MBABANE: Suspended Swazi Observer Managing Editor Mbongeni Mbingo has been receiving alleged bribes ranging between E5000.00 and E20,000.00 from various companies and private individuals via his bank accounts in the past few months.
Evidence in our possession suggests that on or around October 2020, the editor received his gross salary of E56,830.00 from his employer Tibiyo TakaNgwane, after provident fund, car loan and tax deductions, he ended up receiving a net payment amounting to E38,000.00 that was supplemented with the alleged bribes to sustain his lavish lifestyle.
An independent investigation by this publication suggests that apart from a house loan that takes deductions amounting to E12,000.00 monthly, he is also servicing a car loan via the First National Bank(FNB) Wesbank. Analyses of the editor's financial income, subsequent to a lifestyle investigation conducted by this publication suggests that he might lose his house should his salary be stopped, he is allegedly servicing the house loan through the Swaziland Building Society(SBS).
Worth-noting is that the frequent suspicious deposits of monies from companies and individuals decreased after reports that the editor has been suspended, it could not be ascertained whether Mbingo will receive his salary for the month of November.
Sthofeni Ginindza, the Swazi Observer Board Chairman did not respond to our questions when asked about the suspension of the editor. But Sipho Mkhonta, the Managing Director of the Swazi Observer Group of Newspapers when quoted by the Times of Eswatini said matters between the employer and its employees remain confidential.
“Please note that the relationship that exists between Eswatini Observer and its employees is governed by strict confidentiality protocols. I, therefore regret to inform you that I am not in a position to comment in any way whatsoever, on the questions you have asked me” said the Managing Director.
A separate investigation uncovered that part of the monies that sustained the editor’s lavish lifestyle were allegedly defrauded from the Swazi Observer through systematic promotional articles, this means the companies and individuals were paying the editor directly instead of the newspaper to ‘manage and protect their reputation and their brands’. As a result, the revenue of the newspaper declined after the editor started exchanging investigative stories with cash.
On or around 2017, Mbongeni Mbingo, the the Chairman of the Swaziland Editors Forum when speaking to the Mail and Guardian, a South African newspaper denied any knowledge of editors who were captured through bribes, he described the Editors Forum as a professinal entity.
Now, bank transactions linked to the editor suggest that he was actually the mastermind in facilitating media capture, receiving suspicious monies from companies and individuals and subsequently frustrated the work of junior journalists by blocking their stories that resulted to them being perceived as unproductive by the employer.
“There’s is no basis in the claims that the Swaziland Editors Forum was on an individual’s payroll. This is not possible in such an organization of individuals who are very professional, have strong views on issues and also different owners” said the State editor when speaking to the Mail and Guardian.
But the editor later failed to respond to questions when asked to explain the suspicious deposits of alleged bribes in his bank accounts, the monies are alleged to have been used to sustain his lavish lifestyle.
On or around 06 September 2020, the editor who drives an Audio Q7 worth over E1million published an article blasting Siphofaneni Member of Parliament(MP) who was defending Emaswati in Parliament over the ban on import(Dubai)cars, he said MPs should always side with government not the people, saying that was where their bread was buttered.
“Politicians know where their bread is buttered of course, and MP Simelane wants us to believe they have our best interests at heart by opposing the regulations, while our hard-earned money goes down the drain” said the suspended State editor.
Suspended state editor Mbongeni Mbingo