Africa-Press – Eswatini. With only two days left ahead of the much-anticipated secondary by-elections at Siphofaneni Inkhundla, there were claims that one candidate has been told to withdraw from the race.
As such, the candidate claims to be under police protection. Sabelo Ngcamphalala, a candidate running for the position of Member of Parliament (MP) for Siphofaneni Inkhundla, alleged to have also been accused of being sponsored by Mangololo Eswatini. “I am under constant police protection due to the serious threats that I have been getting,” he said. These are the latest developments that have taken place since the nomination of the candidates to replace the erstwhile Siphofaneni MP Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane. The nominations were held last month.
‘Gawuzela’ is being replaced following that he missed 21 consecutive sittings, after he went into self-exile. Mangololo Eswatini is a pro-Monarch organisation that has made a footprint in the local political circles. On Saturday, electorates from the seven imiphakatsi under the Siphofaneni Inkhundla will cascade to their respective voting stations to vote for their chosen candidate to replace ‘Gawuzela’. Eligible voters under KaNgcamphalala Umphakatsi are 3 525, while at KaMkhweli they are 3 283, with Madlenya having 3 514 voters eligible to cast their votes on Saturday.
At Nceka, only 1 419 are registered to vote with 963 at Maphilingo and Mphumakudze’s voters roll stands at 695 and there are 335 registered under Tambuti Umphakatsi. Quizzed about the allegations during an interview, Ngcamphalala said seemingly people thought he was sponsored, yet he had not even distributed any food parcels since the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) announced the opening of campaign sessions for candidates. The aspiring MP stated that he had reported the threats at Big Bend Police Station and that he had been afforded a protection unit that constantly made patrols at his homestead to ensure his safety. He also made it clear that he had not had any telephone conversations with any government official or a member of Mangololo Eswatini.
The aspiring MP alleged that former Siphofaneni MP ‘Gawuzela’ asked him to withdraw his candidacy from the by-elections. He alleged that he succinctly told ‘Gawuzela’ that he could not betray the electorate under his umphakatsi, who entrusted him with the task to represent them in Parliament. “Most people think I am sponsored yet my bank account, as I am speaking with you now, is without cash and I am failing to refuel my car. It is unfortunate that there are people who think I am sponsored yet at first when I was nominated, our former MP told me to withdraw and give up the nomination or that I should have declined. I did not allow that to happen because I was nominated by the people,” he alleged.
Ngcamphalala further alleged that he was nominated by the people and did not represent any political formation as he had not yet joined any. “I was nominated by the people of Ngevini and I told the former MP that I would not withdraw my participation in the elections,” Ngcamphalala claimed. The KaNgcamphalala Umphakatsi candidate added that he had been nominated to represent the people and be the voice and ear on the ground on issues that affected them at their different communities, more especially because Siphofaneni Inkhundla was surrounded by sugarcane farms. He further mentioned that the elderly people under the inkhundla had been neglected since ‘Gawuzela’ went into self-exile, hence it was imperative that their plight be addressed, particularly those who were needy, inclusive of the youth and child-headed homes.
“I have vowed that I will stand and fight for the people who nominated me to stand for the elections. I might not have money but I want to ensure that I represent the people and their grievances should be addressed,” he said. When he was informed about the allegations purportedly made by Ngcamphalala, ‘Gawuzela’s response was; “I do not have time for such petty unfounded stuff. My brother is just still young but he will grow and understand these things with time. He is now speaking from frustration but it will pass and he will come to his senses again.”
Siphofaneni Indvuna Yenkhundla Mzimela Simelane said he was not aware of the threats but he only enquired about the aspiring MP’s political affiliation after he was seen wearing a T-shirt belonging to a certain political party. He stated that when he enquired about his stance on the newly-formed political movement, the aspiring MP refuted that he was a member, but only indicated that he wore it because he liked it. “He is my neighbour and I used to see him wearing a SWALIMO T-Shirt and I wasn’t aware of the threats. He told me that he wore the T-shirt because he liked it,” Mzimela said. Asked if he was indeed a SWALIMO member, Ngcamphalala did not respond to several calls made to his mobile phone and did not respond to a WhatsApp message. SWALIMO founder ‘Gawuzela’ had not responded to a WhatsApp message when he was asked if Ngcamphalala was a member after being seen wearing a SWALIMO T-shirt.
SWALIMO’s Spokesperson Thantaza Silolo’s mobile phone was constantly unavailable on the network when reached for comment. EBC Communications Officer Mbonisi Bhembe said the Commission had not received any formal complaint from the candidate. Bhembe said voters had the right to vote for their chosen candidate hence it was imperative that if there were threats under the current prevailing circumstances, the complaints should be lodged formally with the commission.
He said the commission would then forward the complaints to the institution tasked with dealing with such issues.
Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superitendent Phindile Vilakati said the police service did not discuss issues of security with the media. Vilakati, however, mentioned that there was a reported case of assault of two people who were found with fake guns two weeks ago, purported to have been assigned to beat an aspiring MP. “We only have that report of two assaulted people who were found with fake guns and were found going to (allegedly) beat an aspiring MP,” she said. Mangololo Eswatini Spokesperson Gcina Dlamini refuted allegations that they were sponsoring one of the candidates. He said he only knew of the aspiring MP through the newspapers but had never spoken to him. “Bayasicala Nkhosi, I haven’t spoken to him, I only know him through the media, Dlamini said.