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NKAMBENI – Outgoing Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Minister Harries ‘Madze’ Bulunga was a non-participant in yesterday’s Mbabane East, Msunduza nominations exercise.

This effectively rules him out of the 2023 General Elections, while veteran footballer Wonder ‘Samba Jive’ Nhleko and teammate striker Felix Badenhorst were nominated. “‘Madze’ didn’t even show up, he just wasn’t there at all,” said an impeccable source. There was no immediate comment from the former national team Sihlangu coach. Meanwhile, the Mbabane Swallows duo was nominated for the Member of Parliament (MP) position under Gege and Siphofaneni constituencies in Mlindazwe and Madlenya imiphakatsi (royal kraals) respectively. They headlined the sports personalities’ nomination yesterday while the process continues today and more can be expected.

The pair is also former internationals with both having played in South Africa’s elite league. Badenhorst has also played for AS Vita in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is the country’s top goalscorer for last season in the MTN Premier League with 20 goals. The nomination process will end today as it was only a two-day process. ‘Samba Jive’, the former national team Sihlangu attacking midfielder, who is currently the oldest player in Eswatini’s elite football league at 42 years, recently announced his retirement but was quick to highlight that his resignation was not yet official as he was yet to inform the Swallows Management Committee (MC) officially about his decision. This will be his second retirement as he returned in the second half of the 2021/22 season, which did not last as Swallows re-signed him during the second window, withdrawing him from his Head of Development post.

‘Samba Jive’, who has won everything on offer in the country’s premier league with Umkhonto KaShaka was part of the all-conquering team which helped the red and white capital city reach the then Orange CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup group stages between 2017 and 2018 alongside Badenhorst. “I am grateful to the Gege community for the nomination as it means they must have seen something in me,” he said after the nomination, while Badenhorst asked not to comment but confirmed his nomination as well.


They were not the only football personalities nominated as even FIFA-accredited referee Thulani ‘Goje’ Sibandze was nominated for the bucopho position under Mkhiweni Inkhundla, where Eswatini Broadcasting and Information Services (EBIS) former sports commentator Rogers ‘Liyakoba’ Mamba was also nominated for the MP candidate. Sibandze is known for handling high profile games in the kingdom. His last big assignment was the Mbabane Derby, which pitted the country’s big guns in Swallows and Mbabane Highlanders. The latter’s legend Sipho ‘City’ Sibandze, who captained Highlanders was also nominated for MP position under Manzini North at Mhobodleni umphakatsi, while Manzini Wanderers’ Peter Dube (ex-official) was among those nominated for MP in Manzini South under Ngwane Park. EBIS’s popular sports journalist Nathi ‘Mdockies’ Hlophe was also nominated for the MP position.  

Others for MP are Swallows legend Jabulani ‘Go Man Go’ Mabuza (Mbabane East, Msunduza), where Times Sunday Deputy Editor Welcome Dlamini was also nominated for the same position, Moneni Pirates and national team Sihlangu legendary goalkeeper Christopher ‘Tototo’ Khoza, Times Sunday/Eswatini reporter and Moneni Pirates Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mhlonishwa Motsa, former Eswatini Football Association (EFA) Executive Committee Member and then Nkwene MP Sikhumbuzo Dlamini (Ebuseleni Umphakatsi) as well as Mhlambanyatsi Rovers and Sihlangu legend Mfanzile ‘Fash’ Dlamini. The latter ended his career at Royal Leopard where he was also given a police job and he is also on the team’s technical bench.

In Pigg’s Peak, Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) Executive Committee member Victor Rodrigues was also nominated for MP, while former Pigg’s Peak Black Swallows Coach Mbongiseni ‘Bingo’ Dlamini was nominated for bucopho at Malindza. Outside of football, Eswatini Boxing Association (EBA) President Webster Lukhele was also nominated as a candidate vying for the MP position at Manzini North Inkhundla, while Eswatini Sport and Recreation Council (ESRC) Board Chairman Celucolo ‘Dino’ Dlamini was also successful in the MP position as he got nominated under Kukhanyeni Inkhundla.

Meanwhile, DStv Premiership side Royal AM owner Shawn ‘MaMkhize’ Mkhize’s local bodyguard Sikelela Dlamini was nominated as Pigg’s Peak bucopho. Dlamini was the coordinator for the Thwihli Thwahla as the Durban-based outfit is known in football circles, when they were in the country last year to play against Mbabane Highlanders in the 2022/2023 TotalEnergies CAF Confederation Cup.