Tuesday, June 24, 2008

PUDEMO HOLD ANTI-VOTE RALLY

Times of Swaziland

23 June 2008

PUDEMO hold rally at Maseyisini Constituency

BY SIHLE DLAMINI

NHLANGANO- While the Elections and Boundaries Commission announced the extension of the voters' registration, PUDEMO had other plans as they visited the Maseyisini Constituency to hold a political rally.

The banned political party mobilised the people to boycott the forthcoming general elections.
People's United Democratic Movement Publicity Secretary Zakhele Mabuza said they were mobilising the people to boycott the elections because they regarded it as a sick joke.

' "Elections under the Tinkhundla System of Governance have proved to be a joke because the MPs do not have the power to enact laws that will bring meaningful change in the country. So we don't want to see people rubber-stamping oppression," Mabuza briefly said before the start of the march. Asked why they decided to stage the first rally at Maseyisini, he said it was because their president hails from Makhosini, which is adjacent to Maseyisini. He also said there was a perception that was spread by authorities that if people do not register for election there would be no scholarships for their children and social grants for the elderly.

'This is the beginning of the campaign. We will use whatever means to sabotage the elections because they are not free and fair. This country signed international conventions that it will hold free and fair elections but now that's not the case," said the livid Mabuza.

ELECTIONS WITNESSES PAYOUT


Times of Swaziland, 23 June 2008
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SWAZI KING ASKS FOR VOTE PRAYERS



Times of Swaziland, 23 June 2008

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INHLAVA WANTS POLITICAL PARTIES

Times Sunday

23 June 2008

Letter to the Editor
Why Inhlava wants multi-party democracy

Sir,
I would like to extend my ap­preciation to Prince Mfanasibili for showing interest in our political beliefs as a party.

The Prince in his column (11 May, 2008) says 'it appears Inhlava wants the king to cease making political appointments'.

That is not correct Nkhosi. In promoting our beliefs , the party advocates for the amend­ment of the kingdom's consti­tution to allow for the creation of political parties so as to al­low citizens to exercise their fundamental rights to freedom of association and assembly thus ensuring citizens full and effective participation in deci­sion making processes.

In calling for the amendment of the constitution, the party be­lieves that the king shall be the Sovereign Head of State and as such shall represent the kingdom in international engagements that the government shall deem fit.

The king shall then receive am­bassadors and High commission­ers accredited to the kingdom of Swaziland.

The appointment of commis­sioners would be approved by the government. The party is of the view that the king would further appoint chiefs in accordance with Swazi Law and Custom, but gov­ernment would be responsible for their remuneration.

Furthermore, the king shall be allowed to appoint just about five (in total) chiefs and bantfwabenkhosi in Senate, with the remaining seats to various groups in Swaziland -such as CANGO, Law Society, employ­ers, workers Federations, etc.

This is quite clear mntfwanenkhosi that the party advocates for decentralization of power to the people as opposed to the centralisation of power to the king under the Tinkhundla system.
History has taught us that the centralisation of political power to the king is counter-productive in the sense that it promotes cor­ruption and nepotism.

The Tinkhundla system does not allow government to be ac­countable to the people in the sense that political appointees have no political mandate from the people.

Those appointed by the king and Emabandla have no concern for the people's expectations. They work to impress the appointing authority.

You shall recall that the former Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini once told the Swazi people that he was not the one who created the famous November 28 state­ment, but certain people in the corridors of power. These secret cabals have no respect for the wishes of the people because they are not elected by the people, but appointed by the king.

Inhlava advocates for multi-party democracy where the people elect a government of their choice which has the best policies to change their lives for the better.

If a party wins an election then the pressure is on the victori­ous party to deliver to the ex­pectations of the masses (not the members) or risk being voted out in the next election.

Furthermore, the party is un­der pressure to rid itself of un­desirable demerits in its cabi­net or national structures.

It just cannot fold its arms and watch as if all is well as it is the order of the day under Tinkhundla.

In terms of appointment of ministers, Inhlava has bye-laws that state that: All ministerial positions except that of Prime Minister and Deputy Minister shall be contested for by party members immediately after a national election so as to give equal opportunities to party members.

The contest shall be con­ducted by a subcommittee of the national executive compris­ing of the chairman, Vice chair­man, Secretary General, treas­urer and a trustee. The subcom­mittee shall set minimum quali­fication standards which would have been approved by the na­tional executive.

The NEC shall then recom­mend to the Prime Minister names of ministers for appoint­ments to the respective portfo­lios. The other responses to umntwanenkhosi will be given the following week.


Thank you, Mr editor.
Masotja Gamedze,
Inhlava Political PartySecretary General

PUDEMO ON NATIONAL FORUM


Times Sunday, 22 June 2008
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SWAZI VOTE REGISTRATION EXTENDED



Times Sunday, 22 June 2008

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VOTER REGISTRATION FAQs

Times of Swailand

20 June 2008

All you need to know about the registration process
Voter registration closes Sunday

MBABANE - It is just three days to go before the Voter Registration closes.

Many people have come up with a number of questions re­garding the voting process. We bring you some of these ques­tions and answers to help your voter registration to be easier.

1.WHAT IS VOTER REGIS­TRATION? It is a way of showing your interest in participating in the election process and choosing a government of your choice or being part of that gov­ernment.

2. WHY DO I HAVE TO REG­ISTER? To be able to participate in the elections as a voter or as a candidate you need to register. This also assists the Elections and Boundaries Commission to be able to know the size of the electorate (voter register).

3. WHO SHOULD REGIS­TER? All Swazis who have at­tained the age of 18 and perma­nent residents or temporary residents who have legally been resi­dent in Swaziland for not less than five years and have the necessary proof of documentation.

4.WHERE SHOULD I REGISTER? For the 2008 national elec­tions the Elections and Boundaries Commission in conjunction with the Regional Administrators and tradi­tional leaders have established ac­cessible registration points in all the chiefdoms and designated areas.

5. WHAT DO I CARRY TO REGISTER? Bring along your national ID card, travel document or a valid driver's licence. If you do not possess any of the above documents, register at your chiefdom where competent wit­nesses will available to identify you.

6. HOW DIFFERENT IS THE CURRENT REGISTRATION PROCESS FROM THE PREVI­OUS? The current registration system requires that your thumb print and photo be taken, unlike in the past. After registration you will receive a portable voter card with your picture which is proof that you have indeed registered.

7. CAN I REGISTER IN A DIFFERENT STATION AND VOTE IN ANOTHER? Yes, but when you register indicate where you want to cast your vote so that your name can be transferred to that Inkhundla using approved Form 6. It is however encouraged that you register at your Umphakatsi if you can.

8. IS IT POSSIBLE TO REG­ISTER IN TWO DIFFERENT CENTRES? It is not allowed to register in more than one centre but it is possible as the system is manual at the registration centres. However, when the registration forms come back to the EBC of­fice, the information will be com­puterized and any person who registered twice will be identified and handed over to the police.

9. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFI­CANCE OF HAVING MY THUMB PRINT TAKEN? It
serves to identify the registered person biometrically. The thump print is attached to your photo in the system.

10. CAN I REGISTER ON BEHALF OF ANOTHER PER­SON? A Definite NO! A person has to go in person to register. Re­member you need to have your thumb-print and photo taken when registering hence no one can register on your behalf.

11. WHAT IF I REGISTERED AND MY PHOTO OR THUMB PRINT WAS NOT TAKEN? Please get back to the station where you registered and have your photo and thumb print taken be­cause without that your registra­tion is incomplete.

12. CAN I REGISTER TO VOTE AND STAND FOR AN ELECTION IN AN AREA WHERE I RESIDE EVEN THOUGH I BELONG TO AN­OTHER CHIEFDOM? If you are a S wazi over the age of 18 who has resided in a certain area for more than three months, you have the right to register to vote and stand for an election in that area.

13. IS IT APPROPRIATE WHEN APERSON OFFERS ME A LIFT OR GIFTS TO REGISTER ON CONDI­TION THAT I VOTE FOR HIM/HER? It is unlawful to bribe or treat people at any stage of the election process with the intention to coerce them to vote for you. Report such a person to the Police or the EBC Office.

14. WHO IS DISQUALI­FIED FROM REGISTER­ING?
• A person who is certified in­sane or of unsound mind.
• For an act which is a crimi­nal offence under the law of Swaziland under sentence of death or life imprisonment im­posed on that person by a court in any country or
• Is disqualified for registration as a voter under any law for the time being in force in S Swaziland relating to offences connected with elections.

15. WHAT IF I DO NOT REGISTER? You will lose your right to participate in the election of a government of your choice. You will not be able to vote or be voted for.

16. WHEN IS THE FINAL DAY OF REGISTRATION? Registration ends on Sunday, June 22.

17. IS THERE ANY PROBABILITY THAT THE REGISTRA­TION DATES WILL BE EXTENDED? Reg­istration dates will not be extended and if you still haven't registered please make use of the few days left to exercise your right.

18. HOW DO I EN­SURE THAT I HAVE BEEN PROPERLY REGKTEREDEVEN BEFORE NOMINA­TION? Avoters register will be issued in each reg­istration centre after the regjstration process where you can inspect whether you rname appears among registered voters.

19. WHAT ABOUT SWAZIS RESIDING IN OTHER COUN­TRIES? They can en­quire at their embassies in those countries they are resident in.

20. WHERE DO I ACCESS MORE IN­FORMATION ABOUT REGISTRA­TION AND THE ELECTION PROC­ESS? You will con­tinuously get more in­formation and educa­tion about the election process through the media and can also log on to www.voteSwaziland.org.sz

STOP SWAZI RITUAL MURDERS

Swazi Observer

20 June 2008

Stop the ritual murders – Gija

By Timothy Simelane

CHIEF Gija, the Chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has warned that the increasing spate of ritual murders is evil and will instill fear on the electorate.

The Chairman says the EBC’s prayer is that the people behind the murders do not win a seat in parliament, but are arrested as a matter of urgency. At least two women have been found dead, the body of one of them mutilated and dumped in a river at Elangeni this week.

Chief Gija says if such incidents persist, they will erode the country’s peace, something contrary to the aspirations of the EBC.

“The EBC is deeply concerned and touched by the recent reports on ritual murders taking place in the country these days. We want to put it on record that we associate ourselves with His Majesty King Mswati III’s recent admonitions and condemnation of these barbaric beliefs and primitive ways of winning a seat into parliament and other public offices.

“As a Commission we hold the view that the shedding of blood especially of innocent and disadvantaged citizens (especially women and young people) will not only haunt the perpetrators but will also instill fear in the hearts of the Swazis, causing them to refrain from actively and freely participating in the electoral process, as well as in conducting their day-to-day work.”

He assured the nation that the Commission would do its best to deliver free and fair elections “that are meant to take the nation to the next level of socio-economic and political development.”

Link http://www.observer.org.sz/main.php?id=44770&section=main

RITUAL KILLING PRESS ADVERT


Press advert, 20 June 2008
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SWAZI KING ENDS PARLIAMENT

Zimbabwe Independent
19 June 2008

Swaziland King Ends Parliament Ahead Of Polls

International

Thursday, 19 June 2008 20:08

SWAZILAND’S parliament will be sent home at the end of June ahead of elections in the tiny impoverished nation, King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, said on Saturday.

"As we all know that it is now time for elections. Today I also want to let you know that the current parliament will go home at the end of the month," he told thousands of people at a meeting at the Ludzidzini Royal Residence, near the capital Mbabane.

Political parties are currently banned from participating in elections under a 1973 royal decree.

The king keeps tight control over the legislature, naming the country’s prime minister and cabinet.

But there are growing calls for the monarchy to introduce democratic reforms in the landlocked mountain kingdom, which is plagued by food shortages and one of the world’s highest HIV/Aids prevalence rates.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets last year to demand the establishment of a multi-party system. — Reuters.


Link http://www.thezimbabweindependent.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20573:swaziland-king-ends-parliament-ahead-of-polls&catid=48:international&Itemid=79

Friday, June 20, 2008

IS SWAZILAND READY FOR CHANGE?

Khulumani

Comment


Elections under a constitutional order
Is Swaziland ready for change?

By Comfort Mabuza



The Swazi nation is yet again presented with an opportunity to go to the polls before the end of this year, the first elections under the constitutional dispensation.

Whilst most vote seekers have already gone all out to campaign and position themselves for the forthcoming elections, others have indicated that there was no use to bother themselves about the whole exercise because it was a farce.

Others have even gone a step further to dismiss the constitution as one that entrenches the status quo and that the multi-party democracy ideals in Swaziland will never be realized in our time. They argue that the constitution has failed to usher a new dispensation as it falls far too short of international benchmarks on democracy.

I have stated before and will do so now that I have no political ambitions whatsoever under the present system, but somehow I stand and advocate for human rights. I am sold out to the noble idea that citizens of any given country should be availed with an opportunity to elect people of their own choice to lead them.

They should also be allowed to organize themselves and come with their own manifestos for such a programme. I am also convinced that whatever system that is in place should ensure that free political activity is guaranteed without intimidation. Is this possible in Swaziland?

The mere fact that political formations remain banned in Swaziland and that free political activity is not ensured means we are operating in the dark, and this is a mockery of the 21st century democracy ideals.

Those who have advocated for change from within the system have come out clearly to say that it is impossible to change the system from within.

Therefore, one wonders how can Swazis advocate and demand a new order in Swaziland with the status quo using every security measure to silence the voices of the masses? It goes without saying that ours is indeed the proverbial animal farm, where change is almost impossible, because some animals are better than others.

Ideally, Swazis should be embracing change without fear as it is part of the history of humankind. If truth be told you cannot suppress dissenting voices forever.

Civil society is equally guilty of not becoming more proactive and involved while there is still time. There is this tendency among civic society organizations of waiting for too long and then only to awake during the election year to try and educate the masses about meaningful change, transformation and democracy.

One is certain that the Tinkhundla system of governance as it stands needs transformation, because it tends to enshrine and enforce the status quo.

Imiphakatsi (chiefdom kraals) are the domain of the traditional leadership and there is no way free political activity will ever be guaranteed in rural communities under these chiefdoms.

An ordinary Swazi will not be free to enjoy his/her political conviction under a system that has been drugged for over 35 years into thinking that political parties are a foreign entity meant to destroy national unity and the future of the Swazis. Change cannot come easy under such a regime.

It will take a generation to uproot such an ideology that has become a core belief of the Swazi nation.

Well-targeted civic education is needed to instil new and progressive thinking among Swazis. But this cannot be done overnight and surely it cannot be done by such a fragmented civil society like ours. Our civil society needs to employ new tactics if we are to see any meaningful transformation and change in Swaziland.

Free Political Activity

If any meaningful transformation and change is to be realized in Swaziland, it is time that political parties are allowed to operate freely. Nobody benefits from the status quo where free political activity is non-existent in Swaziland.

In fact, the image of the country is continuously destroyed by the continued banning of the political formations. If constitutionalism is embraced then why is government afraid of declaring all political formations free?

I dare say that the forthcoming elections should be held under the multi-party system. The government cannot pride itself in the fact that there are no political prisoners in Swaziland when still those organized formations are finding it difficult to operate and organize themselves freely.

King and Queen Mother

It is prudent to elevate the monarchy to be above party politics. In fact, the monarchy should be seen as a unifying symbol rather than be drawn into politics. It should be freed from those who at times abuse the very institution for their own selfish gains.

The King, who is regarded as the father of the nation, should play that unifying role and political ideologies should be left in the hands of the very politicians who can then become dirty and fight it out amongst themselves.

It is unfortunate that the constitution has given all the powers to the monarchy and that alone is interpreted to mean that the King has so much power and control that he can be equated to a dictator. This is an unfortunate scenario when the King can play a much more fitting role being that of being a national unifying symbol.

The King is not a politician and, therefore, he should leave the political games to politicians.

Separation of powers

For any free political activity to thrive in any given democratic context there should be separation of powers between the three arms of government.

When speaking of separation of powers, one is actually advocating that Parliament should enact laws, which is its primary duty. There is no reason for MPs to be involved in developmental issues as is currently the issue.

The executive under the Prime Minister should be tasked with ensuring that the governance machinery of the country is operational and delivering. The third arm of government, which is the judiciary, should be free from manipulation and be totally independent to administer justice for all.

Swaziland needs to ensure that the separation of powers is guaranteed. No one person should amass supreme control over the three arms of governance because such could be concluded to mean dictatorship reigns supreme in this country. It is time for change and our people should be set free.

Freedom of the Press

The media has been referred to as the forth estate and, therefore, should be enabled to operate without interference and manipulation. It should be professionally run and avail platforms and opportunities to all citizens without fear or favour.

If for any reason the media is seen promoting only one ideology and supporting the status quo without being critical then it is not truthful to its mandate.

Professional bodies like a Media Complaints Commission [MCC] or Press Ombudsmen should be put in place to ensure media accountability and professionalism and respect for human dignity. No media should be abused for selfish ambitions. People should be given information in order to make decisions. The media should be seen contributing to good governance and accountability. This is only possible in a democratic dispensation that respects democratic ideals.

I hope civil society is ready to give guidance and direction to this anticipated new order. Are the masses ready for change? If not, then it means we as civil society are speaking in different tongues.

Unless we are availed with a grand Marshall plan meant to bring about meaningful change, we are destined for yet another hopeless five-year cycle of parliament that will continue to be a rubber stamp and a judicial system that is under the control and manipulation of a chosen few and a government that is dancing to the music of the monarchy.

How long will our Swaziland continue to be run like an animal farm where some animals are more equal than others?

Comfort Mabuza is National Director of MISA – Swaziland.

First published in Khulumani, the newsletter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Swaziland chapter, issue 11 (January – March 2008).

WHO SAYS SIBAHLE SINJE?

The Nation

September 2006

COMMENT

Who says Sibahle Sinje?

So, Sibahle Sinje is now a political movement ready to contest the 2008 elections. But, why are the other political parties being suppressed? In­deed, is it a coincidence that at this crucial time of political change, Zonke Khumalo bounces back into a very sensitive position as chairman of the Citizenship Board? It will be a very interesting election, come 2008. Editor, Bheki Makhubu


On the 5th of last month, erstwhile cultural group, Sive Siyinqaba Sibahle Sinje held a convention at the Royal Swazi Sun's Convention Centre to celebrate its 10th year of existence.

On the same day, basking in the perceived glory of the new constitutional dispensation, the organization's leaders announced that Sibahle Sinje was now being transformed into a political movement, taking advantage of the constitution's protection of freedom of asso­ciation and expression which gives everyone the right to a political party interest group.

Sibahle Sinje claimed it was positioning it self for the 2008 elections which will be the first in Swaziland under a constitutional or­der since 1972 when the cause of Swaziland's history was changed by the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress's (NNLC) victory in Mpumalanga, eastern Swaziland against the formidable Imbokodvo National Movement.

Some 20km away from the Convention Centre on that Saturday morning, in Mbabane, members of Swayoco, that politi­cal youth group infamous for its public dem­onstrations against the Tinkhundla system of government in the '90s, were taking a thor­ough beating from police officers at Msunduza.

On that day, they were staging yet another political rally in one of the capital city's most impoverished locations. Police PRO Vusi Masuku later defended the police action by claiming that political parties remain banned in the country despite the constitution asser­tion to the contrary.

Whether Masuku's statement was a reflec­tion of the bigotry of the Tikhundla system of government which he serves, or an innocent statement borne out of ignorance is a matter of debate. What is not in dispute though, is the selective manner in which our law en­forcement agencies operate.

In February this year, the NNLC tried to hold a rally at the Msunduza Inkhundla Centre, but were denied access to the place by the area's Indvuna Yenkhundla.

This, despite the constitution having come into effect at the time. Interestingly, the con stitution seeks to continue to run the country's politics through the Tinkhundla based system.
Judging from the goings on in parliament lately, it is quite apparent that there is confu­sion over where and how the constitution operates. It is damning that parliamentarians, the very people who extensively debated the constitution when it came before them while still at draft stage cannot tell whether it is superior or subordinate to Parliament's Standing Orders, among other things.

Mfomfo Nkambule. that outspoken member of parliament, still smarting from his sacking as a Cabinet Minister, has been trying to raise the flag in parliament over the operations of the constitution vis-a-vis the general laws of the land.

His utterances, unfortunately, seem to be falling on deaf ears because nobody wants to really face the realities of the changes brought about by the constitution. It is worth noting that the country's Attorney General, Majahenkhaba Dlamini, who sat as Secre­tary when the constitution was written, has never bothered to help anyone understand the workings of the document.

A constitutional expert who taught at the University of Swaziland, Majahenkhaba seems satisfied to teach only a few close associates how a constitution works and could not be bothered about parliament or the rest of society.

Therein a mess is beginning to settle.

Perhaps the answer to all this lies in the in the appointment of Zonke Khumalo as chair­man of the country's citizenship board. Khumalo was the Deputy Prime Minister of the country at independence.

It was he who almost single handedly had Bhekindlela Ngwenya deported from the country in 1972 sparking a constitutional cri­sis that led to the now infamous 1973 De­cree.

Has Khumalo been brought back as gatekeeper to play that sterling role for the leadership in case things go out of hand in this new constitutional order?

Getting out of hand, judging from the events of 1972 could mean where, say, a membe of Pudemo, Swayoco or any political part. not acceptable to the country's leaders, wo-a seat to parliament.

Who could better see to it that this Swazi could overnight turn into a foreigner than Zonke Khumalo?

Ngwenya had won his seat in parliamer on the ticket of the NNLC in Mpumalanga His victory, together with Dr Ambrose Zwane and Mageja Masilela had greatly upset the Imbokodvo National Movement. It had become imperative that the NNLC be weakened in parliament, lest they upse-the Imbokodvo's agenda in ruling the coun­try.

So determined was Khumalo to see to it the Ngwenya never saw the inside of parliamer-that on the day before King Sobhuza opened parliament on May 26 1972, he he. him deported across the border.

When Ngwenya returned to the country Khumalo had him arrested, tried and found guilty of being in the country illegally and sentenced to 12 days imprisonment.

The NNLC challenged Ngwenya's citizen­ship issue, but they were faced with a formi­dable opponent in Khumalo. When the High Court ruled in Ngwenya's favour that he take his seat in parliament because he was a true Swazi, Khumalo brought a Bill to parliament that would remove the power to determine a person's citizenship from the courts and transfer it to a Tribunal which would have the last say.

When all this failed, the authorities of the country simply removed the constitution on which everything was based and all powers were vested in the King.

Khumalo's son, Marwick by extended fam­ily, is in the leadership of Sibahle Sinje. In fact, Marwick is the face of the organization. A successful politician who has won two terms to represent his people in parliament, Marwick is seen as a moderate version of his father's politics.

Though not popular with King Mswati III who once refused to open Parliament when Marwick was Speaker, Khumalo has not been discouraged by such misfortunes in his quest to forge a strong political carrier.

Sibahle Sinje was formed in 1996 to counter a strong political force in Pudemo, Swayoco and the SFTU which had managed to dis­credit Swaziland's image internationally and proven to the world that the people of this country lived in a tin-pot dictatorship.

In reflecting on the ten years of its exist­ence, Sibahle Sinje believes it managed to stem the tide of the political onslaught that Swaziland faced from those opposed to what is seen as an archaic political system that thrives on the subservience of its people to a self-serving political hegemony.

What Sibahle Sinje has not been able to do, though, is live up to its name and slogan in selling the pride of the Swazi people in themselves.

The organization, however, has said it is now ready to contest elections and make its bid for power.

Sibahle Sinje's announcement that it was now re-launching itself as a political move­ment did not surprise many. They have al­ways been seen as a pseudo-political party hiding under the guise of promoting cultural interests.

While other political parties continue to be harassed by the state, Sibahle Sinje has been given red carpet treatment by the au­thorities over the years because they claimed to protect Swazi culture.

King's Sobhuza's Imbokodvo National Movement seems to have withered into the wilderness. Or, is Sibahle Sinje, the new face of the country's once ruling party. Afterall, they do too claim to be a movement and could argue just as strongly as King Sobhuza why they don't call themselves a political party outright.

Sibahle Sinje did, and to a large degree managed, to find its way into parliament dur­ing the last elections through the inter-par­liamentary nomination system. It was into Cabinet that they suffered their greatest set­back.

Perhaps their fortunes may yet get better in the next elections if they ever get enough votes to go to parliament. It will be interest­ing to see how the next elections will work out because the constitution has entrenched the Establishment of Parliament Order 1992, which requires candidates to stand as indi­viduals in their own Tinkhundla areas and not as party officials.

One thing, however, is not in dispute, the 2008 elections will be the most volatile since 1972 and much confusion of what the right thing to do is will characterize the whole pro­cess.
This is why the powers-that-be need a per­son like Zonke, the problem solver whose ruthless precision in dealing with opposition is well documented. He might be at his son's side yet as Sibahle Sinje seeks to find its political glory.

HUGE CAR BILL FOR ELECTION BOARD

Times of Swaziland

19 June 2008

Rented cars to cost EBC over E29 000 per day

BY INNOCENT MAPHALALA

MBABANE – The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) is using a fleet of more than 70 hired vehicles to carry out its daily duties.

The commission will be paying a minimum of E425 per car each day for as long as it uses the cars.

This means that the commission will be required to pay not less than E29 000 (more than 4,000 US Dollrs) per day to use the sedans, vans and kombis.

The EBC has a budget of more than E23 million for the current financial year.

It was appointed on Thursday, March 6, 2008 but it was not immediately clear at what point exactly they started using the hired vehicles.

It has been established that the commission, which, according to the constitution, is independent, requested the assistance of the Central Transport Administration (CTA) in making transport arrangements.

The CTA is a government garage that operates alternately as a parastatal and government department. It has a contract with Comprehensive Car Hire, a company based at the Industrial Sites in Mbabane. Comprehensive Car Hire won a tender to supply government with hired vehicles for various national activities.

The company’s vehicles are at times utilised by various government ministries.
This newspaper has proof that Comprehensive charges government at least E425.99 for each of their cheapest cars per day.

The most expensive car, a Mercedes S-Class, is charged at E1 814 per day.
These amounts exclude accident charges and insurance excess, which has to be paid for each hired vehicle.

Confirmed

Mzwandile Fakudze, EBC Deputy Chairman, confirmed that the commission was using vehicles they hire through the CTA.

"Normally, the cars would have come from the Central Pool but instead, we were given hired ones. We got them from the CTA," he said.

He referred further questions to CTA management. Polycarp Dlamini, General Transport Manager, said they had given the EBC "over 70 cars."

"We gave them rented cars because government does not have cars anymore," said Dlamini. "There are too few SG (Swaziland Government) cars now and the EBC wanted to continue with its operations, so we had no choice."

He said the elections body, led by Chief Gija Dlamini, would pay for the hired vehicles through the CTA.

Dlamini said the EBC had given them a list of vehicles they would require and the cars were allotted according to the list.

MPS PRAISE SWAZILAND KING

Swazi Observer

19 June 2008

MPs thank His Majesty for deferring parly dissolution

By Njabulo Dlamini

MEMBERS of Parliament yesterday lauded His Majesty King Mswati III for allowing them to wind up their business, noting this was an unprecedented development in Swaziland’s history.

The MPs also hailed the gesture extended by His Majesty through allowing Swazis to speak their minds and giving him guidance in leading the country at the Ludzidzini cattle byre- Sibaya.

Standing on a motion of privilege, Mahlangatsha MP Jimmy Hlophe said it was gratifying that the King handled their dissolution with dignity, against the predictions of many, including the media. He requested that a special committee be assigned to personally thank him (King) for the action.

“We should thank His Majesty as parliament unlike the scenario our Lord Jesus was subjected to in Luke 17:17 whereby one person returned to pass her appreciation compared to the 10 that had been healed.

“To crown it all, the King also passed accolades on the Eighth parliament, something he also did last year, which is appreciated indeed,” MP Hlophe said.

In his usual satiric manner, Mtfongwaneni MP Mfomfo Nkambule also thanked the King but added that times had changed.

He said it was time for those in leadership or in position of authority to make sacrifices other than enriching themselves at the expense of the populace.

“I felt bad when an elderly man attending Sibaya informed me he was having his first meal in three days.

The situation is bad out there and one would like the Attorney General Majahenkhaba Dlamini to make clarification on the dissolution of parliament and what happens thereafter,” he said, as Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Mathendele Dlamini called him to order.

Mkhiweni MP Maqhawe Mavuso said His Majesty’s act had surprised many who had thought by now they would be at home.

Also to hail His Majesty’s gesture to parliament were the likes of MPs Clement Dlamini (Kukhanyeni), Henry Dlamini (Ntfonjeni), Vusi Sithole (Shiselweni I), Mtiti Fakudze (Dvokodvweni) and Magwagwa Mdluli (Maseyisini). The Dvokodvweni legislator further said Tinkhundla system was democratic and transparent.

“The King has demonstrated that he is a good leader who does not fear consulting with the led. In this day and age, it is unusual to witness such and particularly in Africa, no such leader has done so,” the Maseyisini MP said.

The Speaker promised to update MPs on the format to be used in extending the legislature’s appreciation to the King as requested.

Link http://www.observer.org.sz/main.php?id=44738&section=main

SWAZI WOMEN URGED TO REGISTER

Swazi Observer

19 June 2008

Women urged to register for elections

By Njabulo Dlamini

WOMEN have been encouraged to take advantage of the remaining three days to register for the elections.

They have also been urged to position themselves to be nominated and thereafter elected to parliament.

The Gender Consortium, under the auspices of Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO), reiterated its unwavering support of the ‘Vote for a Woman’ campaign, encouraging the fairer species to grab the opportunity (partaking in the elections) with both hands.

Registration ends on Sunday and centres are located throughout the Kingdom; schools, town councils, chiefdoms, etc.

“We want to increase the percentage of women in decision making positions and thus call upon the citizenry to register to be in a position to vote or be voted for. Our objective is so that as a country we attain the 50 percent mark (representation of women in decision making structures) set by SADC and embraced by the Africa Region,” said Sizakele Hlatshwayo, CANGO Gender Specialist.

Hlatshwayo said since Swaziland had committed herself in meeting the SADC Region call, they were rallying women to form part of the process as well.

CANGO Information Officer Bongiwe Zwane said they had noted many assertive women out there as they hosted dialogues in the four Regions around invigorating women movement and ‘Vote for a Woman’ campaign.

The campaign was launched on May 2, 2008 with the sole aim of sensitising the public to vote for women in the elections.

“We are also calling on men in general to go and register so that they can be able to vote for the women of their choice to represent them in parliament. We particularly encourage the youth, especially young women and those living with disabilities, to take this opportunity to make their voice heard by standing up and reclaiming their place in society”.

The Consortium clarified it was a non-partisan organisation by its very mandate and open to all views ‘and remains committed to inculcating the culture of diversity’.

“The national elections present an opportunity for all Swazis to vote for people of their choice. We are of the view that the current system which allows people to be voted into office in their personal capacity presents a challenge as they are not accountable to anyone.

“We would like to see a system where someone is elected as a representative of a certain formation that will demand accountability and transparency”.

As well, the Consortium called for those appointed for affirmative action purposes to be allocated a sector they will represent e.g. disabled, elderly and children other than being there in their personal capacities.

Link http://www.observer.org.sz/main.php?id=44749&section=main

PAMPHLETS STIR IN SWAZI ELECTION


Times of Swaziland, 18 June 2008
Click on image to enlarge

PUDEMO TRACKING LOGO ABUSER


Times of Swaziland, 18 June 2008
Click on image to enlarge

Thursday, June 19, 2008

IRIN

Although the following article from IRIN concentrates on the elections in Zimbabwe, the questions it poses about Zimbabwe and the SADC electoral code could also be asked of Swaziland.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Is Zimbabwe living up to SADC's electoral code?

JOHANNESBURG, 18 June 2008 (IRIN) - The degree of freedom and fairness in Zimbabwe's presidential election on 27 June will be judged according to a 10-point guideline enshrined in the Principles forConductingDemocratic Elections of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

IRIN, using the SADC checklist of democratic principles, has asked analysts to ascertain how Zimbabwe is measuring up to its obligations as a member of the 14-member regionalorganisation.

The treaty establishing SADC, signed in 1992 in Windhoek, capital of Namibia, states: "The Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation provides that SADC shall 'Promote the development of democratic institutions and practices withinthe territoriesof State Parties and encourage the observance of universal human rights as provided for in the Charter and Conventions of the Organization of African Unity (African Union) and the United Nations.'"

According to the treaty, "SADC member states shall adhere to the following principles in the conduct of democratic elections:"

1. Full participation of the citizens in the political process

"There is no doubt that there is little, if any, participation of citizens in the election process because of the political violence in that country [Zimbabwe],"Khabele Matlosa,research director of the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa,a non-governmental organisation (NGO) promoting credible elections and democratic practices in Africa,told IRIN."We know for a fact that most of the violence unleashed is by government militias and thousands of people have been displaced, and plus or minus 60 people killed. There is a climate of fear and people are afraid of any type of participation because of the violence.

Citizens' participation is at its lowest ebb ever."Joseph Kurebwa, head of the University of Zimbabwe's politics and administrationdepartment,told IRIN: "The nature of politics in Zimbabwe is that anyone is freeto be a memberof any political party of their choice, and also to not participatein politics ifthey so wish."The 'political violence' since 29 March is a result of differences between people, and these people are using the opportunity to settle old scores.

There are very few incidents which would pass as political violence," he maintained.Kurebwa offered to stand as a candidate for ZANU-PF in the recent parliamentary elections, but was not selected by the party at its primaries.


2. Freedom of association

"Freedom of association is allowed by the constitution, and political parties are formed and allowed to contest elections," said Matlosa, who observed the 29 Marchelection."In practice they [opposition parties and civil society organisations] are restrictedheavilyby state actions; the government gives with one hand and takes away withthe other.It is not just political parties, but also NGOs. The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Networkand the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights play a very importantrole, but are not allowed political space," he commented.Kurebwa said, "There is freedom of association; people of different political affiliations have been acting together with each other at various levels."

3. Political tolerance

"There is no political tolerance; the society is so polarised. The ruling party [ZANU-PF] does not tolerate political opposition; they [the government] see the opposition as part of a conspiracy unleashed by the West," Matlosa said."The level of political tolerance is very low ... [Zimbabwe's] security chiefs made it very clear publicly [before the 29 March election] that they would not accept any result that did not favour the incumbent [President Robert Mugabe]. This is the highest level of political intolerance," Matlosa commented.In contrast Kurebwa maintained that "The ruling party accepts that people should have as many different viewpoints as possible. The government has not restricted this in any way."

4. Regular intervals for elections as provided for by the respective National Constitutions

"Elections are held regularly, although in a sense the 29 March election was a snapelection.The ruling party called elections without consulting the opposition partiesor President Thabo Mbeki [appointed by SADC to mediate between the main opposition Movement forDemocratic Change party and ZANU-PF]", Matlosa said."We excel on that score," Kurebwa noted.

5. Equal opportunity for all political parties to access state media

"No, there is no equal opportunity for all political parties to access the statemedia," Matlosa said. "The state media are monopolised by ZANU-PF and oppositionpartieshave to rely on private media. In the 29 March elections, once SADC deployed observers in Zimbabwe, it was only then that the opposition was given opportunitieson statemedia's radio and television services."

Kurebwa said, "The Broadcast Services Act and other pieces of legislation have given the opposition parties ample opportunity to air their views through media owned by the state."

6. Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for

"Zimbabwe's election laws provide for that, but in practice it is a different story.The present environment is so poisoned in the country that even for the leader of the opposition [Morgan Tsvangirai] - who has been arrested four or five times -it is extremely difficult for him to even campaign," Matlosa pointed out."Legally, the voting age is 18 years old and people over 18 can also stand for parliament," Kurebwasaid.

"When people commit offences, or the police believe there are grounds to suspect that someone is about to commit an offence, they can be arrested. This does not interfere with the voter or someone standing as a candidate," Kurebwa responded.

7. Independence of judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions

"Not at all. The judiciary is hugely politicised and is under the constant influence of ZANU-PF, and the same applies to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission," Matlosasaid."The final appointment of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officers is by the president,and it is not independent or autonomous.

Other government departments are running aspects of the elections and registration of voters - the accreditation of observersis done by the Ministry of Justice for example," he noted.Kurebwa told IRIN: "In the recent history of the country, treason charges have been levelled against Tsvangirai for a plot to assassinate Mugabe. The judiciary exoneratedhim[Tsvangirai]."By and large the judiciary is independent, as is ZEC. The ZEC has remained stead fast in executing its duties according to the law. It has not subjected itself to the will of political parties," Kurebwa said.

8. Voter education

"Voters are supposed to be informed and normally this is carried out by political parties and civil society, but in Zimbabwe this is the reserve of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.Other organisations are barred from doing it, because government accuses them of being opposition supporters," Matlosa told IRIN.

"Voter education is the responsibility of ZEC by law," Kurebwa said. "I can categorically say that the commission has excelled in informing people of political rights and the candidates participating in the elections."

9. Acceptance and respect of election results by political parties proclaimed to have been free and fair by the competent National Electoral Authorities in accordance with the law of the land

"Problems with election processes [such as complaints made by the opposition afterthe2002 elections] are not resolved, and these problems are being compounded -and the run-off elections will see more complaints that are not resolved," Matlosa said.Kurebwa noted that "In 2000 and 2002 the opposition MDC went to the courts, butbyand large various political parties have been happy with the outcome of the elections."


10. Challenge of the election results as provided for by the law of the land

This also relates to the previous provision," Matlosa said. "The electoral law provides for a timeframe [for complaints to be resolved], which is hardly ever observed.""If one looks at the harmonised elections," Kurebwa commented, "the results of each polling station were posted outside of the polling station, and that gave everyone an opportunityto look at the results. The results were above board and in compliance with the law."

Link http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=78790

DECISION TIME: ARE WE READY?

The Nation

Comment

Decision time: are we ready?


As we draw nearer to the elections, let's take stock of what we really want for our parliament? There is no doubt that the qual­ity of MPs we have had in the last five years has been a terrible embarrassment. But, whose fault is it? We now have a Consti­tution. Do those who will vote and those who will be voted for clearly understand this document? Where are the lawyers and other intellectuals to help unpack this most important docu­ment for the rest of us? Where is the media in all this? SIPHO NKOSI-DLAMINI reports.


The time has come for the elec­torate to make de­cisions on their repre­sentations in Parlia­ment. In addition, it is that time of the year when some unfortunate humans disappear; and if found, they are without their limbs. That is why, in devel­opmental terms, we have stagnated as a nation.

The people have been starved of infor­mation to make informed decisions on their representation. Yesterday is history; it helps us not to make the same mistakes. Tomorrow is a mystery whose solutions we must plan for today. Today is a gift; that is why we call it a present of oppor­tunity to act.

The enlightened have the responsibil­ity of leading those who need the light to make informed decisions and not to de­cide on the basis of who provided a meal one day. The individual standing for elec­tions must have the capacity to compre­hend the intricacies of governance and the priorities of the electorate. Providing one with a plate offish without the ability to use a rod, line and hook is a strategy to keep one a dependent forever (sihhanya).

Policies are good but only made useless by those who should implement them. A launching fanfare that culminates into a feeding session for the haves, projects a wrong impression when, on the very day, some people went to bed hungry. If only that money was used to buy some maize for the people of Lavumisa and Nkalashane, the meaning of commitment to poverty reduction would start to sink in. All those at the launch went home to a plate of food!

However, HMK Sobhuza II admon­ished us against dependency when he said, "ungabophila ngekudla kwemuntfu, utawugcina sewusihhanya sakhe" (i.e. do not depend on someone's food to feed your family; you end up his zombie). The people only need expert advice on when and what to sow; they know that the taste of the produce of own labour is always sweetest! Our MPs have had different tastes from the electorates'. Know what for to send an MP to Parlia­ment. This is not possible if one does not know what the system of governance pre­vailing is. It is important that we articu­late the methodologies of service delivery to the populace.

One would like to respect MPs and never to fear them. Never again should anybody, including the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, be ashamed of us for choosing people who cannot recognise their own products of Parlia­mentary deliberations. Does the system enable this state of affairs? All those who have an interest and basic under­standing of specific ele­ments of the Constitution should use the available means to educate all of us. We keep hear­ing of tinkhundla system. Could someone please give us a document that describes the system, if only for comparative as­sessment?

What HMK Sobhuza II called an experi­ment did not have a document and never became public, like many commissions. Thus, the populace has always voted based on perceived instructions and non-issues, opening them to manipulations.

For example, a prospective MP or in­cumbent, at election time, suddenly re­members that the people do starve, need a market shelter, piped water, etc.

For 5 years, the MP was looking after his/her stomach. Why should people vote if they have no say on how they are to be governed? Are we going to elect the Gov­ernment of Swaziland or merely "horri­ble" Members of Parliament? Are these MPs answerable to the electorate or to themselves?

Remember, a few years ago HMK Mswati III called them to Lozitha for his briefing as to what they had done for their constituencies ever since they were elected. A majority of the answers were an affront to the electorate. Prince David will always be correct and has my support for the naked truth. Let us not allow this to happen again!

Democracy

Many academics and politicians have written on democracy to project support­ive views on the system. Others have dis­torted the Plutonic philosophy to project personal or group preferences. The the­saurus version merely means power to the people (demos = people and kratos = power). It developed from the desire to move away from dictatorship, totali­tarianism, or any form of entrenched fa­vouritism by whatever method. Since the proletariat were providing the taxes, they were entitled to benefit from the use of the acquired resources to be used for the col­lective good.

Parliamentary democracy evolved seri­ously after the industrial revolution in Britain where the rich regarded them­selves as having a divine right to rule the poor. First, there were the Conservatives (Tories), who wanted to maintain the status quo, then came the Labour party (Whigs), an outgrowth of the labour un­ion movement. The Liberal Democrats took the centre stage trying to accommo­date those who had no extreme views on the social evolution. This was the formal structuring of multi-party democracy.
No country today would say they have achieved democratic dispensation. The haves have become have-mores and the have-nots lose the little they may have accumulated. Hobos are a common sight even in the most developed 'democratic' countries. The difference in developing countries is the available levels of opportunities to reach the stars! The opportunity to express one's personality with one's God-given capacity/talent is the inherent spirit of el­ementary democratic principles. Choice, by technical know-who and not techni­cal expertise, is anathema to democratic practice.

Thus, true democracy is the ideal system we all aim at. Communalism, as practised by nuns, aimed at elimination, not reduc­tion, of have-nots. The latter is the Godly perfect system. How does multi-party democracy or tinkhundla systems fair in the human attempt of bringing God's kingdom closer so that His will can also be done on earth without being battered by any state security personnel? In a de­mocracy, the theory is that the people own the governors; the government exists at the behest of the governed: the will of the people is pre-eminent.

Tinkhundla System

Is what we are practising in SD today at the same wavelength as that HMK Sobhuza II had in mind? My recollection from his speech on the experiment is that the people in each sub-constituency would decide who was to stand at pri­mary level of the process of election to Parliament.

The basis would be the contributions the individual had made in one’s community to the general and any specific sector of socio-economic development. The communities must be involved in formulating the methodology.

External coer­cions, be they from the chief, govern­ment officials, po­litical parties or family members would not play a role in decision-making on one's preference if the people were well informed about the real issues. Dur­ing the secondary election at the Inkhundla, the candidates would then compete for election to Parliament. It is not clear who is to educate the populace on the real issues!

Has the practice lived up to this idea, es­pecially with respect to external influence? Has the system practice metamorphosed through manipulation by interested 'par­ties'? What influence do tindvuna, hunger, positions, etc, have on vote decision-mak­ing? Does the system truly allow freedom of expression (neluhlanya luviwe), so that even a mad man can be heard?

For the purpose of the coming election, what measurable responsibilities do all the governance divisions have? What pa­rameters are used to assess their delivery capacities? Simply, how can the electorate ascertain the kind of performance results and the capacity of an individual prospec­tive MP?

Are there any measurable parameters for eligibility for election? This will help the system to stem the scourge of gross failure through lack of analytical agility and the consequent corrupt relations that ensue. How much transparency is entrenched in the system to enable any re­searcher to interrogate its efficiency or efficacy? Essentially, what defence argu­ment can one advance against those who view it as undemocratic?

Ignore the waf­fling arguments to protect one's plate of fish.

Multi-party Democracy

The basis for multi-party democracy is that it expresses both the will of the people irrespective of their differences and the majority view wins the day. The candidature of each potential MP is scru­tinised at grass roots level based on their assimilation, comprehension and people-based national policies and their imple­mentation strategies.

For example, health, food security, edu­cation, international relations, national se­curity and socio-economic development are national prerogatives. The appre­ciation of party policies by the populace should qualify one to be an MP and not providing a plate of food for one day.
The acceptance and appreciation of dif­fering views is viewed as honourable and intellectually stimulating. No one person possesses monopoly of knowledge and thinking. Only God does!

However, experience in some countries has been the suppression of the minority view, which could contribute superiorly to the development of the country. Some politicians have resorted to military force to remain in power. In Swaziland, we do not need that because we are one "family", being blood relations. We will always be together at the funerals.

Overall, the responsibility lies with the electorate to choose the people who can articulate their aspirations. This is as­sumed to form the foundation stone of the system. The system also prescribes that an eligible candidate must possess basic education (not learning) standards to con­tribute substantially to a stimulating de­bate on people's issues.
Without the basic tools of natural mental agility and basic, not elementary, ability to read, one's qualification becomes sus­pect. One just needs to have the mental dexterity to compare and contrast using many sources of information.

Election

That the Constitution does not ban politi­cal parties may be incomplete truth; it is indisputable nonetheless that the Consti­tution does not specifically reinstate them into the political dispensation. The 1973 Proclamation specifically banned multi-party politics and introduced one party or non-party system. That was a constitu­tional change and was not open to multi­ple interpretations.

Without these specifics in the new Con­stitution, political parties are essentially banned. This view is further supported by the breach of the very Constitution in the composition of the EBC by including a practising "judge" of qualification of eli­gible candidates at the primaries. One is open to correction. But that is what many understand is prevailing.

The 2008 election may indeed be a farce. However, there is need to educate the pop­ulace why it is a farce so that they make the necessary informed decision to regis­ter and vote or not. Over-generalization cannot be enough to make a responsible decision. Let them know the prevailing circumstances that militate against free and fair elections.

True democratic principles do not allow one group to be a criminal, police officer, prosecutor, judge and executioner at the same time. With the means available, let the populace have the civic education they need to make intelligent decisions. No one will do it for them save those who are sufficiently enlightened to realise the wool over their eyes.

Some think the more of the same mind entering the system, the greater the im­pact of influencing changes from within. What are the strengths and weaknesses of such an argument? Even boycotts need to be substantiated. Hitherto, the vociferous anti-boycotts have been those who derive benefits from the status quo. That is ex­pected. The populace are still unable to make informed decisions.

Forward

The views herein are an attempt to lead us away from the prevailing disinforma­tion climate in order for us to make in­formed decisions on our representatives in Parliament. Never again should we hear anybody calling our MPs stupid be­cause they 'approve' key legislation they do not understand, later doubt its efficacy, and question their own decisions when the law is applied.
Secondly, the majority has not read and understood the Constitution under which we shall be choosing our MPs. Accepting that it is their fault and no one else's, I implore our legal boffins to help surgical­ly dissect the Constitution, elucidate the tricky areas and intellectually lift us to the level where we can elect quality MPs.

Is the Constitution people-based enough to facilitate free and fair elections? Do the people own it sufficiently to accept responsibility for its failures? Does it fa­cilitate choice of quality MPs? No one in the country can stand boldly proud of the quality of MPs we have had in the last Parliament. Many of us have been around since independence!

In the last election, reports were that less than 25% of the electorate registered and voted. Did we then have a legitimate Par­liament? Democracy demands that more than 50% of eligible voters should reg­ister and vote. Who is to blame for that other than those who must vote? Does the Constitution stipulate the size of register and qualification of eligible participants before we can say, "the people have in­deed spoken"?

To boycott or not is a choice that needs to be based on knowledge not ignorance or mob psychology. The press must play its role as a medium of healthy intellec­tual exchange with only the future of the country in mind. Editorials should only crystallize (that is compare and contrast) issues and avoid promoting sides!

Is it true that chequebook journalism prevents open, free and fair intellectual intercourse? Governments have no mo­nopoly on censorship. By commission or omission, the media houses are in many instances guilty, especially in Swaziland, through editorial power to exclude the un­palatable.

I sincerely invite you to raise your views and exercise your constitutional freedom of expression; one is expecting opposite views too. Silence is never golden in Africa; it depicts taciturn disagreement. Bunhhinhhinhhi ("cooing" like a bilious pigeon) is no longer justified!

Opposite debating views are healthy; that is how one can surpass one's horizons of knowledge. Only deafening silence keeps people mentally stunted and promotes the choice of "stupid" candidates.

Please wake up from your intellectual slumber! From Cape to Cairo, Morocco to Mozambique, there are many of our politi­cians, not all, who thrive on the ignorance of the people. Do not be one of those who provide the platform for stomach politics.
You were born free!

RITUAL MURDERS BEFORE ELECTION

Times of Swaziland

18 June 2008

What follows is an editorial comment after the killing and mutilation of two woman that were suspected to have been ritual killings connected to the national elections.

Killing the way to parliament

In football they skin chickens alive to win games; in politics it seems they chop humans alive to win seats in parliament.

It’s shocking to imagine that while some people are looking at others as possible candidates for election, some are looking at people as ideal candidates for the best human body parts. Anybody staring at you is a likely suspect.

That is the level to which this country will degenerate if recent events are anything to go by.
Call it sheer coincidence, but the number of dead bodies emerging just about everywhere in the past few months is just too high to ignore, especially during election time for a people that has demonstrated a strong belief in muti in order to win.

This satanic ancient belief is so strong it has invited calls from His Majesty the King who has issued repeated warnings against ritual murder which is commonly associated with elections.

Warning

If anything, such warning seems to have spurred them on. We must therefore take note that it takes more than just talk to deter people.

It takes properly grinding wheels of justice that do not take five years to solve a murder case.

That our judiciary is failing to conclude a case where over 40 women and children were murdered makes it opportune and lucrative to kill in Swaziland given the price wanna-be Members of Parliament(MPs) are said to be willing to pay for human body parts.

It is in times like these that the death penalty becomes most appropriate, but because of world politics we have to settle for life sentences that only help drain our resources in feeding murderers while families who lose their breadwinners starve to death.

Two mutilated bodies have been found at Sandleni since April, two more at Elangeni in a space of two weeks, not to mention individual cases elsewhere.

We could be forgiven for thinking another serial killer was on the prowl who is out to perfect what others started and got away with (for now).

poverty

But then again it could be a community member of each area who is well known to those conspiring with the murderer(s) and harboured in return for food in this poverty stricken country.

People are selling their votes for food, others are obviously selling their souls and, unfortunately, those of innocent people too.

We cannot sit silently while our relatives are being slaughtered right before our eyes.

Let us make every effort keep our families, relatives and friends alive through this election because if we don’t, these killings could be the reason we may end up with the wrong candidates in parliament. Then we’ll all be dead politically, economically, socially or otherwise.

In the meantime, we demand that the police and the army carry out a joint raid on all traditional healers’ homes in search for illegal ‘herbs and body parts’ in the interest of public safety. We also demand that the traditional healers association come out to denounce the involvement of its members in this barbaric act.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE LOOMS

Swazi Observer

18 June 2008

Mahlabane residents battle to beat registration deadline

By Faith Vilakati

MAHLABANE Chief Mbhungu pleads with Manzini Regional Administrator (RA) Prince Masitsela to open an election registration centre before the registration closes on Sunday.

He said his subjects were desperately preparing to register in order to vote in this year's national election.

The chief maintains that his subjects will not register under the Mafutseni umphakatsi because they have their own umphakatsi.

The elections team has allegedly told the chief's subjects to vote in Mafutseni or forget about the elections.

The chief has contacted another chief under which his subjects would register. This is Chief Mgebiseni of Ngculwini.

"I see no reason why the RA and the Elections and Boundaries Committee (EBC) can disallow us to use this centre," said the chief.

He confirmed having met with EBC Chairman Chief Gija together with Mafutseni Chief Ngalonkhulu during which meeting they discussed how they could hold the elections but did not agree.

This was because registration was to be undertaken by Mafutseni clerks. He said his subjects objected to this because it bordered on sacrificing their 'sovereignty'. The Mafutseni clerks were to come to Mahlabane to register the voters.

"It was then finalised that Mahlabane people will register at Mahlabane egushede, pending the finalisation of the matter. I was surprised when I heard him (Chief Gija) calling people from Mahlabane to register at his umphakatsi yet the matter is still under discussion," he said.
He then demanded an apology from the elections chief.

Chief Gija, when reached for comments, referred all queries to the office. “There is nothing much to say because I have already said what is necessary,” he said.

Prince Masitsela says his office recognises Chief Mbhungu Mabuza as Jubukweni chief not Mahlabane as he claims.

Jubukweni is in the Hhohho Region while Mahlabane is under the Manzini region.

The prince said Mbhungu was appointed in 2004 by His Majesty King Mswati III as Chief Mbhungu Mphakwa Mabuza of Jubukweni who succeeded Siyaluza Mabuza.

Chief Mbhungu says Mahlabane is also under his jurisdiction.

LEARN VITAL POLLING LESSONS

Khulumani

Comment

Vital lessons to learn from Kenya, Zim experiences

By Lomcebo Dlamini

In between the aftermath of the Kenyan elections and the holding of the much anticipated Zimbabwean harmonised elections, it is appropriate to consider what lessons these experiences and the governance issues they raise, may hold for Swaziland as we prepare -albeit belatedly - for the 2008 parliamentary elections.

A number of debates characterised political discourse in the country raising issues such as the following:

- the tinkhundla system of governance and its ability to deliver a truly
democratic dispensation;
- political power: its seemingly sole entrenchment in the office of the
- Monarchy and the implications of this on democracy;
- the illegality of political parties since 1973 and despite the provisions of
- the new Constitution as well as their ability and capacity to contest for
and effectively exercise political power within the current system;
- the varied positions of political formations and civil society groupings on
whether to advocate for participation or boycott of the 2008 elections;
- the role of the citizenry in participating freely in matters relating to their
self-determination and governance;
- the role of the legislature and the capacity of legislators to perform the
expected duties and responsibilities; and
- the relative political illiteracy of the populace and the need for civic
education

The national Constitution has raised the level of discussion of these matters due to some of its provisions which introduce some changes the situation that was governed by the 1973 King's Proclamation to the nation, whose provisions and enforcement are largely held responsible for diminishing civil liberties and creating a fear of political activism amongst the populace.

Amongst the significant changes introduced by the Constitution are the recognition of the freedoms of association, assembly and expression, the establishment of an Elections and Boundaries Commission; and the minimum quota of 30% women in Parliament and the procedures aimed at achieving this number.

Despite the commencement of the operation of the Constitution in 2006, to date, there has been no meaningful implementation of its provisions; those relating to the elections are no exception, despite the urgency of the situation.

The main question therefore is with respect to our preparedness to hold elections. In this regard, if one looks at the general expectation that parliamentary elections are usually held in October, and that according Section 134 (2) Subject to the provisions of subsections (3) and (7) Parliament, unless sooner dissolved shall stand dissolved five years less two months from the date of first meeting of the House following a general election...'the delay in the appointment of the Elections and Boundaries Commission will be to the detriment of the elections process. In addition, the legislation governing elections - namely, the 1992 Elections Order, Voter Registration Order and Establishment of Parliament Order - precedes the Constitution and therefore does not incorporate the changes introduced by the Constitution.

Further, it is important to appreciate that the conduct of elections is a complex process, involving intricate and extensive planning.

For instance, processes such as confirmation of inkhundla constituency boundaries, voter registration, the preparation of the voters' roll, the training and deployment of electoral officials to undertake the various activities required such as the nominations and voting for the primary (at chiefdom level) and secondary (at inkhundla level) elections at the various polling stations, and preparation of ballot papers are lengthy and require close attention in order to attain as much accuracy as possible and limit post-election conflict. Yet, none of these processes - including civic and voter education - has begun.

In fact, the nation presently knows nothing about the conduct of this year's election. There are speculations, but nothing official - except the appointment of the Elections and Boundaries Commission which itself has been a source of controversy - that has been released to the populace regarding this critical national issue. It will be difficult for the citizenry to engage with the process if it continues to be shrouded in silence.

Another of the main concerns that often accompany elections is that regarding whether an election was ‘free and fair’ - the meaning of which has been considerably debated.

However, regardless of how it is interpreted, it is important to realise that the notion of ‘free and fair’ should not be invoked only to pronounce on the atmosphere or political climate on the actual election day(s) but must be interrogated in a holistic manner, taking cognisance of all that leads up to those days in which Swazis cast their votes.

There has been various commentary on how the "free and fair" question cannot be applied to Swaziland because of the nature of the tinkhundla system of governance where, due to the individuality of the candidates, their allegiance to the King and the absence of mechanisms to ensure accountability, there really is no possibility of introducing changes to government, because while it may be new faces, government (and its policies and lack of power) remains the same creature.

Nonetheless, the reality is that it is the system that obtains and will govern the elections and therefore must be subjected to these questions of ‘freeness’ and ‘fairness’.

It is submitted that Swaziland's political history - characterized by the repercussions of the assumption of supreme political power by the former King Sobhuza II and inherited by King Mswati III which saw political upheaval, and the suppression of political dissent - cannot be ignored because its legacy has created a populace that seems apathetic to political engagement, an apathy that has been nourished by the experience of harsh recrimination of those who challenged the system and their labeling as ‘unSwazi’.

In a society such as ours, particularly if there is sincerity in the assertion that we are now in a new democratic dispensation, it is critical that there be extensive civic education - not just for purposes of the election, but also for purposes of empowering the citizenry on the meaning of being a citizen and the importance of citizen participation as part of governance if the ‘damage’ inflicted on the political awareness of the population over the past 34 years is to be undone and the expected "freeness and fairness" is to be attained.

Apart from the national obligations in accordance with the Constitution, Swaziland is also party to the SADC Declaration on the Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Election. According to the declaration, 'SADC Member States shall adhere to the following principles in the conduct of democratic elections:
i. Full participation of the citizens in the political process;
ii. Freedom of association;
iii. Political tolerance;
iv. Regular intervals for elections as provided for by the respective National Constitutions;
v. Equal opportunity for all political parties to access the state media;
vi. Equal opportunity to exercise the right to vote and be voted for;
vii. Independence of the Judiciary and impartiality of the electoral institutions; and
viii. Voter education.
ix. Acceptance and respect of the election results by political parties proclaimed to have been free and fair by the competent National Electoral Authorities in accordance with the law of the land.
x. Challenge of the election results as provided for in the law of the land.

Juxtaposing the above principles with the preceding discussion on the existing situation, it is submitted that Swaziland is already in violation of some of the principles and in danger of violating others if the situation is not adequately corrected.

For MISA, as an advocacy organization that aims to contribute to the greater exercise of democracy through promotion of the freedom of expression, in particular through the media, it is important to note that the media is critical in the electoral process.

It will be through the media - both print and electronic - that the large majority of citizens will obtain information about the elections - the preceding processes such as voter registration and the dates for the election.

It will be through media coverage that potential voters will know about the candidates contesting the elections. It will be again through the media that issues related to the elections are discussed, and clarified.

It will, therefore, be important that the media also be adequately prepared and capacitated to closely monitor the electoral process and give qualitative analyses on it. It is common cause that the media itself faces constraints and impediments in conducting its work under the current conditions where there remain a variety of restrictions - legal as well as socio-cultural - on its ability to do its work effectively.

Nonetheless, this period should provide an opportunity for the media to also expand its horizons in ensuring access to information and being a platform for discussion of issues of national importance. It is hence critical that media takes advantage of opportunities or capacity building in this area and also learns from the media coverage of the various electoral processes that have occurred in the region as well internationally.

As we consider the challenges confronting the country, it is also important to note the opportunities to change this situation where, and if they exist.

The reality is that these elections are being conducted in a climate where there is an absence of consensus as to the political system and the appropriate political direction of the country.

The question therefore arises as to how best to contribute towards change within this context: should one participate in the hope for incremental changes to the system or should one refrain and seek other alternatives?

The holding of the elections is inevitable and hence this is a question that each Swazi will have to ask herself or himself and regardless of the choice that is made, it will influence the political evolution of the country.

Lomcebo Dlamini is Chairperson – MISA Swaziland

First published in Khulumani, the newsletter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Swaziland chapter, issue 11 (January – March 2008).

SWAZI YOUTH RALLY FOR ELECTIONS

Swazi Observer

17 June 2008

SNYC rallies youth for elections

THE Swaziland National Youth Council (SNYC) has embarked on a campaign to empower the youth to take part in the coming election.

The exercise was held at the Mater Dolorosa High School hall yesterday.

The theme, ‘empowering the youth’, was core in educating the youth about the importance of taking part in elections.

Addressing the gathering, SNYC Chief Executive Officer Maxwell Jele thanked the youth for availing themselves in the campaign. He also asked the youth to raise questions concerning the electoral processes.

Amongst the guests who took part in the campaign is Director of youth affairs Bheki Tfwala, Elections and Boundaries Commission Deputy Chairperson Mzwandile Fakudze as well as Jele.

“The youth is the people of today,” Fakudze said. He asked the youth not to be influenced by others in shunning the elections. He said they should partake in everything that happened in their constituency in order to have access in the youth funds.

“Today its your chance to be elected,” he said. He warned the youth against being spectators rather than being participants during these elections. Praises were given to the youth and were urged to be the first on the election list.

“Africa needs intelligent and educated people. The youth should value knowledge and information in that they should know where to get proper information as well as knowledge.”

He further stated that to be elected has nothing to do with dignity but with the individual. He gave them a philosophic account of the qualities of a leader, being:
Lead yourself in order to discover the potential in you,
self-discovery,
focus (which gives life and direction),
creativity and
be willing to be criticised.

THREATS OF BLOOD AT SWAZI POLL

Swazi Observer

17 June 2008

THREATS OF BLOODSHED AT ELECTIONS

By Faith Vilakati

MAHLABANE residents are threatening to boycott the national elections if they are to vote under Chief Ngalonkhulu of Mafutseni umphakatsi instead of Chief Mbhungu Mabuza whom they claim to be their rightful chief.

In different interviews, community members said if they were forced to register under a chief they do not recognise, there would be bloodshed.

This follows an announcement made on Sunday, during a meeting the community held with the elections facilitators, whereby they were told to register and vote under Chief Ngalonkhulu.
This means that registration clerks will have to move from Mafutseni to Mahlabane to register the over 3 000 eligible voters.

The residents pleaded with the Elections and Boundaries Committee to allow them to register and vote under Chief Mgebiseni of Ngculwini Royal Kraal.

Delisile Thwala, the most vocal resident, said they were up in arms and ready for anything, stressing that they did not want to see anyone from Mafutseni Umphakatsi at their community at anytime.

“We have our own chief who was recognised by the King and there is no way we can vote under another chief.

I would like to warn the Mafutseni people not to dare come to Mahlabane to register us because they will be dead men, we are ready for anything. For the past 15 years we have not been voting and we have had enough of this.

"We also want to be heard and respected as citizens of the country,” said Thwala.

Mathole Mabuza echoed Thwala’s words, stressing that they wanted to be recognised.

“I have been around this place for sometime now and can attest that we have our own chief.

For over 10 years we have not been represented in parliament and if we are to vote under Chief Ngalonkhulu, we would rather stay like this for the next five years, we are used to it,” he said.
They disclosed even tried to seek audience with Ludzidzini governor Jim Gama who referred them to the Manzini Regional Administrator (RA) Prince Masitsela but nothing happened.

“Gama said the RA was to arrange a meeting for us with the Elections and Boundaries Committee Chairman Chief Gija but that meeting never materialised,” she added.
Reached for comments, Prince Masitsela said the issue of the two chiefdoms would only be settled by His Majesty the King.

He added that the division started a while ago and it was now tough for him to comment because the issue was now ‘heavier’ than he could handle.

“All I can say to Mahlabane community is that they must register for the elections,” the prince said.

Link http://www.observer.org.sz/main.php?id=44665&section=main

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

SWAZI PARLY DROPS ELECTION LAW

Times of Swaziland

17 June 2008

S’gayoyo withdraws elections bill in Parly

BY ARTHUR MORDAUNT

LOBAMBA – It appears the controversy around the elections law is far from over as, yet again, an election law has been withdrawn in Parliament.

This time, the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Bill, 2008 was withdrawn in Senate before it was tabled.

The Bill was withdrawn by Public Service and Information Minister Sgayoyo Magongo who was standing in for the incumbent minister, Prince David.

Magongo did not give an explanation for the withdrawal but simply apologised to the Senate President, Gelane Zwane and said he was withdrawing the bill pending certain consultations he had to make. He did not specify the type of consultations and where he was going to make them.

Before withdrawing the bill, Magongo first tabled two other bills from the same ministry. When it was time to table the EBC Bill, however, Magongo held a brief chat with Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Mathendele Dlamini.

apologies

Zwane had to call him again before he rose and made his apologies.

In an interview after the sitting, Magongo said Prince David had not briefed him on whether he should table the bill or not.

He said he was yet to consult with the prince and if he gave the go ahead, the bill would be tabled tomorrow.

This is not the first time the bill has been withdrawn. The first was about a month ago when Prince David personally withdrew the bill in the House of Assembly. He did not give reasons.
At the time, he withdrew the bill together with two other elections Bills (the Voters Registration Bill and Elections Bill).

He withdrew them after a fierce debate from the legislators who felt that they were being taken for granted. They said the minister was only bringing the bills to Parliament for formality’s sake as the EBC was already working yet the law empowering them to do so was being tabled by the minister on that day.

It is not clear how the bills would be brought back to Parliament as the Standing Orders stipulate that a withdrawn bill cannot be brought back within the same session. However, the tricky part now is that this is the last session of the 8th Parliament and the withdrawn laws are for conducting the next elections to be held between July and August.

SWAZI SOCCER PLAYERS ELECTIONS SCAM

Times of Swaziland

17 June 2008

Soccer players in elections scam

BY SIBUSISIWE NGOZO

MBABANE - Seven men, including four soccer players, are being investigated after they allegedly attempted to register in two different areas for the upcoming elections.

The seven allegedly first registered at Mhlume and a few days later tried to register at Simunye.
Four of them are soccer players of a local football team based at Mhlume.

According to a source close to the matter, the seven were caught after one of the clerks who knew them raised her suspicion about them.

The clerk wanted to know why they came from all the way to Simunye to register yet they reside at Mhlume. They could not give a clear explanation.

"It was upon further investigations that it was revealed that they had registered two times much against the laws," said the source. The names of the seven appeared in both registration books of Simunye and Mhlume centres, which was enough evidence that they had cheated.
The players and their friends were taken for questioning by the police on Sunday afternoon and were later released after they recorded statements.

investigations

The source said the seven alleged that they had been asked by one aspiring MP, to register again so they could vote for him. The names of the players and the aspiring MP are known to this newspaper, but will not be disclosed for now pending finalisation of police investigations into the matter. The players when questioned by the police allegedly confessed that they had registered two times after they were given food.

The men allege that the parliament hopeful promised them a party if they agreed to cheat in the registration so his chances of winning would be enhanced.

The source said the players allegedly said since it was off-season, they did not have much food so when they were offered food they jumped at the opportunity. When the police PRO, Superintendent Vusi Masuku, was contacted, he confirmed the matter. He said the Lubombo Criminal Investigation Department (CID) were still investigating after they received information that there were people who registered twice in Simunye and Mhlume.

"The voters’ cards of the seven men have been confiscated by the police and will form part of the exhibits," he said.

He went on to say that no arrests had been made pending investigation.

Masuku then advised members of the public to desist from corrupt and illegal practices that were in violation of the elections process.

Monday, June 16, 2008

SWAZI POLL BOYCOTT CRUMBLING

Swazi Observer

16 June 2008

Inhlava registers for the elections

By Njabulo Dlamini

INHLAVA Forum political party irked comrades from similar formations when its chairman and co-founder Mfomfo Nkambule declared they were registering for the elections.

Even though he quickly clarified they registered and were not participating, many were left not convinced.

"Yes, we are registering and are at strategic points to ensure people are empowered with information on the upcoming elections for them to make informed choices on whether they could change the system," he said.

Nkambule said by registering, they were placing themselves in a better position to be heard when campaigning for a boycott of the elections process.

"You should be at the centres and pass information to the people so as to pass the message effectively," he said.

His intervention came after one of the speakers from the floor wanted to know whether Inhlava was 'confused' with its policies by passing out different messages on the elections.
participating

Apparently, Nkambule had given an interview to the media that his organisaton was participating in the elections yet at the Royal Swazi Sun on Friday, he informed the audience they were boycotting.

This was during CANGO's Multi-Party Consultative Conference technically supported by Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA).

The theme was: Swaziland Democracy Now.

The Inhlava chairman dismissed the constitution as a document not crafted to protect and promote the citizens' interest but that of a few.

"As Inhlava, we intend using every available opportunity to get the message across- we only require the people to rally behind us.

authorities

People have the brains and this they could use to outsmart the authorities of the land.
"We registered because we want to engage the people i.e. what change they will attain through participating in the exercise (elections).

Generally, the system undermines the people since the top-down approach is used. We need people with the courage to make others see what they currently can't see."

Link http://www.observer.org.sz/main.php?id=44633&section=main