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The seemingly unhurried demeanor of the police in concluding investigations into the Swaziland Women Empowerment Trust (SWEET) that swindled women investors tens of thousands Emalangeni is feeding into the narrative of Frederic Bastiat: “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men (add women too) in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

It is mystifying that, to date, there is no headway in bringing to justice those fingered to have used SWEET as a vehicle to defraud women who had invested in the venture with the hope of becoming shareholders in and co-owners of the first women’s bank through SWEET Microfinance (Pty) Ltd. This even after much of the groundwork had been accomplished by a joint investigation initiated by the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) that determined grounds for a criminal investigation by the police. But the police have still not come to the party.

Among other indiscretions, whereas SWEET Microfinance (Pty) Ltd was a legally registered entity, its mother body, SWEET, was never registered. The ire of investors was raised in 2019 when they found its offices in Manzini closed whereupon they approached the CBE and FSRA for intervention. SWEET has since been placed under liquidation after the initial investigations by CBE and FSRA found, besides fraudulent activities, that it was insolvent, meaning its creditors were owed more than its assets value or its liabilities outstripped its assets.

As I see it, the apparently slouchy handling of the SWEET matter by the police does not augur well for the kingdom’s criminal justice system that is perennially mired in controversy. Consequently, this has created the impression, and indeed the belief, that some people are more equal than others in the eyes of the law. A snap profile of SWEET investors reveals a picture of predominantly rural women eking a hand-to-mouth existence, who, in the face of their daunting circumstances, had sacrificed their scant resources in the hope of pulling themselves out from the claws of poverty.


On the other end of the SWEET justice scale are powerful and well connected individuals who were driving the institution and are seemingly insulated from the law. These well-heeled fake messiahs not only did they steal from the poor investors, but they also literally destroyed their future because their future was encapsulated in the dream of co-owing the first women’s bank. Unless there is some intervention, specifically from government, the SWEET investors are unlikely to recoup their investments now that the organisation has been found to be also insolvent, which means it is unable to pay its creditors.

It is ironic that during last week’s International Women’s Day, which will encompass a month-long campaign to motor gender equality and empower young girls and women, none of the luminary speakers mentioned the plight of the women who are victims of the SWEET fraud. None of them called on the justice system to take the side of these silent victims. None of them, who included politicians, reminded the police to expedite the investigations in order to bring the culprits to justice. Could this be because the chief suspects are women too?
Yet for some odd reasons, the interests of various speakers was the election of women into Parliament in the forthcoming elections to the extent of issuing indirect threats should this not happen.

Given the political undercurrents it is tempting to hazard the intention of exploiting the volatile socio-political environment to forestall political reformation. Especially with Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Pholile Shakantu, then Acting Deputy Prime Minister, even invoking Their Majesties in a drive to coerce women to conform. Not that women have been found wanting in activism for political change, or anything for that matter. No! They remain the vanguard for the total emancipation of this nation. Therefore, they should refuse to be traded as commodities on the altar of political expediency – merely because it is politically correct to call for their election. If women are elected it should not be a means to a predetermined political end, but should be for substance, their valuable contributions, and moral and ethical leadership qualities other than for window dressing purposes.


As I see it, given the prevailing political climate, the call ought to be for men and women of value to come to the fore as agents of the change this kingdom needs urgently at this point and time. These are men and women who can stand for and suffer for the truth. These are sons and daughters of the soil who do not put a premium on their stomachs, but rather on creating a nation where everyone has a place in the sun. These are fathers and mothers who are ready and willing to deconstruct a society built on lies, rumours and bad-mouthing others in order to get ahead. These are compatriots who put the country and this nation ahead of themselves – a contradiction to what is obtaining where even men and women of the cloth orbiting the seat of power have lost their voices and could not even bring themselves to condemn the mass slaughter of emaSwati during and post June 2021 pro-multiparty democracy protests. Women must refuse to be forced to conform in order to find social identity and belonging and only do and act in their, and the nation’s, best interests.      

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