In a recent conversation with Ghanaian serial entrepreneur and leadership development expert Fred Swaniker, Rwandan President Paul Kagame was asked to mention one thing he cannot live without. 

His answer was, “Information.” As a politician and former military leader, President Kagame understands quite well that wars are fought and won in the information arena including through spies who must infiltrate the enemy camp to understand the operations strategy of the enemy for purposes of bettering your own strategy and tactics as you wage a war.

If the nations whose food was destroyed by Shaka’s forces during the Mfecane wars knew beforehand what Shaka was planning to do they would have strategized in a much more effective manner. As way back as the Mfecane wars, leaders had mastered the art of infiltrating the enemy and that is why some would go to the extent of giving their daughters to another leader so that they could get more information about the ruling household in case of war. That was years back.

Today the same methods are still as effective as they were back then. Wars are won and lost in what is referred to as “spy wars,” whereby people act clandestinely or on false pretences, to obtain military information in enemy-controlled territory. In military terms, such an act carries with it serious consequences and once captured by the enemy, you are treated as a prisoner of war and in some instances you lose life.

The pursuit of information about the enemy side is necessary to wage a revolutionary struggle as well. Cebile “Cece” Shongwe who was a sergenant based at Malkerns Police Station in eSwatini risked her life and surrendered her career in the police service when he infiltrated the Army Commander Jeffery Shabala after which contents on their conversations were publicized by the Swaziland News. 

The Army Commander revealed sacred state information and ‘Cece’ did well by ensuring that the former did not suspect anything. Ironically, Shabalala is a former Intelligence leader within the eSwatini Army. ‘Cece’ also exposed the operations within the police force and revealed how some people were killed during the civil unrest in June/July of this year.

Shongwe had to flee the country to face hazards of exile life – away from the comfort of her home. She had everything to lose but she chose to side with the oppressed and exploited, saying she could not be part of an inhuman and murderous regime.

Being a woman, in a patriarchal society and one that suppresses women, she defied the odds to achieve what many would have not even dreamt about—she held the state by the balls and they still shake at the mention of her name because not only was this unprecedented in the country but also demonstrated the faulty intelligence on the part of the regime.

It was the first time that an army commander got fired in the country, at least under the reign of King Mswati III. Jeffrey Shabala now lives in exile in fear of being arrested or even killed.

Until now, ‘Cece’ remains an influential figure in the politics and security of our country and therefore a trusted servant of the people’s revolution. To a moderate extent, she knows how the enemy operates and her efforts have served to sharpen the contradictions and to deepen the crisis within a collapsing police force.

She had an opportunity to rise within the ranks and to continue working with those who oppress and murder our people, but she chose a life of pain but to live with a clean conscience knowing that the people of eSwatini should come first in everything that we do.

She is a true servant of the people and she inspired all of us to put people first in everything we do because the struggle is being waged on behalf of the people – liberation can only be achieved if we get more people like ‘Cece’ who understand the sacrifices that need to be made for freedom.

Dear reader, please join us as we congratulate ‘Cece’ on being named The Bridge Person of the Year – and for winning this inaugural prize.