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MBABANE - Bring it on!

SNAT President Mbongwa Dlamini has challenged government to bring the evidence it purports to have that he allegedly worked with the self-proclaimed ‘commander’ of the solidarity forces. The president of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) was reacting to a correspondence that was written by the office of the attorney general (AG) to his attorneys, wherein among other things, the latter stated that it was itching to produce evidence that the former supposedly worked with Kunene. In the letter, government did not mention the name save for the title ‘commander’. It is, however, common cause that, Thabo Kunene who claimed to be the commander of the solidarity forces, has been arrested and is facing 43 charges.

In the letter, Mbongwa was informed that the AG’s clients were desirous to present evidence that he allegedly worked with the ‘commander’ when an instruction was made to teachers not to attend school. In his response, Mbongwa wondered why was he not arrested if he was working with the ‘commander’.  He said the failure to arrest him was an indication that the allegation that he was allegedly working with the ‘commander’ was devoid of truth and an afterthought by government. “Angesabi lutfo abayiletse le evidence, ngibe ngimatelaphi mine kwayena lo commander. Umutfu losebenta na commander bebangahlala njani bangabophi,” said Mbongwa. He wondered why the police were not arresting him if the allegations that he worked with the ‘commander’ were true. Mbongwa further highlighted that the police knew where he resided and worked. He questioned why they were not apprehending him if the claim by the government was not far-fetched. He alleged that government was basing the allegation that he allegedly worked with the ‘commander’ on a statement he made in August 2022.

In August 2022, Mbongwa advised teachers to report to their respective workstations at their own peril following threats of insecurity allegedly by the ‘commander’, who instructed everyone in the country not to attend work or class. On the strength of what he termed ‘serious threats,’ Mbongwa had advised teachers to practise the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 2001 (No.9 of 2001) Section 18(2), which states that an employee reserves the right to remove himself or herself from danger, when such an employee had reasonable justification to believe there was imminent and serious risk to the safety and health of that employee.


In his response to the allegation that he was working with the self- confessed ‘commander’, Mbongwa asserted that he knew that by alleging that he worked with Kunene, government was allegedly trying to throw weight on its failure to pay him his salary, as per the court order that was issued by Industrial Court Judge Lungile Msimango.  The issue between Mbongwa and government emanates from the application that was moved by former, where he is seeking the recusal of Judge Abande Dlamini from hearing his matter. Last Wednesday, Mbongwa’s lawyer, Senior Attorney Lucky Howe, approached the judge in his chambers and asked him to recuse himself but the request was turned down. Howe allegedly told the judge that his client (Mbongwa) had told him that he was a close friend of the judge hence the request for recusal.

However, the judge reportedly turned down the request and denied that he was Mbongwa’s friend, let alone a close one, and told Howe to file a full-blown application for the recusal. That recusal application was supposed to be filed on Thursday but that has still not happened and there has been no condonation application for late filing. On Friday, Assistant Attorney General Mbuso Simelane wrote to Howe reminding the latter of on order that he should file the recusal application on last Thursday. Simelane confirmed in the letter that Howe had not complied with the said court order, thus the instructions given to the office of the AG were not to accept the recusal application without having sought and be granted a condonation order.
These are allegations whose veracity is still to be tested in court after the filing of the application for condonation.

Howe was reminded that it was his client, Mbongwa, who had sought the interim order and the lawyer was further advised that the disciplinary hearing against the SNAT president would continue if a rule nisi (interim order) had not been granted. Simelane alleged that Mbongwa was hell-bent on frustrating his very own court-instituted process. The assistant ag informed Howe that the AG’s clients were desirous of presenting evidence that the recusal application ‘is just a smear campaign meant to blackmail the honourable judge so that he may be coerced to drop this matter and any matters that come from the SNAT president when no such challenge was raised in past matters that he handled involving Mbongwa Dlamini which he dismissed’.

He said there was intelligence information to the effect that similar recusal applications awaited almost the entire bench of the Industrial Court in order to instil fear among the judges. He went on to inform Howe that the AG’s clients were also desirous to present evidence that Mbongwa allegedly worked with the ‘commander’ when an instruction was made to teachers not to attend school. He said when the National Commissioner of Police, William Dlamini, sought to get clarity from him and/or to warn him about such instructions; the SNAT president allegedly rebuffed the opportunity to assist the police. Howe responded to Simelane’s letter by writing his own on June 9, 2023 and addressed it to Attorney General Sifiso Khumalo to whom he stated that they would still proceed with the application for the judge to step down. He apologised to the AG for any inconvenience caused and said their instructions were that they would proceed with the application for the recusal of Judge Abande and that their reasons for seeking the recusal would appear in the application.