ASIAN PROBE: THE SUMS DON’T ADD UP
Iam yet to go through that socalled Asian Probe Report. I have not yet found the time for it, in between my busy schedule and my being away from the office. But, I do know I am interested in having a look at it.
I am particularly interested because what I have gleamed so far from the reports seems a lot more questionable than the assembling of the very probe team. It leaves one with so many questions, but more importantly—and which is why I am interested—it seems to have gone for someone’s head—Anthony Masilela. Oh and the two other officials, the chief immigration officer and the police officer.
Nothing more. No one else. No other big fish—if at all the aforementioned government officers are indeed big fish. I got the sense, from reading the newspaper reports, that these findings by the Parliament portfolio committee does not begin to tell me what I didn’t know already; like what was not out there long before the investigation was launched.
It does nothing to give me the rationale for how only these officials are fingered; how the principal secretary in the ministry of home affairs can be the mastermind for such corruption for all these years without anyone else in top government positions getting in on the act. You know how corruption works; especially in this country; where there is a rot, there are many people, all waiting to get their hands dirty. They know each other, they work together and more importantly, they protect each other.
In the case of the illegal immigrants, especially the fact that we all know many Asian nationals are in this country illegal, there can’t only be one person. There can’t only be Masilela. No, I refuse. In fact, given the extent of the rot that is known to be prevailing with regard to how people are finding themselves to be holders of Swazi citizenship as soon as they touch down on Swazi soil, or how Asian nationals and their aunts and cousins and sometimes even their drivers het hold of same citizenship certificates within months of coming into this country.
This is so widespread I know of an entire street of people who are supposedly related and yet run some small-time business.
I know there are hundreds of Swazis out in the rural areas who are not just holders of the same citizenship, but who have gone through kukhon- ta custom, and are running businesses there. All of this within a few months of coming in. I know many others also who are yet to even lay their hands on a Swazi citizenship despite years of trying; years of frustration; years of being sent from pillar to post. I know of Jeff Ramokgadi too, who after years of good service, and being one of us, he has no such document as a Swazi citizenship, let alone a permanent residence permit. He instead has to run from office to office, beg and go through the emotional trauma of having to sit and wait. I know that he has just about given up. These things are out there.
I know of people who are being given the run around by the citizenship board; I know how these things are issued within a flicker of the eyelash. I know the people who have been sent back and have been denied, despite that they had been given the comfort that their cases were being reviewed. I know how they are frustrated and made to look for one lincusa after another.
These chronicles of how to get a Swazi citizenship are all over the place; many of them being told by our friends the same Asian nationals who have bribed to own theirs, and who have bribed to get their friends and brothers from other mothers theirs.
I know too of people who have come through our borders; with no paperwork whatsoever; I know many who have arrived here from other countries, with some dubious papers to just allow them entry into Swaziland.
I know how many of these end up disappearing into thin air, or small Swaziland.
The point is, this issue of illegal immigrants, the corruption and briber in this country for people wanting permanent residence and citizenship is so widespread all of us have a tale or two.
So the question is, is that what the parliamentary probe team has investigated? Is that what they have provided answers to? Is that what they have attempted to unpack— the extent to which this is prevailing or have they just done one piece of fine fraud and corruption and handed us a report that is meaningless and of no use to the country? Have they just wasted our taxes?
Because, you see, if this report ends up with just Anthony Masilela as the prime suspect, then I have a problem. I have a problem because from kilometres away, it looks like a big rat that is reeking of an awful smell. It looks like they have just about ruined an innocent man’s life—and thrown him into the lion’s den, to satisfy their own indiscretion. I do not want to believe for one second that the PS would be the only main person behind all this rot—and then that junior officers would be behind all of what has gone on in this country with regard to the widespread corruption in this country.
The networks in this country are massive; there is no way that all of what we know and what this report seems to suggest, would go through only these few hands.
There are people missing from it. There are some major culprits who have not been touched. And the question is how—and why?
Instead of giving us this wishywashy report, members of the portfolio committee would have done well to at least left the officers alone, because not only have they now sacrificed these people without any sort of evidence to substantiate it, they have actually made official some malicious rumour for whatever their agenda. I cannot even begin to imagine what kind of confusion they have caused at the ministry of home affairs.
How does the PS carry on with his work—and should he be allowed to, until the Parliament report exonerates him (because it will)? How does he deal with the officers and issue out instructions, continue with exercising his duty as though nothing has happened?
Given the sensitivity and seriousness of these allegations, should this not have been handled with care and tact?
So anyway; like I was saying, I am going to need to make time to go through this report, to get a sense for what the portfolio committee was trying to achieve with going for the PS and the other officials. I get the sense that there is more to this report than meets the eye.
I have not spoken to Anthony Masilela on these allegations, but I do feel for him. I do sympathise with him because I have known him and have thought of him as a good man, a decent guy. I have thought of him as the ultimate professional. I have known him as the kind of man who can be trusted—a man of God.
I do not wish for a second to think what he must be going through, to be humiliated in this fashion before he even gets the opportunity to defend himself, while some other people are left to continue enjoying the millions of Emalangeni they have amassed through this corruption.
It is tempting to think they would do anything to be left alone. It is tempting to ask what gives.
But, time will tell. As for this probe team, well, who knows—but my sense is that they have pulled the wool over our eyes.