On or around 2001, over one thousand(1000)members of the Umbutfo Eswatini Defense Force(UEDF) were forced into early retirement and since then, they were sent from pillar to post in demand for their terminal benefits.
It is very unfortunate that these elderly former members of the military who dedicated their lives to protect the King and the royal family while others protected the country along the borders are now living a miserable life, some have died and their widows are struggling to put food on the table.
This matter regarding the painful situation of the elderly soldiers and the widows whose husbands died in poverty after they were kicked out from the army without benefits is not getting much attention because we are always told issues of State security are confidential.
But then, it is important to state that this issue has nothing to do with the State security but it’s an unfair labour practice where the King and his loyalists in the military with the intention of creating employment posts for their relatives in the army through corrupt recruitments forced these soldiers into poverty by kicking them out of employment without benefits.
Now, widows whose husbands worked in the army are struggling to put food on the table not to mention the over 1000 soldiers who are now part of the over 700 000 citizens living below the poverty line.
Even though this matter is not new, after having various engagements with the struggling former soldiers who asked to have their voices heard, I came to the conclusion that the problems affecting this country are more than what we can imagine.
This matter was deliberated several times by the Military Council, but what is preventing the King’s Government from paying these former soldiers and or their widows the terminal benefits?
What’s the significance of being loyal to the King if members of the security forces would then be dumped in this manner? It should be noted that for now, we are talking about the over 1000 soldiers, some members of the Umsizi who fought for this country died without receiving what was actually due to them, the money that was to benefit even their grandchildren disappeared and we know the main suspect.
Instead, these elderly members of Umsizi were told that their children would be recruited into the army but that was not enough for heroes who went to war only to be compensated with peanuts and promises of a few jobs, some that never materialised due to the corruption in the army.
It’s is very unfortunate that among the 70% of the population living below the poverty line are members of the military and their families who were neglected by the King, where is the pillar of this country if people who provide its security would be dumped in this manner?
Even junior soldiers, some who are escorting the King and members of the royal family are sinking in poverty, King Mswati through his royal linked Select Management Services among other entities, is grabbing everything from their pockets.
It’s high time the King conducts an introspection if he is doing justice to the people of this country including his own security officers. The fact that most people who once worked for the Tinkhundla system including former MPs and soldiers are struggling suggests that this is a political system that suppresses the people, we want a free and democratic country where the Government would take care of the citizens including civil servants.
What is happening to the elderly former soldiers is very unfortunate and the King’s Government must pay them their terminal benefits as a matter of urgency. The army is a very important State security institution not a personal security company for the King, its officers must be treated with human dignity during and even after reaching the retirement age.
It’s surprising that King Mswati hopes to hold on to power by using the military and other other State security agencies whose officers are depressed, if he knows that the survival of the Throne is upon them, why does he treats them in this cruel manner?