After boasting about high profits for the 2021/2022 financial year a little over two months back, Eswatini Mobile, part of Inyatsi Group of Companies, will reduce July salaries by 20 percent and retrench its staff going forward. This is according to a virtual meeting chaired by Inyatsi Group of Companies Chief Executive Officer-Investments Paul Lwiindi on Thursday afternoon.

The meeting was streamed via Zoom and attended by most employees along with Lidwala Insurance Brokers employees who are part of the parent group of companies. The same fate awaits them. Lwiindi is alleged to have told employees that the company was severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent Russia-Ukrainian war.

The Group CEO-Investment’s announcements that the company was no longer making money are contrary to former Eswatini Mobile Chief Financial Officer Enock Dube, now Inyatsi Group CFO, who spoke to employees over two months ago and praised them for bringing in higher than normal profits for the past financial year. The company was raking in over E1million a day during the 2021 financial year from the sale of airtime alone, outside of contract subscriptions and gadget sales. The company also had various competitions such as Win A Million which boosted their sales to better heights. As such, the employees are now dumbfounded by how such a conclusion could be garnered on exactly the last day of the first quarter yet books of accounts have not been used to come to such a conclusion.

The salary cuts and retrenchment threats are not new in the Inyatsi Group of companies. The group issued similar threats to their construction wing, Inyatsi Construction, employees several days ago and attributed their economic down turn to alleged terrorism related spates of arson after the company had three incidences which led to plant machinery being set alight. The company issued a press statement to the effect that 2300 employees could be affected and News 24 subsequently revealed that over 22000 people were affected. Inyatsi Construction suspended operations last week and said the financial implications of the forced cessation of operations would be borne by the employees who will not be paid for being on forced leave.

Further, their salaries for July would be 25 percent less and they were threatened with retrenchments in the event the alleged arson attacks continue unabated. They subsequently offered E500 000 as reward for information leading to an arrest and the conviction of alleged arsonists. On another note, smart people have already withdrawn their policies with Lidwala Insurance Brokers; which is a short term insurer which covers vehicle, plant machinery, home cover, and disruption of business; by abandoning their policies and opening parallel new ones. Lidwala is one of the many companies which were taken over by Inyatsi in their scramble to control every aspect within the value chain of the construction industry.

The bulk of Lidwala Insurance Brokers customers are Inyatsi subcontractors who insured against short term risk associated with the goods and services they supplied the group of companies. Most were ‘invited’ if not coerced to use the insurer as contractors working for Inyatsi. It remains to be seen if the reduction in salaries and looming retrenchments will make a difference for the group of companies which came to being in a short space of less than 5 years. In an alleged bid to control the construction industry, Inyatsi Group bought stakes in several big and small important players such as the Clinic Group (Manzini, Matsapha, Mbabane), Maloma Colliery, Infracast, Lidwala Insurance Brokers whereas Construction Associates is their long term partner.

They also have restaurants such as Ramblas, interests in residential estates such as phase 2 of Nkonyeni through and business buildings estates in their portfolio. Their collaborations include: Wayne Levendale linked Upper Interiors which is currently doing the ceilings at the Ezulwini Construction Site of the Five Star Hotel and International Convention Centre as well as Southern Star and Elcor. Interpreter Sihle Dlamini’s Scaffolding company which is being used at the Ezulwini construction site at millions of Emalangeni a month.

Employees said they wished for this to be known so that shareholders could intervene. Of note, the King owns a stake in Eswatini Mobile. His original proxy was deceased business magnate Victor Gamedze. Taking their grievances to the attention of cabinet will be useless as the Chairman of Inyatsi Group Michelo Shakantu is married to Justice Minister Pholile Dlamini-Shakantu. His businesses has partnerships with all the ministers.