Mbabane: The name of Her Majesty, the Queen Mother, who is the mother of the reigning king of the Kingdom of Eswatini Mswati III, has been dragged into South Africa’s on-going high-profile probe – Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, currently playing out in Parktown, Johannesburg.
The Queen, also known as Indlovukazi in local circles was drawn into the famed probe by South Africa’s former Chief of State Protocol Bruce Koloane when testifying at the Zondo Commission in July 2019.
The embattled Koloane was defending himself against accusations that he played a huge role in facilitating the Gupta Waterkloof landing in 2013.
In July, Koloane admitted before the inquiry that, in his role as former Chief of State Protocol, he had abused the powers of his office to facilitate the Gupta Waterkloof landing.
He also admitted he had “name-dropped” to pressure officials to expedite the processing of the flight clearance request.
The Gupta family landed a commercial aircraft at the air force base without permission back in 2013. It carried about 200 guests who were invited to attend the family’s lavish wedding at Sun City.
Waterkloof Air Force Base works’ responsibility is to receive aircrafts of Heads of State, Deputy Heads of State, and defence top brass. Despite this, Koloane facilitated the landing of the Guptas and told the commission that it was not for the first time that Waterkloof received someone who is neither a public office bearer, Head of State or Deputy Head of State as Indlovukazi has landed more than once for private medical visits.
Testifying before inquiry Chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Koloane, who resigned as South Africa’s Ambassador to Netherlands in September 2019 said: “The mother of the King of Eswatini has landed on a few occasions at Waterkloof on a private medical visits, so what we do is just process, but as to what criteria they (department of defence) used to allow her to land or not the land is fundamentally the responsibility of defence, ours is to process or rather we are the conduit if I may use the word of interaction between diplomatic missions and defence when it comes into landing at Waterkloof.”
Koloane went on to say: “And I am sure the chair will agree with me that the mother of King the King of Eswatini is neither a public office bearer, a politician, nor a Head of State, but she has landed not once at Waterkloof. And again if you would ask me chair sitting here what criteria was utilised to decide that she can land, I wouldn’t be able to answer like I said earlier that is the principal domain of defence.”
Later on, Koloane later admitted that he unduly used former President Jacob Zuma’s name to put pressure on officials to clear the landing of the Gupta plane at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013. He however has denied personally benefiting from facilitating the unlawful landing. The former State Protocol Chief has been implicated by several witnesses as the key figure behind the landing.
A staunch traditionalist who elected to comment on condition of anonymity told Independent News that Koloane is a person who is misinformed about the composition or structure of Eswatini Royal Family. The traditionalist said, in 1986, when His Majesty King Mswati III was crowned and upon becoming king, as was the custom, he declared his mother to be the Indlovukazi (a title roughly corresponding to Queen Mother, literally translated as Great She-Elephant) and, as such, joint Head of State. “As Queen Mother, Indlovukazi is seen as the spiritual and national Head of State, while King Mswati III is considered the administrative Head of State,” the traditionalist clarified.
The traditionalist said he was alarmed by the remarks made by Koloane because Indlovukazi is recognised even in the western countries as her image was widely disseminated since her inclusion in Andy Warhol‘s portrait series during her exercise of the regency for her son, as one of four Reigning Queens at the time, along with Queens Beatrix of the Netherlands, Margrethe II of Denmark and Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.
In response to Koloane’s comments, Government Spokesperson Percy Simelane told Independent News: “We have no record of the Queen Mother (Indlovukazi) imposing her status on any one or institution responsible for giving Aviation Landing Rights anywhere in the world. She did not personally ask for landing rights.”
Simelane went on to say aviation cases such as this one are handled at aviation level and responded to by authorities of the host country who include security personnel.
“I am not in a position to say how the Queen Mother is regarded in other countries but in Eswatini she is Queen Mother and the Mother of the Nation revered with awe by all normal thinking persons in all spheres of Morality,” he said. The government spokesperson said where she (Indlovukazi) is supposed to land is decided by the host country officials.