MBABANE: A team of State controlled journalists who were assigned by the regime to spy, and scandalize leaders of the progressive movement has been exposed.
Times editor Welcome Dlamini and former news editor Maqhawe Nxumalo allegedly created a “fake” Facebook Page known as “The Hidden Side -Eswatini” where they spread propaganda and or unfounded allegations about political leaders to discredit and divide the pro-democracy movement ahead of a political dialogue endorsed by the Southern African Development Community(SADC).
The names of other State controlled journalists who are involved or linked to the secret political agenda are known to this publication but cannot be revealed for now pending further investigations and gathering of more evidence.
When this investigative journalist contacted editor Welcome Dlamini as an undercover investigator, he confirmed that indeed they worked with Nxumalo and collaborated in gathering information about the political activists, he referred to him as his friend.
“He no longer works for the Times but he is a close friend of mine”, said the Times editor who allegedly works with the Intelligence Unit.
After the preliminary investigation, an official questionnaire was then sent to Dlamini where he was asked to comment, however, he then joined the fast lane after learning that this publication was investigating him.
“Good day Mr Welcome Dlamini(Times Journalist).Firstly, let me now formally introduce myself: My name is Zweli Martin Dlamini(Swaziland News editor) and I was leading an investigation into your involvement into a Facebook Fake Page-The Hidden Side - Eswatini that scandalises and seeks to divide leaders of the progressive movement. Is it ethical for you and your colleagues to create fake accounts on social media pages, scandalise people and then you later call them as Times Journalists to legitimize false and unsubstantiated allegations? You confirmed to me as an undercover investigative journalist that former Times news editor Maqhawe Nxumalo who is now linked to the “The Hidden Side\" is your friend and that you normally collaborate to do some stories. Where was the collaboration of your stories published? Was it in the said “The Hidden Side?” Can you share an official comment in this regard”, read a questionnaire sent to the Times editor.
But in a separate recorded conversation in the midst of this investigation, Dlamini said his friend Maqhawe Nxumalo was actually working for a certain Mine but also writes for an online publication, Eswatini Bulletin. It later transpired that Nxumalo was actually offered a job by the Tinkhundla system at Lufafa Gold Mine but he continued to secretly work as a ‘journalist’ spying on the progressive movement.
Before being linked to “The Hidden Side- Eswatini” that published allegations without providing evidence, Nxumalo had established two online publications, The Swazi Journal and Eswatini Bulletin, both publications that were supporting Tinkhundla failed to attract a reasonable audience after being perceived to be pro-Tinkhundla and are now defunct.
It has been disclosed that about two weeks after Nxumalo’s Eswatini Bulletin stopped publishing, The Hidden Side emerged and Nxumalo was linked to it through an online investigation.
An online investigation involves the use of technology and investigative online tools to verify identities behind websites, questionable social media pages and fake accounts.
In most instances, online investigations provide lead evidence that could then be used to intensify the investigations.
On or around 09 November 2021, Nxumalo who was communicating with this undercover investigative journalist who acted as an informer, demonstrated interest in knowing whether PUDEMO President Mlungisi Makhanya and MP Mduduzi Simelane were involved in sponsoring the ongoing violence in eSwatini.
“Do any of their discussions/plans include sponsorship of the violence. Did they discuss a programme of action moving forward?”, said Nxumalo who later failed to answer his phone when subsequent efforts were made to get hold of him for an official comment.
Even though journalist Welcome Dlamini sent questionnaires to PUDEMO President Mlungisi Makhanya and MP Mduduzi Magawugawu Simelane, the story was never published in the Times that he claimed to represent when he asked the questions.
It has been disclosed that the information about MP Magawugawu and PUDEMO President was shared with the Intelligence Unit after a previous ‘false’ article was published by the Hidden Side who’s official writers authors were, prior to the publication of this investigative article not known.
Welcome Dlamini, who plays a significant role in scandalizing the progressives was once linked to another faceless online scandalous publication, the Swazi Secrets that was targeting the Eswatini Revenue Authority Commissioner General Dumisani Masilela, businessman Sthofeni Ginindza, the late Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamni and Central Bank Governor Majozi Sithole. The Swazi Secrets was shutdown immediately after this Swaziland News exposed the identities of the people behind it.
Reached for comments earlier Dumisani Masilela, the Eswatini Revenue Authority(SRA)Commissioner General confirmed that after false information was circulated online, Times journalists later contacted them for a comment with intent to legitimize the allegations through the traditional media.
“We told them we knew nothing about the allegations and if anything was published by mainstream media, we would take legal action because we couldn’t understand why they wanted to legitimize the allegations through the mainstream media”, said the SRA Commissioner General.
But it appeared that this time, the syndicate of State controlled journalists is targeting leaders of the progressive movement through false information and the allegations are published without seeking a comment from those involved just to cloud public opinion and diffuse the ongoing calls for democratic reforms.
Reached for comments, Mlungisi Makhanya, the President of the People’s United Democratic Movement(PUDEMO) said as the progressive movement, they had always known that some journalists were working for the regime to spread misinformation.
“We are therefore urging the Nation to use their buying power to bring to an end these institutions of propaganda because whatever they feed the people comes from their imaginary sources”, said the PUDEMO President.
Eswatini is in the midst of a political crisis and the State controlled media is used to disseminate false information to cloud public opinion about issues of democracy and freedom.
Times editor Welcome Dlamini and Manqawe Nxumalo