Who was the first to call for the election of the Prime Minister right inside the belly of the parliamentary beast ? Bacede Mabuza.Who was the first MP to openly say the king was cause of our problems? Bacede Mabuza.

Who was the leader of the "(un)official" opposition in parliament who moblised against royal candidates for Speaker position? Bacede Mabuza. Who called the largest gathering of his constituency to mobilise people to support the call for the end of Tinkhundla royal appointment of cabinet? Bacede Mabuza. Who told a royal praise singer that he will never be intimidated by empty threats? Bacede Mabuza.

That ladies and gentleman is the story of the rise of Bacede Mabuza from being a negligible backbencher in parliament to being the arch-enemy number one of the King. 

Who is Bacede Mabuza

Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza is a political novice thrust into politics by chance. Mabuza’s rise to political office as a Member of Parliament under Hosea Inkundla is itself a measure of the flaws in the Tinkundla system of government. Before becoming an MP, Mabuza had allegedly been in the cannabis business and spent most of his life in South Africa.

In fact, the first time he got to parliament he returned like a prodigal son, spent a few months campaigning (read buying) and won the votes with a landslide. For a person of his deep pockets winning the election was just a stroll in the park. His rise as a kingmaker in parliament started unnoticeably but to the powers that be, it moved from inconveniencing to annoying and later irritating. Mabuza first flexed his muscle when he led the charge that defied a royal candidate, Themba Msibi, as a Speaker of parliament.

Mabuza wanted Petros Mavimbela and rallied a majority of MP’s to support his candidate. He was quoted by the Times of Swaziland saying “it would be amiss if the elected MP’s chose someone from outside the house to represent them.” This was a political statement that did not go down well at Ludzidzini. But Mabuza had a willing ear from most MP’s partly because he had supported some of their campaigns but also because his deep pockets and lack of political ambition made him too independent. 

In the past MP’s could easily be politically castrated by promising them cabinet appointments, a campaign point Msibi dangled to MP’s while campaigning for the Speaker position. When Mabuza again threw cash to get his preferred candidate during the election of a woman to join parliament he had become a nuisance within the royal echelons of power. Some royal family members like Prince Sigombeni could no longer hide their irritation with Mabuza anymore.

During the official opening of parliament on March 2, 2020 Prince Sigombeni let out expletives against some of the MP’s while singing the king’s praise names. Prince Sigombeni accused Mabuza (and by extension Parliament) of being ‘ncancabutane’ something that Mabuza took exception to. “I cannot keep quiet about the matter just because the person who insulted me is close to the authorities,” Mabuza charged in parliament. He then called for the then Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini to reign in on the Prince. At this point, Mabuza should have known the vultures were already hovering over his head. He did not understand this was a warning shot, a bounty was on his head. 

But the antagonism in parliament was for a long time led by Mabuza who had recruited exiled Member of Parliament Mduduzi Simelane and other MP´s into his fold. Mabuza was the leader of the caucus that opposed the government on a number of things from the ban on import cars to the planned legalisation of cannabis. As far back 2018 the government had been toying with the idea of making on regulations that will legalise cannabis for medical and scientific use. This culminated in the Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Scientific Use Regulations of 2019. These regulations set conditions and requirements under which a license to deal in cannabis business will be issued, and how this kind of business will be monitored by the relevant authorities.

Meanwhile, in parliament the battle for the Cannabis license pitted two sides; one led by Mabuza, which favoured informal small scale Swazi growers and another led by Lobamba Lomdzala Member of Parliament Marwick Khumalo which favoured multinational companies with royal interests. At the time Khumalo had struck a rare partnership with the Minister of Finance, Neil Rijjkenberg, and by extension the royal family, to bulldoze the Bills and regulations through parliament.

Owing to his long held position as Chairperson of the Finance Portfolio Committee, Khumalo has allied with Rijjkenberg, on whose shoulders lies the responsibility to secure royal interest in the cannabis industry. The pro-Cannabis lobby in parliament consisted of other royal family ice boys and shoe shine girls like Lutfo Dlamini, Robert Magongo, Roy Fanourakis, Vusi Swali, Thandi Nxumalo, Nkhanyenti Ngwenya among others.

 What the royal family and their lobby in parliament did not prepare for was a push back by Mabuza. It was Mabuza who evoked standing order 58 (2) that moved a motion to halt the Opium Act Amendment Bill pending wide scale consultation. The MP’s reasoning made sense. First, the Bill was unpopular throughout the country because it aimed to wrestle small scale informal growers out of the industry. If it passed MP’s were not guaranteed of votes because a majority of their constituencies rely on the holy herb for income. Again here Mabuza 2 and royal interest 0. Mabuza had been very bold in taking on the royal lobby and ultimately put the last nail on the royal influence in parliament.

Together with MP’s like Siphofaneni Member of Parliament Mduduzi Magawugawu Simelane, Manzini North Member of Parliament Macford Sibandze, from among many others, Riijikenberg and Prime Minister were reduced into political toddlers unable to win any political battles anymore.

S’fiso Mabuza and the battle for senate

When Marwick and his caucus attempted to have former Senate Deputy President, Ngomuyayona Gamedze, a fellow traveller with Sibahle Sinje, they found Mabuza equally prepared for them, politically and financially. By nominating his brother, Sfiso, Mabuza was no longer showing his political muscle but was now poking the authorities’ nose. They had had enough.

At first, there was a belief that Gamedze would win but when the stakes were raised he threw his toys out of the coy bitching about how parliament seats were now for sale. He announced his withdrawal from the senate race crying like a spoilt brat denied candy at a shopping mall. Many saw accusations of bribery from a man whose Sibahle Sinje cabal had ran parliament like a Ponzi scheme for years very rich. For Mabuza though, he had miscalculated badly by throwing his brother’s name in the hat.

He should have known better that S’fiso rise from a mere taxi driver only a few years ago to a Millionaire business guru was always questionable and someone powerful knew this. When Ngom’yayona pulled out of the Senate race, the lobby led by Minister Neil, Prime Minister Mandvulo and their ice boys in parliament knew Mabuza had gone too far. It would no longer look good at Ludzidzini if they were seen to be defeated by a political nonentity. The next move was predictable; descend the law on Mabuza and his brother in a dramatic fashion. 

Suddenly the score moved from 3-0 to 3-3 with just one strike. After all, Mabuza’s political sins were many; he had been vocal in opposing POCA to a point of leading a motion to suspend it (a move rejected by the Prime Minister), he had led the charge against Themba Msibi, he was stonewalling the passing of the Cannabis Bill and then he had forced Ngomuyayona out of a coveted Senate seat.

The mercurial way in which the state ran to revoke his brother’s tax clearance (and vetting) plus the subsequent arrest of Mabuza on some frivolous charges only served to show that this was only the start of the worse to come for the Mabuza family. Because of his own lack of political sophistry and inability to understand how Tinkhundla as a system operates, Mabuza began fraternizing with the king’s children and making occasional donations to Prince Majaha’s foundation hoping to endear himself to the powers that be. He was wrong! 

 Mabuza thought having conquered parliament he was now going for the jocular by buying royal favours through Prince Majaha’s Foundation. In fact, when Prince Majaha openly praised the nomination of Sfiso Mabuza in the local press, Champaign bottles were popped in Mabuza’s caucus believing they had won the battle at long last. What Mabuza missed, however, was that he had long treaded on sacred grounds. Stonewalling a royal project running into Millions was never going to be forgiven.

When in 2021 University student Thabani Nkomonye was killed and Mabuza saw for the first time the brutality and heavy handed approach of the police in dealing with the mourners he went to parliament angry and determined to speak truth to power. It was Mabuza who stood in parliament for the first time and called for the election of a Prime Minister shaking the edifice of royal rule.

The rest, as they say, is history.