Monday, October 17, 2011


David Matse, the Swaziland Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, has now officially been sacked from the Swazi Government.

He was ‘suspended’ three weeks ago after he refused to sign a letter sacking High Court Judge Thomas Masuku. Masuku has been the centre of a judicial crisis in Swaziland where lawyers have been boycotting the courts for 10 weeks in his support.

Masuku has refused to be bullied by Michael Ramodibedi, the Swaziland Chief Justice, and has been outspoken in the defence of an independent judiciary in the kingdom, ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

Matse is replaced in the Swazi cabinet by Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze. Barnabas Dlamini, the kingdom’s illegally-appointed prime minister, went on state radio to say that the position of Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs had to be held by someone who ‘knows how to work with the powers that be’.

Also sacked from the Cabinet is Information and Communication Technology Minister, Neliswe Shongwe. She has been in the news recently for her refusal to support the prime minister who wanted her to break the law in a dispute over which company should provide phones in Swaziland.

Lutfo Dlamini has been demoted from Foreign Affairs to Labour and Social Security. Lutfo has been under a cloud since January 2011 when it was discovered that he had taken money from the Kuwati Royal family intended for King Mswati and kept it for himself. He was saved from the sack by the Queen Mother, with whom he has been pursuing a close relationship.

In a statement posted on its website today (17 October 2011), the Swaziland Government stated the reshuffle changes ‘are aimed at revitalizing and re-engineering Government’s machinery to run with vigour and renewed strength toward realizing the major priorities of the Kingdom of eSwatini.

‘At present, the main focus of His Majesty’s Government is to find a lasting solution to the challenges currently faced by the country.’

There is no doubt that Swaziland is in deep trouble and is on the verge of bankruptcy, but it is unrealistic to believe that shuffling around the ministers who have failed to save Swaziland so far will make any difference.

A more likely reading of the reshuffle is that Prime Minister Dlamini has punished those ministers who have stood up to him and refused to be bullied. The changes may mean that he now has a tighter control over the government and what little dissent there has been from within cabinet will now be silenced.

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