for the land many years ago, by-passing the Crown Land Disposal Committee in the process.
9. Several ministers did not take up the offer of land allocations for various reasons. Some stated that they were very sceptical with the manner in which the whole deal has been handled; some indicated that they were yet to file applications; whereas some did not need to purchase because they did not need the land.
One minister actually stated that, based on his past experience at cabinet and as a matter of personal principle, the whole deal of land allocations to ministers was irregular.
10. that the land in question is un-serviced land and this is illegal
11. That the valuation report for portion 1081 for Farm No. 2 Hhohho District (5004 square metres) apportioned to Princess Tsandzile, incumbent Minister for Natural Resources and Energy and a valuation report for portion 1082 of Farm No.2 Hhohho district (6 084 square metres) apportioned to Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini could not be traced by government senior property valuer from the official files.
12. That the prime minister has a copy of a valuation report of portions 1081 and 1082 signed R. Kalima (Former Senior Property Valuer) and the value of portion 1082 is E304 000.
Portion 1081 was valued at E250 000. Efforts by the current Senior Property Valuer, M.S Mpila, acting on instruction from the Committee to get hold of R. Kalima proved futile as he flatly refused to state where he was. What is noteworthy about him is that he erased everything in the computer he was using and the valuation report is not in the file as per the procedure.
13. That the current Senior Property Valuer, after being sent by the Committee to re-value all the plots, particularly Portion 1081 and 1082 of Farm 2 Hhohho District, submitted that the values of the properties as of Monday, 28th march 2011:
Portion 1081 of Farm No.2 Hhohho District:
Five Hundred and Fifty Thousand Emalangeni (E550 000)
Portion 1082 of Farm No.2 Hhohho District:
Six Hundred and Sixty nine thousand Emalangeni (E669 000)
This shows that the prime minister and the minister for natural resources and energy bought the land at ridiculously low prices. The most disturbing aspect is that the prime minister was awarded the certificate to develop his portion and designs approved without having paid for the plot and records show that he only did so on February, 22 2011, long after the Select Committee was appointed.
14. That the current administration has no respect for the constitution, as there are many laws that deal with land issues and until now they have not been aligned with the constitution.
15. That the Attorney General was never consulted on this land deal.
16. That the allocation of land to ministers through a cabinet decision was unlawful and it smacks of an element of personal aggrandisement since such action is not supported by any legal instrument. Receiving a housing allowance on the one hand and on the other hand apportioning crown land to oneself, is tantamount to theft of State property.
17. That the argument of accommodation being used as the driver to acquire crown land by ministers is dubious and baseless because they enjoy lucrative housing allowances good enough to acquire suitable and befitting houses for rent. There is not a single submission made by any minister to the fact that they ran short of houses for rent.
18. That there is neither a government policy nor a provision in the Circular No.1 of 2010, wherein it is stipulated that ministers will be allocated or apportioned crown land in the event they ran short of accommodation.
Since the circular is the only legal instrument that makes provision for salaries, benefits and allowances for politicians, including ministers, therefore, encroaching into other areas not covered by the said document is not only wrong but mischievous.
19. That the prime minister paid for the land on the 22nd of February 2011 exactly seven (7) days after he had received an invitation (in a letter dated 15 February) to appear before the Select Committee. He was scheduled to appear before the Committee on Friday 25th February 2011.
20. That, as a custodian of State assets and property, by virtue of its position in government, cabinet had no legal right to take a collective decision on the allocation of land to ministers, even worse, that in the process it violated the Constitution, 2005.
21. That, as of emulating the actions of their seniors, the Committee discovered that some members of staff at the City Council also helped themselves to pieces of land around the same time without adhering to legal procedures.
22. The Committee, during its deliberations, discovered that there were numerous irregularities that took place in the past, before the constitution was enacted and even after it had taken effect. However, the Committee’s mandate was confined to the terms of reference as directed by the House. It is the Committee’s considered view that not much time should elapse without this area being re-visited.
For more detailed reaction to the report see:
Times of Swaziland http://www.times.co.sz/News/29106.html
Swazi Observer http://www.observer.org.sz/index.php?news=25431
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