Friday, July 1, 2011


John Scott

29 June 2011


Whatever happened to Ndumiso Mamba, the man who cuckolded King Mswati?

I ask this because Swaziland is again in the news, now seeking R10 billion from South Africa to bail it out of a financial crisis and to enable King Mswati III to go on living the high life with umpteen wives, refurbished palaces, 20 new BMWs, overseas trips and a personal fortune of R1.3 billion.

In August last year (2010) Mamba, then still minister of justice, was allegedly found in bed with the king’s 12th wife, the 22-year-old former beauty queen Mswati Nothando Dube, at the Royal Villas Hotel, near Mbabane.

Her husband was understandably upset. Even though he already had 12 other wives, sharing any of them was not part of the deal and Mamba was asked to take early retirement from the cabinet. The London-based Mail Online claimed that if convicted of “trespassing into another man’s home” (which is the Swazi law’s quaint description of having it off with another man’s wife), Mamba could be executed.

But in Swaziland there is strict censorship of the media – almost as strict as South Africa’s proposed Protection of Information Bill – and newspapers were prohibited from speculating why Mamba had been fired only two years into his five-year term of office, though they all knew the reason.

If Mamba were to be charged, convicted and executed, the government couldn’t do so without explaining what he had done to deserve so drastic an end to his promising political career.

So instead, the Times of Swaziland tried to work out how much Mamba would receive in severance pay, fully aware that his majesty would have liked to sever something else that belonged to his ex-minister. Noting that the minister had resigned “for reasons that have never been officially made public”, the newspaper cited Finance Circular No 1 of 2010 which entitled Mamba to a package commensurate with the number of years he had served.

This, they decided, with three months’ notice pay, amounted to R626 000.

Then they made another little reference to the reasons for Mamba’s resignation. It was “amid the so-called circulation of allegations around the country and beyond, about him”.

It reminds me a bit of a former South African Minister of Indian Affairs who was found having an affair of another kind on his secretary’s desk late one afternoon. The then prime minister, John Vorster, promptly fired him on |the basis of ill-health, though he was |the youngest and healthiest member of the cabinet. But at least there was no question of the randy minister being executed.

Nor do I think that Mamba has been hanged, which is how they do away with capital offenders in Swaziland. In fact nobody has been executed there since 1984, mainly because they can’t find a suitably-qualified hangman.

The prime minister, Sibusiso Dlamini, told local editors it was difficult for politicians to get jobs after serving in government (and presumably even more so if they were caught in flagrante delicto with a queen).

He said they deserved compensation “for working enthusiastically and loyally for the country”. No one questioned Mamba’s enthusiasm. He just had a funny way of expressing his loyalty to the king.

If he is still without a job, and now part of the 70 percent population below the poverty line, I hope some of the R10bn filters down to him.

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