Thursday, May 7, 2015


Barnabas Dlamini, the Swaziland Prime Minister, has been derided across social media after it was revealed he had been passing himself off as a ‘doctor’ for more than five years when he had no such qualification. 

Dlamini had been given an ‘honorary’ doctorate from the University of Swaziland, an institution that does not run doctorate programmes, and where most of its students study for diplomas that are below bachelor degrees.

This is not the only time the bogus doctor allowed his vanity to get the better of him. In 2010 he accepted an award for being a global humanitarian from an organisation created by a well-known con-man, Rudy King.

Even though the con was exposed and reported in international media and Dlaimin had been informed he was being tricked, he still travelled to the Bahamas at the Swazi taxpayers’ expense to receive his medal. On his return to Swaziland, he continued to deny that he had been conned.

It started in September 2010, when the Swazi Government issued a statement to say Dlamini was to be honoured by the World Citizen Awards (WCA). It said the medal was being given to the Prime Minister, ‘as a person who has accomplished and made numerous contributions to mankind’. He was also described as a ‘highly respected global figure, whose role in history has been significant.’ 

WCA described itself as a ‘private- charitable foundation whose main objective is to give proper recognition through the conferment of awards of excellence and distinction to individuals or groups worldwide who have distinguished themselves as brilliant exemplars of society or who contributed toward the attainment of peace and respect for human life and dignity.’ 

The media in Swaziland reported the announcement uncritically even though only weeks earlier Dlamini had been condemned internationally after he said critics of his government should be tortured by having their feet whipped. 

Two months previously in July 2010 Amnesty International issued a special plea for its supporters to protest about the Dlamini government, ‘because political activists, human rights defenders and trade unionists in Swaziland were at risk of harassment, ill-treatment and arrest, as the authorities use draconian counter-terror legislation to investigate a spate of government-targeted petrol bombings’.

Although the media in Swaziland fell for the story, proper journalists elsewhere smelt a rat. How could someone with Prime Minister Dlamini’s history of human rights violations be considered for a global medal as a humanitarian?

Africa Contact in Denmark and Swazi Media Commentary unearthed the con-trick in a matter of hours.
They went to the Internet and found the website for WCA. On there they found a list of trustees who were said to be the backbone of the organisation. Each person listed had a reputation as advocates for human rights and it seemed odd that they would vote to give Dlamini a medal.

Each of the trustees was emailed and within hours one of them replied to say he was the victim of a hoax.  It turned out that none of the trustees had ever heard of WCA and certainly were not supporters.

The globally-respected Associated Press (AP) news agency took up the story and realised that the WCA was a sham organisation consisting only of a website and an accommodation address.

Once the AP story hit the Internet, journalists in the Bahamas who knew Rudy King of old ran reports about his background as a con-artist. 

All this was revealed before the award ceremony took place on 2 October 2010. Despite the overwhelming evidence that he was the victim of a con-trick, Prime Minister Dlamini flew to the Bahamas and collected his medal.

On his return to Swaziland Dlamini refused to accept he had been conned. He told the Swazi Senate that the award was legitimate because people of ‘high stature’ were present with him at the awards. Among the people of ‘high stature’ were Ashford and Simpson, a singer-songwriter duo who last had a hit in the 1980s. 

Dlamini told a news conference, ‘In 2005 he [Rudy King] gave an award to a prince [David], gave a medal to Prince Guduza in 2007 and to the prime minister in 2008, so what is the difference now in 2010? His history in Swaziland is rich. This is the fourth medal he has presented to Swazis but now the focus is on 2010.’ 

The only difference between 2010 and the previous years was that proper journalists refused simply to rewrite the Prime Minister’s press releases and instead did their job. Rudy King had conned them all.

To this day, Prime Minister Dlamini probably thinks he is considered as a ‘highly respected global figure, whose role in history has been significant’. Rudy King probably does not care. After he finished conning the vain Prime Minister he moved on.

In August 2014 the Nassau Guardian, a newspaper in the Bahamas reported Rudy King was up to his old tricks. This time The King Global Humanitarian Foundation and an outfit he called Celebrating Women International (CWI) claimed to be raising funds for HIV and AIDS causes when it was not. 

The newspaper reported CWI had been soliciting women from across The Bahamas to receive awards for their contributions to society.

The newspaper added King had been indicted twice in the United States on fraud charges.

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