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MBABANE – Could the fulfilment of the Eswatini Economic Recovery Road map be a farfetched dream for the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs?

Government in its Eswatini Economic Recovery Road map cited that it wanted to have a civil service that was founded on a culture of excellence across all ministries, departments and agencies - where merit and delivery were rewarded.

This seems to be a challenge at the ministry as the management does not see eye to eye.
This is according to a letter, seen by this publication, that was sent to the Prime Minister, Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, and attached to the Secretary to Cabinet, Mbuso Dlamini, Chairman of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), Peter Mamba and the Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Harries Bulunga.

The letter detailed that some senior  officials in the ministry were aggrieved by the style of management used by the Principal Secretary, Mlayeto Dlamini.

The signatories to the letter, which was seen by this publication, are: Bheki Thwala and two senior officials.
Information gathered by this publication was that the letter was hand-delivered to the office of the premier and that of the secretary to Cabinet on Monday July 15, 2019.

On the other hand, the minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs, was served with the letter a day after as he had been out of the country on official duty.
In the letter, there are a litany of allegations made against the PS – but cannot be repeated for now as their veracity is still being investigated by the relevant structures.

However, most of them border on the PS’s management style, which certain officials within the ministry are not happy about.
According to sources within the ministry, the issues outlined in the letter have been brought to the attention of the ministry for some time. However, nothing fruitful has ever been achieved – hence the decision to engage the leader of Cabinet.

When Government Press Secretary, Percy Simelane was sought for comment, specifically to shed light on whether the PM had responded to the letter that was sent to him at or around July 15, 2019 citing serious leadership discrepancies at the aforementioned ministry, he said the letter could have been confidential.
Simelane was also requested to assist on what was the resolution, if any, that was taken by the premier and if not, what had caused the delay in responding to the challenges - more so, with government having resolved to instil a culture of excellence in all ministries and departments.

To this, the former director of the Eswatini Broadcasting and Information Services (EBIS) said: “If it was a letter to the Prime Minister and not a press release or press statement, then it was confidential. Since we were not privy to that confidential correspondence, it would not be possible to know if there are deadlines that have not been met and that there is already a delay in replying.”


He said a letter was treated differently as per Government General Orders. The press secretary said letters were confidential and different from the rest of government communication.

When pressed to give government’s position, as the senior officials did not send the letter to the PM on their personal capacities; but did so as employees of the administration, Simelane said: “We will cross that bridge when we come to it. As a government we are slowly but surely turning to ‘what we have done’ mode as opposed to ‘what we shall do’ syndrome.”

He said if faced with a challenge such as the one alleged, government needed to quietly study it and take a position that could be made public through a press statement.
On the other hand, PS Mlayeto acknowledged being aware of a letter that was sent to the office of the premier. However, he said nothing was sent to him formally.

“There is no letter that I have received but I have heard of the said letter but it would be best to contact the communications officer of the ministry,” said Dlamini.


When probed on his relations with the senior officials in the ministry. The PS  said, “They were employed by government, not me.”
He said all officers were assigned to execute certain tasks – some of them, according to the PS were able to deliver while others did not deliver.

The PS said those who had written the letter may have gone behind his back ,which made it difficult for him to respond to something that he was not aware of. Dlamini supposed that the three senior officials had also bypassed the minister as well.

He said this was so because the minister only got to know of the letter after he had been called to answer on it by the premier.
“It is untidy when you are colleagues not to be in speaking terms; if there is a grievance it should be resolved.”

Also, the Communications Officer in the ministry, Sibongiseni Zondi, said: “The ministry, through it’s clearly laid down procedures, has not received any letter detailing any staff members’ concerns. As such, the ministry cannot comment on a letter whose existence and authenticity is unknown and cannot be proven. 

In addition, the ministry has not, at any point, held any discussions or meetings on any issues that staff members have concerning the leadership. It therefore makes the motive of this letter, if there is any, highly questionable.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Portfolio Committee, Siphofaneni Constituency Member of Parliament (MP), Mduduzi Simelane, confirmed knowledge of the letter.
He said the letter was brought to the committee formally and they could not action on it due to the presentation of quarterly reports by the various ministries.
“We have the letter and we’ll handle the matter after completing the work related to the first quarter reports.”
Meanwhile, Director of Youth Affairs, Thwala said he had no comment while, the mobile numbers of the other senior officials were not available on the network since Friday afternoon.
Worth noting is that all is not well at the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs.
This is because a meeting was reported to have turned chaotic after a serious misunderstanding between two senior officials, where the intervention of the police had to be sought.
Our sister publication, the Times SUNDAY, reported that the Under Secretary Nhlanhla Motsa had to lock himself in his room at the Pigg’s Peak Hotel after the director of Youth Affairs allegedly threatened to stab him.

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