Mbabane: The Chairperson of Letfu Sonkhe Institute of Strategic Thinking and Development, Mandla Hlatshwayo has accused the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of National Defence and Security, Prince Sicalo of embarking on a trip to Russia to procure arms of war.
The Letfu Sonkhe Institute of Strategic Thinking and Development which is based in Gauteng South Africa is an organization formed by Emaswati in the diaspora. It seeks to provide an interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners, educators, and politicians to meaningfully engage and discuss the ongoing political and socio-economic challenges in Eswatini.
Speaking on behalf of the organization, Hlatshwayo condemned the trip to Russia saying “the King and the Royal family continue to dismiss the demands of the people for reforms and treat the intervention efforts by Southern African Development Community (SADC) with disdain and contempt. The King is talking with forked tongues. In public he calling for dialogue yet in private he is preparing for war.”
Hlatshwayo has called on SADC, the African Union, and the United Nations to intervene and stop the shipment of arms and further escalation of violence by the King. He says “the effort to bring more arms of war into an already volatile political environment that has experienced large scale state-sponsored violence and a nation-wide reign of terror perpetrated by the security forces on a defenseless population, resulting in over 96 people killed, over 500 injured and over 1000 arrested, is a recipe for disaster and must be stopped.”
“These developments will dampen public confidence in the SADC intervention efforts at a time when trust between the King and the citizens of Eswatini has already been destroyed. This could only spell disaster and plant the dangerous seed for citizens to also arm themselves in self defense leading to a senseless civil war” says Hlatshwayo.
Further to this, Hlatshwayo mentions that the conduct of the security forces, as well as their Commander in Chief, has long passed the threshold of committing crimes against humanity under international law, to which Eswatini has to adhere to or face the strongest international rebuke.”
Letfu Sonkhe Institute has appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the people of Russia to stop the purchase of Arms by the King. The organization states that “If the purchase and shipment of the Arms are allowed it will contribute to more violence and deaths leading to more instability in the region.”
Responding to these allegations the Director of Communications in the King’s Office, Percy Simelane refuted any suggestion that Prince Sicalo has made a trip to Russia. Simelane even invited the publication to present itself at the Princes’ place of work in order to verify his presence.
He further went on to dismiss all claims that the Commander in Chief had any role to play in the procurement of Arms of War with the objective of unleashing them on defenseless citizens. According to Simelane, there is no effort on the part of the state or King Mswati to undermine the efforts by the SADC to intervene in the political and social instability that has gripped Eswatini in recent times. He described Hlatshwayo’s utterances as “a projection of political sterility where tired and obsolete tactics to downgrade and demonize Eswatini’s leadership become the order of the day. We don’t understand why World War II propaganda used by Adolf Hitler applies in politics 70 years down the line.”
In an attempt to further ascertain the truth behind Prince Sicalo’s trip to Russia, the Communications Officer in the Ministry of National Defence and Security, Tengetile Khumalo was requested to substantiate the allegations. Khumalo confirmed that the Principal Secretary was indeed in his office carrying out his regular responsibilities.
According to Senior Superintendent Detective Clement Sihlongonyane who is one of the lead investigators mandated to determine any incidents of violence in Eswatini. As well as any matter dealing with the unrest in the country also denied having any knowledge of a planned trip to Russia or any intention to purchase arms of war by the government or the Prince for that matter.