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SIPHOFANENI – After being forced to postpone, guests banned, others censored; Nomalungelo LaZwide Simelane’s thanksgiving event was subsequently ‘forced out’ of Siphofaneni Inkhundla Centre yesterday.

LaZwide, a Member of Parliament (MP) representing Siphofaneni constituency, had planned to host a thanksgiving celebration at the inkhundla centre, after she was elected to replace her exiled husband Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane in the House of Assembly. LaZwide was allegedly offered ‘monitored’ access to the community centre in an emotional meeting with representatives of the Lubombo Regional Administration Offices and members of the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS). It was revealed that the newly-elected MP was told that she would be held personally liable for any political statements or slogans by her guest speakers, during the event. She was further informed that the inkhundla centre was not allowed to host more than 2 000 people. Preparation had already started at the centre, pots and fencing had arrived together with other items to be used during the event. The organising team was forced to pack the items back into their vans and they eventually took the items to a church.


The incident follows an instruction to cancel the initial event which was supposed to be held September 3, 2022. LaZwide was instructed by Regional Administrator (RA) Themba Msibi to find any other date after September 11, 2022 for the thanksgiving and she subsequently chose today. It was gathered that Indvuna YeNkhundla Mzimela Simelane was summoned to the RA Offices in Siteki, where Msibi and the REPS Regional Commander (RC) demanded to see the programme of the event. She was further instructed not to allow her husband, ‘Gawuzela’, to address the audience and to also ensure that Bishop Mpendulo Nkambule did not say anything political. LaZwide, who was also supposed to be a part of the meeting with the RA and RC, was informed yesterday morning of what transpired at the RA’s Offices in Siteki, in the presence of Siphofaneni Police Station commander. It was during the meeting held at the inkhundla centre, where they resolved to move the event to LaZwide’s Church, about 7.5 kilometres from the inkhundla.This was after she was advised in the meeting that the one option she could remove liability from her person was to find an alternative venue. She confirmed that she was forced to change the venue because she had already invested a lot of money to just cancel the event.


She said the station commander mentioned that their only role as Siphofaneni police was to ensure the safety of everyone during the event, but since the liabilities were on her, it was important that she stayed within the parameters of the guidelines as presented by the indvuna yenkhundla. “I wonder why the government is doing this to me. It is clear that they have a vendetta or a score to settle with me. I am worried because I don’t think I did anything wrong. I lost a lot of money in the first postponement and now I am told to find an alternative venue because I have invited people who are not from Siphofaneni. I was supported by a lot people during my campaign and I wanted to appreciate everyone. The event will go on, by fire or by force. We have already spent money  and I cannot be told about this issue today, when I respected everyone and postponed the event to September 17 despite the fact that they allowed other events to go on. What have I done, who have I offended, is it because I am a woman and they are throwing their weight around me? I am Christian and a very respectful woman but I believe I am being harassed and abused here, and the very government I so desire to work with is turning against me now,” she said. LaZwide said she was in constant contact with  all the relevant structures while preparing for the event and they should have told her on time instead of waiting until the last day to inform her of the capacity and the strict orders.


She further mentioned that indvuna yenkhundla stated that one of the issues raised in the meeting was that some of the people who were part of the programme as per the poster, were not from the constituency. She said she had initially planned for the event to be held at Siphofaneni Bus Rank, but was convinced by the constituency council that as an MP she had to use the centre. “Today I painfully learnt that even on the first postponement, it was not about the Umhlanga, but there is something behind the decision made. I feel like the government is fighting against me and they are not willing to assist me in anything. “Even though I think I am being victimised, I want to believe that the event will be far better than the one we had planned because it all worked for the good of those that believe in the Lord. I was impressed by the station commander because he was very helpful even after it was presented to us that we should find an alternative. He even came to the church to see and inspect the venue. I want to assure everyone to attend without fail,” she said.
She invited people to attend the event and assured them that their safety would be guaranteed during the event.
Indvuna Yenkhundla, Mzimela, reiterated what LaZwide said and mentioned that the main concern was that the event was open for people coming from outside Siphofaneni. He said the office of the RA complained about the safety of the people and parking space.
“The main issue raised was that the numbers would be huge and it might cause harm to government property within the inkhundla. It was further highlighted during the meeting that even the audience was not going to be safe and there might be a stampede during the event,” he said.
Mzimela mentioned that even though the church venue was almost the same size as the inkhundla centre, they had made a provision and spoken to the neighbours to extend the yard. He said since the event was an outdoor event, it was going to be easy for them to manage the crowd and further implored the people to be in their best behaviour. KaMkhweli Umphakatsi Bucopho Thami Sibandze, questioned the methodology that the regional authorities used to ascertain the number of people to attend the event.“We are worried because we do not know the criteria used to ascertain the number of people who will attend the event. We as the council have always encouraged people to come to the centre to discuss any issues arising and we were hoping that the event would encourage people not to shy away from the structure. We are shocked and worried at the same time, but we are determined to ensure that the people are safe,” said Sibandze.


The event is expected to start at 10am and among those invited to deliver speeches is Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo, Nkilongo MP Timothy Myeni, Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) Programmes Coordinator Hlobisile Dlamini and pro democracy pastor Apostle Siboniso Makhubu. Veteran artists Shongwe and Khuphuka Saved Group, Shiba and Travellers and Immortal Seven, will be among other entertainers spicing the event on stage. Three cows were slaughtered for the people to feast and a budget estimate of over E100 000 has been used to put together the event. A large number of people are expected to come and celebrate with the Gospel star turn MP after she emerged victorious in the recent by-elections to replace her husband ‘Gawuzela’ who was fired after missing designated number of sittings in the House of Assembly last year.

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