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MBABANE – A huge financial mess.

A commission of inquiry report has revealed how the Alliance Church in Eswatini found itself in over E5 million financial mess after allegedly failing to remit deducted Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Graded Tax from their employees. The commission noted that the church and clinics were already incurring high interest and penalties for remittance as Eswatini National Provident Fund (ENPF) deductions were allegedly not remitted in a timely manner, which results in incurred penalties.

Further, it is observed that the audit reports accessed were without management letters, pointing out that the church’s secretary general (SG) appeared to be the sole custodian of funds for operations, which the report pointed out was an indication that there could be loose controls. It is stated that the outstanding pension fund contributions unremitted total was found to be about E1 053 996.52, while the default is alleged to have started in August 2020 to March 2023.

The commission was established by the National Church Board of the Alliance Church in Eswatini (TACE), with the mandate to investigate and make recommendations. The committee was mandated to investigate and recommend on the registration of TACE as a non-profit organisation in 2015, under the Companies Act no:8 of 2009. The commission, consisting of five members, was also to investigate the employment of the SG, probe financial records covering the church central office along with investigating projects of the church, which include clinics, tertiary institutions and the Bethlehem Estate operations.


The members were able to gather information through review of documents from the institutions that were of interest, while interviews were done with individuals who were deemed to have useful information, including carrying out site visits where necessary. Noted in the report was the alleged unavailability of the SG when asked by the commission on numerous times for interviews and the associated delays arising from the court injunction that restrained the commission at the time of investigation from continuing with the exercise. Additionally, the report is alleging that some documents could not be accessed because the official officer, the SG was allegedly not available to release those documents.

The outstanding PAYE and Graded Tax deductions but unremitted total was found to be about E3 491 187.35 from April 2013 to November 2017.
“The outstanding excluded SRA/ERS penalties, hence there was a payment of E200 000 to SRA as partial payment to cushion them from closure by ERS. This has implications that if an employee retires, may not get his or her monies due, as such they have been using the unremitted deductions to take care of those who have been retiring. They consented to having been robbing Peter to pay Paul. Nonetheless, they are working on a plan to amend the situation. It was indicated that the National Church Board was made aware of the situation,” reads the report in part.

Further, it is alleged in the report that the outstanding ENPF deductions unremitted was found to be E183 485, though it was noted that this seemed to have been corrected as of the time of the site visit. On enquiry as to why employees received bonuses, it was explained that this was meant to cushion them for not getting 25 per cent received by government employed nurses working during odd hours.

Of concern, as stated in the report, was that the SG was responsible for most of the management and communication with the government on engagements and subventions up until early 2022, even though a substantive clinics’ administrator had allegedly been engaged since April 1, 2018. The administrator allegedly only took full control of the portfolio and to communicate with the government only in 2022.

“The administrator had no signed contract (but was given a draft) as from 2018 to date. Nor was the qualification for the position clear. Eversince employed, there was no general handover by the SG, rather the SG has been actively personally involved even getting compensation for travelling expenses, lunch allowances for attending unclearly defined meetings. The administrator reported that he was never introduced to the Ministry until 2022, when there was a change of signatories.”


It is further stated in the report that no audited financial statements were received except for draft clinic records with assets worth about E5 million, that includes drugs and medical supplies. The report noted that no rentals reflected in financials, while they were supposed to be paying rent, nor is there a budget for financial controls. Also noted were high expenditures on services for maintenance amounting to E3 646, while motor vehicle reflected E76 965 and E26 737 travel. Further, administration expenses as at April 2018 was about E47 434.72, with no notes to account for some of these huge expenditures.

“The same applies with withdrawals and transfers. There exists transferred amount of E70 000, E15 900, E12 760, E62 640 (same year 2021, same month July). Internal audits and external auditor function ended up not reaching financial statements to verify that. Based on the bank statements, it appears that a substantial number of transactions are unaccounted for in the absence of financial statements, nor is there a clear line of demarcation on admin responsibilities and that of SG.”

The commission also noted capital contribution of E1 190 445 and non-distributable reserves of E501 5361, while HIV grants are also allegedly not reflected. The commission recommended that the SG be called to account as to how come he allegedly continued to do business on behalf of the institution even long after a substantive administrator had been hired without proper instrument. It is alleged that the money spent by the SG without proper authority in this respect should be quantified (around E36 712) and recovered.


The commission then recommended that there must be further investigative audit for all the accounts from the farm, clinics, tertiary institution and projects once available. Further revealed is the existence of a Projects Committee which is responsible for operations of the estate as well as the handyman/groundman who oversees the daily operations in the farm. The report reveals that the commission did not receive any AFS from the Bethlehem Estate, covering the period under review (2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 financial years). It is stated that a lease agreement existed with a certain Mr Cornel Marinus Van Niekerk from October 1, 2017 to September 31, 2020, which was then renewed for another five-year period running from October 1, 2020 until September 31, 2025.

The leased property as listed included the centre, the mobile clinic, the chicken house area with seven chicken houses, boreholes, borehole water equipment and the pigsty. “Engagement with the chairperson of the Projects Committee revealed that the amortisation of E500 164.56 spent by the lessee was completed by December 2022. However, further investigation revealed that there is a certain Mr Khaya Dlamini that took over the farm after apparently buying business from the official lease holder (Mr  Cornel Marinus Van Niekerk).


Mr Dlamini, the new lessee confirmed to have bought the business by paying Van Niekerk E240 000 and started running the farm from August 2021, under a revised lease agreement.” Further stated is that even though Marius left in 2021, he was yet to formally resign from the business as now only Dlamini was running the show and liable for rental payments of E8 500 per month. Allegedly, the lessee is currently in arrears for about E40 000, money which they had allegedly agreed with the projects committee to be amortised through yet another renovation of the other structures within the estate that needs maintenance. The reports states that the total expenses for maintenance amounted to E500 164.56+ to date hence the gains to the church from the farm remained questionable.