MBABANE – Government says its doors are open to engaging emaSwati in exile in talks about forgiveness.
Alpheous Nxumalo, the Government Press Secretary, said forgiveness would always go via the path of accountability. Nxumalo said repenting emaSwati wishing to come back home should be ready to be subjected to a process of full disclosure regarding atrocities committed against their fellow countrymen. These included members of the security forces who were gunned down in cold blood in broad day light. After they had been subjected to a full disclosure, he said they could be considered for immunity for their heinous crimes. The spokesperson said Eswatini is a State that was committed to justice and the rule of law. “There are no shortcuts to liberation and forgiveness,” he said.
The government press secretary said Cebile Shongwe, popularly known as ‘Cece’, was subjected to another form of gender-based violence (GBV) if it was true that she was recruited and hoodwinked to exile in the way and manner in which she narrated in a circulating video clip. He issued the statement in reaction to the circulating videos posted on social media by ‘Cece’ on the treatment she received in exile. He mentioned that after seeing the video clip for ‘Cece’ circulating on social media platforms, wherein she was apparently expressing anguish and frustration for having been prematurely hoodwinked by a certain gentleman to resign her job and go to ‘exile’ in order to engage in an illegitimate and fraudulent ‘struggle’, government was obliged to say something.
He said government would like to further reiterate that it was upholding and maintaining an open door policy, which was guided by international and humanitarian law. The government spokesperson pointed out that the open door policy related to those subversive and militants elements who were repentant of their violent and terroristic activities and were ready to come back home. Nxumalo urged them to take responsibility for their past activities and also embrace a rehabilitation programme designed to integrate them back to society. “Nobody is born a terrorist. Therefore, nobody should die a terrorist,” he said. He said terrorism was not a viable strategy in social change. As a result, he said government was keen to putting in place measures to prevent the recruitment of young people to join terrorism. He said government was keen to adopting an anti-terrorist strategy that would facilitate the exit of older members from terrorism and proscribed organisations and activities.
On social media, ‘Cece’ has been criticising certain elements within the pro-democracy movement, mainly one of the members whom she accused of having published sensitive stories while she was in the country. After the publication of these stories, she said she felt insecure, resulting in her migration to South Africa. She said she hurriedly left Eswatini before she could apply for an international passport. She said she was disappointed because the member did not give her a meagre E400 on her low days, despite the huge role she has been playing in sharing crucial information with him. ‘Cece’ complained about the treatment she has been receiving of late. She said there were ‘comrades’ who had stopped assisting her pay rent.
On her social page, ‘Cece’ alleged yesterday that one person advocating for political reforms stopped the Swaziland International Solidarity Network from burning forests belonging to Montigny Investments in Bhunya. She alleged that she was taken aback when this democrat asked for E3 million from one of the employees of the company as a token of appreciation for saving the company’s property.
At some point, she warned her followers to run away, very fast, from a person who called himself an investigative journalist. She also complained about womanising ‘comrades’. The former police officer said these people were not concerned about the struggle for political reforms as their concentrations were on women and wine. One woman, Slindile Dlamini, challenged ‘Cece’s legitimacy in the political reforms, using words that cannot be published for ethical reasons. However, ‘Cece’ came back strong and got personal with Slindile, a noticeable character in political reform conversations. While social media clients have been following ‘Cece’s posts, Bhekani Magagula, a former warder, who escaped the country to South Africa at the height of the civil unrest, made startling allegations on Swazi Voice of the People’s News. He talked about plots to kill journalists. Magagula said these plots were orchestrated by a leader of a political party. The exiled warder alleged that the political leader received millions of Emalangeni from donors to finance the struggle for political reforms.
He said it was a pity that the money was not used for the intended purpose.
Magagula said any person who differed in opinion with this leader faced death threats. He wondered how a leader who failed to manage a team of 16 freedom fighters could run a country of 1.3 million people. He said the political leader mistreated self-styled commander of the underground forces, Thabo Kunene, who was arrested on May 31, 2023. Magagula said the senior ‘comrade’ talked to Kunene as if he was addressing a child. He said their political agenda would have long been achieved if the ‘commander’ was not arrested. He also alleged that there was an underhand in the arrest of Kunene, suspecting an inside job. He said some ‘comrades’ might have sold him out to the police. In an interview, ‘Cece’ said she had not seen the statement, but requested government to walk the talk in this matter. She said there was no crime that she ever committed. However, she said she was aware that the call was just a trap than a commitment to solve the country’s crises. If they are real, she urged government to set free the two innocent former MPs who were also jailed for speaking the truth. These are Mthandeni Dube and Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza. “May they commit that they are not going to kill us,” she said.
“You know bhuti (referring to this reporter) a lot has happened and it’s very difficult to trust government.” She said her biggest wish was to see government bringing solutions to the political chaos faced by the nation. The ex-police officer mentioned that only that fact could serve as a demonstration of a political-will backing the promise of immunity and tolerance to dissenting voices. ‘Cece’ said it was a fact that Eswatini would forever be her home. She said she would always want to go home when authorities have embraced the fact that the country “belongs to all emaSwati, regardless of their diverseness in the political space. “When this political battle comes to an end, I shall celebrate with all both in and out of the country,” she said. “For now I think I am safe and I am still not convinced that it is safe to go back home, unless government convinces me otherwise and I don’t know how it can convince me.”
One liSwati in exile said he would return home on condition that government committed itself to an inclusive political dialogue and elimination of repressive laws. Sivumelwano Nyembe, the Public Relations Officer of the Swaziland Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF) could not be reached for comment through his mobile phone. He had not responded to a questionnaire texted to her phone by 6pm yesterday. Associated Press reported in October 2023 that Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had arrived home on a chartered plane from Dubai, ending four years of self-imposed exile in London. A Pakistani federal court granted him several days of protection in graft cases, clearing the way for his return.
Alpheous discusses plot to kill Thabo
On June 9, 2023, the Government Press Secretary, Nxumalo, issued a statement that there was a plot to kill Kunene. His statement was described as sheer propaganda orchestrated to sow the seeds of discord within the pro-democracy movement. The statement issued by Nxumalo was titled ‘Threats on suspect Thabo Kunene’s life’. Kunene appeared in the High Court of Eswatini charged with contravening the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 2008. He was slapped with attempted murder and murder charges. Sibusiso Nkomonye was arrested with him.
Meanwhile, the government spokesperson said a credible intelligence report showed that there was a plan to harm Kunene.
He said the killing of the former police officer was intended to manipulate the information, which Kunene was divulging to the law enforcement agencies that were interrogating him. Nxumalo urged the public to report any suspicious persons to the nearest police station. He assured the nation that the self-styled commander would get maximum protection. “Government wishes to inform the nation that all is being done by national security services to ensure that the suspect, Thabo Kunene, is provided with maximum protection as he and his accomplice await trial,” the press release stated. Government warned that all those who were or might be involved in this ‘diabolical plan’ to harm the suspect while in the custody of government, should desist from it right away, for the law shall take its full course. Government also warned the nation and all emaSwati to be on the lookout for people whose intentions were to cause chaos and confusion in the country so that they could blame others for their respective criminal activities.