Mbabane-Newly appointed Eswatini Government Spokesperson, Alpheous Nxumalo says he is not aware that the widespread incidents of arson attacks across the country can be attributed to either the pro-democracy or pro-monarch elements.
Nxumalo made this comment in response to a questionnaire from the Independent News publication. His comment comes in the wake of much publicized arson attacks which seem to target both pro-democracy and pro-monarch individuals such as the Minister of Tinkhudla Administration and Development David Cruiser Ngcamphalala whose homestead was torched in December 2021.
It is believed that Ngcamphalala’s homestead was identified as a target for to an arson attack following an incident on the 12th of April 2011 in which the Minister was leading a team of police officers from the Operational Support Service Unit (OSSU) that brutalized pro-democracy protestors in Manzini. At the time Ngcamaphalala was a senior member of the Royal Eswatini Police.
Ngcamaphalala was also noted to have told parliamentarians “Honourable Members of Parliament, don’t bother yourself about the youth that only barks on social media, these people don’t decide the outcomes of elections because they don’t even vote.” This statement incensed youth especially as it was made after the June 29 uprising in the country where a preliminary report by the Human Rights Commission suggests that 46 people were killed. Leaders of political parties and civil society however, suggest that they were able to identify more than 70 fatalities.
Another high profile, pro-monarch individual whose home was subjected to an arson attack was the Principal Secretary, of Defence, Prince Sicalo. The prince’s house, which was still under construction, at Mbekelweni, was petrol-bombed in April
In a juxtaposition, and in the same month, the Secretary General of the Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO), Wandile Dludlu’s car was petrol bombed. Although no one claimed responsibility, pro-monarch forces were suspected.
On 20,05, 2022 another motor vehicle of PUDEMO and founding member of the Eswatini Kombi’s, buses and Allied Workers Union (EKABAWU), Muzi Nhleko was torched. Nhleko recently led the executive of the public transport workers union to Parliament.
It is true that in most of the arson attacks there have been no claims of responsibility by any groups, but the nature and trend of the incidents certainly point to members of the two political pressure groups that have split the nation. However, in March 2022, Swaziland International Solidarity Forces allegedly claimed responsibility to burning cars belonging to police officers at the Mbabane Police Camp.
Nxumalo’s position on the arson attacks is that these are criminal activities “the solution to such criminal activities is for the law to take its cause. Criminal activities remain as such irrespective of the motivation for committing them. To be hungry for example gives no one the right to indulge in the criminal activity of stealing food.”
With regard to the much-awaited National Dialogue, Nxumalo says he is in no doubt that it will take place at some point. “my only concern is the environment which is now fraught with the continued escalation of violence, coercion and intimidation by the so called pro-democracy forces. Dialogue cannot happen when the nation is under siege and held hostage by forces of change who disregard the fact that we have a legitimately and constitutionally elected government in office and we have a national constitution to uphold and adhere to.” He denies that he is a member of the newly formed political movement Mangololo. Nxumalo says “my stance on political parties in the country is the constitutional position. Political parties remain legally unsanctioned to operate in the country. There is no legislation that provides for their respective establishment and operations. Political parties the world over are a creation of law and not sentimental ad-hoc networks of lawlessness.”
He says he is yet to consolidate a vision for the Government Spokesperson portfolio as he needs to communicate with a number of entities within government before he can disclose his possible contribution. His goal is to synchronise governments communication from all the departments into one voice in order the amplify the communication to the masses about governments activities.