5 May 2008
YOUR VOTE, YOUR POWER
THE country is going to the polls later this year. Two weeks from now (May 19 - June 22,2008) registration begins.
The Swazi Observer Group of Newspapers would like to encourage every Swazi of the voting age to exercise his or her right to vote for a government of their choice. Your vote is your power.
It is only through honest participation in the elections that the Swazi nation can influence the political direction the country is to take. To waiver that inalienable right would be like shooting ourselves in the foot.
We have noted pockets of dissenting voices calling for an umbrella boycott of the elections and have listened to some of the reasons advanced for such a stance.
Those calling for the boycott of the process have told us that it is undemocratic and not in line with the universal protocols regarding elections.
They have also labelled the process as repressive. We cannot pretend that these voices are entirely wrong, or that there is absolutely no sense in what these pockets of dissent are saying.
As obtains in all systems of government the world over, we agree that the Tinkhundla system of governance must go through some periodical metamorphosis in line with global changes.
World trends and developments must be taken into account in all aspects of leadership so that a country is not left out or becomes irrelevant in the global scheme of things.
However, as a newspaper we believe that the only way to influence positive and constructive change to the system of governance in the country is not through a boycott of the elections.
On the contrary, we believe that the Swazi nation should decide on change peacefully via the polls; Far from it. His Majesty King Mswati in has promised the world that the leadership will ensure that conditions for a free and fair election exist.
It is not through a boycott inspired by a handful of people that we can put His Majesty's resolve to the test. It is by participating in the elections that we can change the course of Swaziland's future.
It was the people of Swaziland that called for a change in the country's election system from one of an electoral college to that of direct representation.
They did not see to these changes through a boycott of the electoral process, but by openly engaging the leadership and advancing compelling arguments which had the interests of the majority at heart.
The voice of the people was heard and there was no stopping the wave of popular demand. There are no compelling reasons to abandon that route now.
In fact, there is more to gain in participating in the poll than hi boycotting the process. Another point to ponder is that by wavering one's right to vote, one would be indirectly endorsing the system - as is. Look at it this way.
You do not register to vote because you say there are serious flaws in the system of governance. In fact, you do not vote because you say you are opposed to the system.
Your neighbour, who may be a stalwart, goes to register and fully participate in the system. What you have already done - wittingly or unwittingly - is that you have handed over your fate and future to the people you are so opposed to.
You will neither have the opportunity nor access to influence the direction the country will take -politically and otherwise.
You may complain to the international community about being left out, but your voice may not be heard as you will be told that you gave up your right to influence change.
One may be tempted to think that the route of violence may be the next option - but that is something else because once it starts, it never ends.
Whether that would be a sustain-able route in the circumstances is another matter to be discussed later. But, as a newspaper we would like to urge everyone to go to register to vote and to participate fully in exercising one's right to vote and choose a government that will represent the interests of the majority of the Swazi people.
Over the next few days, we will partner with the structures entrusted with ensuring a free, fair and credible election to bring you information about your rights, recourse, electoral resource material, polling stations, your options and all that you need to know about the process.
We shall not give up our calling to be a credible and critical newspaper. We shall not be in bed with the authorities. But, our first and last stop will be the interests of the ordinary public we serve.
We shall remain professional and balanced in everything that we do and there shall be no group of people - conservative or progressive -that will be denied reasonable space in the newspaper.
However, we have taken a position as a newspaper. We support the national elections and call upon all eligible Swazi people to exercise their right to vote.