Monday, March 17, 2014


Musa Ndlangamandla, a former speechwriter and praise singer for King Mswati III, has accused a member of the Royal Family and a top civil servant of pocketing bribes worth up to E4 million (US$ 400,000) during the construction of Swaziland’s new airport.

Ndlangamandla, who was at one time editor-in-chief of the Swazi Observer group of newspapers, which are in effect owned by the King, also alleged a major contractor was paid twice to build the runway at the King Mswati III Airport that was officially opened on 7 March 2014.

Ndlangamandla, who now works for the Mail and Guardian newspaper in South Africa, made his accusations in his Facebook page.
He called for an investigation into the way contracts for the building of the airport, formerly known as Sikhuphe, were made.

The airport has cost E3 billion (US$ 300 million) so far to build. It opened more than four years behind schedule and no airlines have signed up to use it. No needs analysis was undertaken before the project started and no business plan exists now that it has opened.

The airport is widely seen outside of Swaziland as a vanity project for the King, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.

On his Facebook site Ndlangamandla called for the following:

  • a forensic audit by a reputable international firm on the project, from inception to the selfie. I suggest you involve the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Global Financial Integrity.
  •  a judicial commission of inquiry to study the report of the audit, hold public hearings on how the money was spent, how the costs escalated from R500 million to R3 billion, who benefitted from corrupt and fraudulent practices and how ill-gotten gains can be recovered to the state.
  •  investigate a princely minister [member of the Swazi Royal family] and a PS [principal secretary] who received underhand payment. One PS received a payment of E4 million.
  •  investigate former and current officials of the institutions and contractors that dealt with the project - whether from Swaziland or elsewhere in the world.
  • investigate double payment to Inyatsi for construction work on the runway, first R200 million in 2009 and another R200 million in 2011.
  • how much of the SACU receipts, donor and other funds which were meant for education, health and other viable projects were diverted to the airport project.
  • the judicial commission should also be led by a judge of unquestionable integrity and preferably who is not in the local bench.
  • to study all reports about the technical integrity of the project especially the apron and runway. 

Ndlangamandla added, ‘The judicial commission should have power to order prosecution of all and anyone found to have receive ill-gotten gains. To strip anyone of any immunities that may render them non prosecutable or above the law. Have the full power, authority and sanction to subpoena anyone, everyone and all types of evidence they may require to further the objectives of the commission.’

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