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.