5 April 2008
ELECTIONS DATE NEXT WEEK - EBC
Stories by Fanyana Mabuza
The Chief Gija headed Elections and Boundary Commission (EBC) yesterday announced that a tentative date signalling the beginning of this year’s elections process should be announced next week.
Speaking at a press conference held at the EBC offices at Nkhanini, Chief Gija stated that after the date has been gazetted and announced next week, every eligible Swazi should register, so as to qualify to vote, be voted for or to be appointed into Parliament, for the next five years. This year’s election will be a landmark in the country, in that it will be the first ever to be held under a new constitutional dispensation.
It also signals the end of Robert Thwala’s long-standing tenure as the Chief Electoral Officer, while ushering in the new elections body, formed under the dictates of the new Constitution. Chief Gija, who is the EBC Commissioner, was accompanied by his Deputy Mzwandile Fakudze, who is former Deputy Attorney General and commissioner Menzi Dlamini, while Ncumbi Maziya and Glory Mamba were absent.
Chief Gija reported that Mamba was held up at work preparing for exams at UNISWA where she is a lecturer, while Maziya was at the Government’s computer services centre doing other EBC related work. Maziya joined the meeting at a later stage during a workshop the EBC held with journalists at the Swaziland Water Services Corporation Headquarters just below the Gables at Ezulwini.
Also present was Sibongile Mohammed, who is from the Elections Secretariat.
The Chief noted that they did not have much time as they were appointed a bit late hence some things would have to be done while they are on the trot.
“Our situation is like a person who cannot drive a tractor and is given one just when the ploughing season is to begin. He cannot refuse the tractor saying he does not know how to furrow. He simply has to get on the tractor and learn along the ploughing process.”
Reporters then wanted to know as to when would Parliament be dissolved in order to pave way for the smooth operation of his commission, and he replied that theirs was to ensure a free and fair election, and the disbanding of Parliament was outside their ambit.
“We are only doing the elections bit and the dissolving of Parliament will be done by relevant authorities when they feel it is time or before it interferes with the electoral process.” According to the Constitution, Parliament can only be dissolved three months before the date of the elections.