Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

MBABANE – Crisis!

The soul of the Swaziland Liberation Movement (SWALIMO) is at stake as Durban-based businessman, Mbekezeli Zulu, has emerged with claims of being the original founder of the political organisation. This comes at a time when the Ngwane National Liberatoy Congress Youth League (NNLC-YL) has also come out to claim to be the rightful owners of the movement’s name. Zulu, a popular entertainment and events businessman, who is widely known as ‘Mdabula’, declared that he founded SWALIMO and not anyone else. Zulu was responding to allegations published by an online blog carrying claims that he had resigned from the organisation. He was among the leaders of the organisation’s regional structures tasked with the establishment of all branches for the movement and chaired the Shiselweni District. He refuted the allegations that he resigned and said he decided to take a backseat from the movement’s activities because his businesses had taken a knock while he was busy with SWALIMO.


He said he was never going to leave the organisation, because he founded it much against the wishes of current President, Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane. Zulu said he started following Simelane when he was an artist after he came to meet him at his home in Lavumisa to request for a business partnership in one of his events. He stated that a relationship was then formed and when Simelane eventually got elected into Parliament, he started following his submissions inside the House through social media. “We exchanged numbers back then and when he got to Parliament, I started getting interested in his political submissions. I listen to podcasts from Parliament on social media and I decided to give him a call and request to see him so we can talk politics.

"When things started heating up towards the first real political unrest in the country, I decided to take a drive and go to Siphofaneni. I want to state it on record that during the June unrest I was at Siphofaneni and later during the day when I wanted to go back I got held up in blockades. Somehow, they communicated with him and someone came and gave me a phone and it was him on the other end and he assured me that I would pass through. That was when I realised that I needed to push him into the right direction,” he said. Zulu said he met Simelane in Big Bend three days later and they spent about five minutes talking, which was when he (Zulu) introduced the issue of forming a political party.


“I started calling him ‘comrade president’ and encouraged him to start a political party. I told him that he was not going to be able to topple the government on his own. He did not say anything about it, but I con-vinced him and told him that he was not going to be allowed to discuss the future of the country on the dialogue table as an individual,” stated Zulu. He further mentioned that after their five-minute meeting, they continued to communicate on a daily basis until Simelane sent one of his sons, Victor, to hide at Zulu’s place. He said he continued to push him to start a political party until Simelane skipped the country into exile. According to Zulu, Simelane then introduced him to a South Africa-based lady known as Futhi Msibi to discuss the issue of forming the political movement. “We spoke almost every day and after a month a conference call was made between me, Futhi, Gawuzela, Victor and two other comrades. All of them rejected the idea of forming a political party or movement. “They said people were not ready to join a political party in Eswatini and I told them that I touched and felt the political tension during the unrest and the people were ready to take power.


“I then decided to call Futhi after the meeting and convince her that we should continue behind Simelane’s back and form the political party for him. I then dedicated my office to the formation of the party and even hired an intern from Eswatini to work in Durban to draft all the preliminary papers such as the Constitution and recruitment plan,” he said. Zulu said the movement was formed behind Simelane’s back with the documents later shared to him and he was surprised. He stated that after Simelane introduced him to Msibi, more members were introduced, including the current Secretary General Dr Siphetfo Dlamini and National Chairperson Busi Mayisela. “We then had a meeting in Witbank, South Africa, where we elected Simelane to be president and we voted for him on that day. We had to minute the vote and he was elected as an unopposed candidate. I want people to know how SWALIMO was formed and this is for history purposes. I have not resigned from SWALIMO because I formed the organisation. I can’t leave my baby like how the mother of Moses left him in the sea. I am not going anywhere, I will come back soon because SWALIMO has my footprint. My businesses are now back on track and I might be back sooner than they know,” he said.


Simelane was engaged to verify the claims by Zulu and he confirmed that Zulu was part of the people who were persistent in pushing him to form a political movement. He said Zulu was not the only one who was calling for the formation of the movement and he finally bowed to the pressure from the people. “The persons you mentioned were indeed among the founding members of SWALIMO, which included other leaders within the movement.  SWALIMO was eventually a result of pressure from various sectors of society who believed in my vision and, therefore, demanded the creation of structures to champion this vision,” he said. SWALIMO was formed in November 2021 and its formation caused a great stir in the pro-democracy movement, as other political movements opposed the organisation’s political ideologies, especially regarding the elections under the Tinkhundla System of Government.   


Meanwhile, Zulu alleges that as opposed to having Simelane as president, there were those who wanted jailed Hosea Member of Parliament (MP) Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza to be the movement’s leader. Zulu said in a meeting that was held in South Africa last year, Mabuza, who had already been arrested, was represented by his legal team, including SA-based lawyer Sicelimpilo Mngomezulu. He said the meeting was held at a hotel and the President of the Swaziland National Teachers Association (SNAT), Mbongwa Dlamini, was also present together with former President of Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) Quinton Dlamini and founding members of the People’s United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO) Mandla Hlatshwako and Bonginkosi ‘IB’ Dlamini.

“We met there and in that meeting there was also Siphetfo, Futhi and other comrades. After we had shared the dream of forming a political party, Mngomezulu then asked what we were going to do about the arrested MPs and I asked him what he meant, to which he said there must be positions for them and I told him that we were not forming a political party for MPs but for the people. Then there was the team of Bacede and they also asked who was going to be the president of the organisation. I told them that it would be ‘Gawuzela’ and Bacede would be his deputy and they were irritated. They said they wanted Bacede to be president and ‘Gawuzela’ to be his deputy. I told them it was not going to happen. Somehow, ‘Gawuzela’ was not happy with what I was saying and the way I responded to them because I was a bit confrontational,” said Zulu.

Zulu said everyone was against the formation of the party and they left the meeting in an unhappy mood. He further mentioned that the PUDEMO members were opposed to the formation. “When the meeting was over and they did not get what they wanted to achieve and they left us all alone, we agreed to come up with the name of the movement and SWALIMO, the name, was born on that day. I was regarded as a bad person and even called the inkabi yaseKZN (KZN hit man) with bad ideas. I was firm and strong on my submission and I refused to be pushed around. I agitated them with facts and they could not oppose me,” he added. Mngomezulu confirmed meeting Zulu, but said there was no submission made to have Bacede installed as president of SWALIMO. He refuted the allegations of any discussion around his client, Mabuza, or his co-accused Ngwempisi MP Mthandeni Dube. “I have once met a Zulu gentleman, whose name I can’t recall. On the day we met, there was no submission made by me or anyone I was with to the effect that any of my clients (the MPs) should be part of any political party, let alone take up any position(s) therein.

before formation

“Notably, on the day I saw Mr Zulu, there was no political party called SWALIMO, it was before its formation or launch. I’ve more than once stated, on record, that my clients are not members of any political party. This still is the case even now,” said Mngomezulu. He said his clients were solely focused on defending themselves at the High Court and nothing else.
Mabuza and Dube are facing charges of terrorism, incitement and murder. Mabuza has an extra charge of breaking the COVID-19 regulations. Simelane, on the other hand, confirmed that he met with MP Bacede’s lawyers while SWALIMO was at formation stage. “Indeed there were several engagements with the legal team prior to the launch of SWALIMO and due to the confidential nature of lawyer/client conversations, we cannot comment further on those discussions,” said Simelane. An attempt was made to contact the other individuals mentioned, but calls did not go through to their SA numbers.

Comments (0 posted):

Post your comment comment

Please enter the code you see in the image: