Dictator’s son in Swaziland to party

While French authorities are deciding whether to issue an international warrant for the arrest of Equatorial ­Guinea’s agriculture minister, Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue, he is visiting Swaziland, where he is said to be dating King Mswati’s daughter and was expected to attend the ­monarch’s 44th birthday party.

Mswati shifted his birthday celebrations, which were supposed to be held on Thursday April 19, to the ­following day, forcing the country into a long weekend.

Obiang is the son of Equatorial Guinea President Teodore Obiang Nguema, one of Africa’s longest-ruling dictators.

He is reportedly dating Mswati’s oldest daughter, Sikhanyiso, whom the king is allegedly using to cement relations with the Obiang dynasty.

Obiang Junior is widely perceived as being groomed to succeed his father.

Royal spokesperson Percy Simelane said the government did not “give credence and legitimacy to untruths peddled by rumour-mongers hellbent to ridicule the monarch”.

He also denied that Obiang was visiting Swaziland to be a guest at Mswati’s birthday celebrations.

Obiang was charged with corruption in France earlier this year after Transparency International and other non-governmental organisations took him to court alleging that he had spent state funds on lavish private purchases of property and vehicles in France.

His co-accused are Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou-Nguesso and Omar Bongo, the late president of Gabon.

According to Agence France-Presse, Transparency alleges that Obiang owned vehicles worth more than €4-million in France.

Together, the three leaders are alleged to have accumulated French assets worth €160-million (about $210-million).

AFP also reported that 11 of the Obiang family’s luxury cars were seized in Paris in September last year as part of the criminal investigation.

In February, the police searched an Obiang residence in an upmarket Paris district, removing vanloads of possessions.

Obiang is also deputy head of his country’s mission to the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, which gives him diplomatic immunity.

His presence in Swaziland was confirmed earlier this year by the local media, which reported that R2.9-million worth of euros and dollars had been stolen from his hotel room in the royal villa in Swaziland’s Ezulwini valley.

Police commissioner Isaac Magagula conceded that Obiang had not declared the cash on entering the country.

It is said to have been carried in a briefcase, in violation of Swazi anti-money laundering legislation.

In January, during his father’s state visit to Swaziland, it was announced that Equatorial Guinea would supply the kingdom with oil.

Details of the deal remain scanty, however. Simelane confirmed that it was being finalised, adding only that “all investments come with economic benefits. This oil deal may not be different.”

But some have challenged claims that the deal will benefit Swaziland, which has no oil refinery.

Swazi democracy activist Mandla Hlatshwayo, who lives in exile in South Africa, said: “Sources indicate that oil production in Guinea is fully committed to long-term contracts with international trading groups. It remains to be seen how the Swazi offer will be made up.”

An indication of the sensitivity around Obiang junior’s visit to Swaziland was a public apology by The Swazi Observer, which Mswati owns through Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, after it published a wire report about Obiang’s criminal charges in France.

According to Muzi Masuku, programme manager for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, Swaziland is not compelled to hand over Obiang in response to an international warrant of arrest because it has not signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Sibongile Mazibuko, an activist and president of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, said: “It is sad that the king has chosen to associate with this person. What if Obiang is found guilty of the crimes he is accused of and part of the money he allegedly squandered is traced to our country?”

The Mail & Guardian was not able to contact Obiang junior in Swaziland this week.

* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Email [email protected]

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Developing investigative journalism in the public interest. Digging dung. Fertilising democracy.

L’Oréal workers demand a shutdown of local plant, citing Covid-19...

The French cosmetics company’s Midrand plant has recorded 16 Covid-19 cases in two weeks

Protective equipment for schools in KwaZulu-Natal goes ‘missing’

Without protective equipment, schools in uMlazi, Pinetown and Zululand won’t meet the already delayed deadline for reopening

The statue of Louis XVI should remain forever handless

A statue of the French king in Louisville, Kentucky was damaged during the protests against police killings. It should not be repaired

Press Releases

Empowering his people to unleash their potential

'Being registered as an AGA(SA) means you are capable of engineering an idea and turning it into money,' says Raymond Mayekisa

What is an AGA(SA) and AT(SA) and why do they matter?

If your company has these qualified professionals it will help improve efficiencies and accelerate progress by assisting your organisation to perform better

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday