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Sobantu gets three more years in army

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MBABANE – Lieutenant General Sobantu Dlamini, Commander of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) has been given three more years to lead the army.


Dlamini exclusively told the Times SUNDAY that he reached the mandatory retirement age of 60 last Thursday.
He said after the King deemed it fit to extend his stay in office, all he could do was to shout, ‘Bayethe!’ 
“All I can say is ‘Bayethe wena waphakathi’. (Thank-you, Your Majesty),” he said on Friday.


“It is true that I retired last week and am now working on a three year-contract. More details can be obtained from the office of the Principal Secretary Andreas Mathabela who had been tasked with processing the necessary paperwork. I am currently at work and I am continuing with my work, grateful to be given another chance to lead His Majesty’s troops.”  

       
Mathabela, Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the army chief had been given a three-year contract after reaching the compulsory retirement age.
Mathabela said the King extended Dlamini’s office term on June 11, 2013 and his new contract would run until June 6, 2016.


According to government gazette number 81 of 2013 headlined the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force Order, 1977 order number 10 of 1977. The appointment of Army Commander of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force Notice 2013.
“I, King Mswati III, Commander-in-Chief of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force, appoint Lieutenant General Sobantu Stanley Dlamini to be army commander of the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force with effect from June 7, 2013 to June 6, 2016.


Thus done under my hand at Lozithehlezi this 11th Day of June, 2013 King Mswati 111 Commander-in-Chief Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force,” reads the legal notice in part.           
Mathabela said they had a special meeting with the army commander and had to sing him a happy birthday song.  Dlamini reached the age of 60 after working in different parts of the country where he served in different portfolios.
He left office after reaching the mandatory retirement age.


This is as per the memorandum that was issued by Chief of Personnel Vusumango Dlamini in November 2012. Dlamini’s monthly basic salary currently stands at E35 294.03 with an allowance of E1 700, which gives a total package of around E37 000.
He joined the army in 1977 and served in most parts of the country, moving up the ladder as he did so.
He was member of the Lilanga regiment of the army.


He worked under the leadership of retired Army Commander Brigadier General Fonono Dube when he (Dlamini) was commanding officer at Siteki Army Barracks.
Before this position, Dlamini was Commanding Officer at Nsingizini Army Barracks in northern Hhohho where he spent a number of years. During his leisure time he was the brains behind the formation of a soccer team that was known as Frontline X1 and when they moved to Siteki the team became Scud Missile when he was moved with his troops to Siteki. Dlamini was then elevated to the position of Army Commander and his rank moved from Major General to Lieutenant General the title he would hold until he dies. He has been at the helm of the army since June 2002 when his appointment was announced by His Majesty. Damini is known for his uncompromising attitude.


Early this year, he was quoted as having said he had not been appointed to make friends with soldiers. This was during an interview with the Swazi News on why a number of soldiers had lost their jobs during his tenure in office.
Dlamini said there were a number of ill-disciplined officers who were not needed and promised to deal with such elements in the army.  He said he was the boss and would not allow bad elements to dictate terms to him on how to run the USDF.


Other officers who are still to retire include; Colonel Shodi Mabuza who will be retiring on August 4, 2013. He will be followed by Lieutenant Colonel Moses Zwane who is expected to retire on October 22, 2013.
Two Warrant Officers in Obed Magagula and Jeremiah Mahlalela are also expected to retire on December 31, 2013     

 

… mixed feelings on his return

 

MANZINI – Musa Hlophe, Coordinator of the Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civic Organisa-tions (SCCCO) believes that extending the contracts of people who are supposed to retire goes against the constitution.


He said the Constitution stated categorically that people should retire once they reached the age of 60. 
“Most of the things we do as a country are not in the spirit of the Constitution. The fact that the country renewed the contract of an expatriate and gave him an open-ended contract shows that we do not recognise the constitution,” said Hlophe, referring to Chief Justice Michael Ramodi-bedi.
He noted that Sobantu Dlamini was lucky because he would be able to have three more years to continue drawing a salary.


Meanwhile, fired soldier Private Nkosikayikhethi Nxumalo believes that the extension of Lieutenant General Dlamini’s contract was a good thing.
Nxumalo said they were fired by the commander.


According to court papers, the three were allegedly caught stealing fuel but the High Court cleared them of theft charges and they were to return to work but senior army officials turned back their lawyer.
The lawyer was told that court orders could not bind the army. One senior army official is said to have said court martial rulings were higher than those of the High Court.


“We are happy that he will be there to assist the court until we get our money from the army. It was going to be unfair to pursue this issue with his deputy Jeffrey Tshabalala. He was going to be a sacrificial lamb because he does not know this issue. Let the person who started it see it to the end. We are happy that he is staying on and we have to conclude it with him,” said Nxumalo.


Nxumalo was fired together with two colleagues from the army, namely Vusi Hlatshwayo and Mpendulu Mngomezulu.
Their case is pending before the Industrial Court.

 

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