Thursday, July 31, 2008

'DISABLED NOT ALLOWED TO VOTE'


Times Sunday
6 July 2008

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SHOCK OVER ELECTIONS PAY


Swazi News
5 July 2008

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US PLEDGES AID FOR SWAZI ELECTIONS

Swazi Observer

4 July 2008

Americans pledge assistance for elections


THE American government says it is ready to respond to a request to assist with the election observers, candidate training and other election-related services.

American Ambassador Maurice Parker says the up-coming general elections provide Swaziland with the opportunity to take a step forward and elect motivated representatives to parliament.


He said these are people who can advocate for good governance and persecution for those who are corrupt.

Link http://www.observer.org.sz/main.php?id=45122&Section=main&articledate=Thursday,%20January%201,%201970

EU SNUBS SWAZILAND ELECTION

Times of Swaziland
2 July 2008

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EU PRAISES VOTER TURNOUT


Swazi Observer
2 July 2008

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OVER 350 000 REGISTER TO VOTE


Times of Swaziland
1 July 2008

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COUNTDOWN TO SWAZI ELECTIONS



Nation Magazine
July 2008

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GEARING UP FOR SWAZI ELECTION

Nation Magazine
July 2008

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MPS GET E30 000 TO CAMPAIGN


Times of Swaziland
30 June 2008

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WHO RUNS THE KINGDOM?

Times of Swaziland

24 June 2008

Comment

By Mbho Shongwe

Want to be an MP? Then read this

…. Most of the people who find themselves on these lists lack quality and reputation, hence add no value to the appointing authority

If the constitution is any document to go by, on or before August 30, 2008, Swaziland will be having a new Parliament. During the same time, the kingdom will be having the new prime minister with the other ministers of the Crown.

The new Cabinet will be faced with final­ising the preparations and activities of the double 40-40 Celebrations. Who will be running government after June 30,2008? The constitution does not provide for a way out as was applicable with the council of ministers after dissolution of Parliament according to the dictates of April 12,1973 decree which of course served as a constitution.

It is hoped that, this time around, a sworn member of the House of Assembly will be appointed prime minister. The practice of appointing a stranger as the prime minister and making him/her a member of the house is not consistent with the constitution.

It is also hoped that the deputy prime minister will come from Senate to balance the equation and promote good governance. Clause 67(1) of the constitution says "The king shall appoint the prime minister from among members of the house acting on recommendation of the King's Advisory Coun­cil".

While, other Swazis are preparing for the elections others are seeking for the prime minister and probably his/her ministers and the rest are lobbying to be prime ministers, ministers, being on the king's appointee lists; House of Assembly, Senate and other com­mittees.

One can imagine the sweet talking and backstabbing within the corridors of power and behind those walls. Have these processes of having people on the king's lists benefited the nation and or the king? Your guess is as good as mine. Most of the people who find themselves on these lists lack quality and repu­tation, hence add no value to the appointing authority and good governance in general. However, let us look at the first day for both elected and appointed Members of Parlia­ment (MPs) when they occupy their seats where their name tags are placed with hon­ourable (Hon) before their initials and sur­names.

This then means that they should be hon­ourable throughout their term, in Parliament, communities and nation at large. They are sworn in one by one by the clerk of Parlia­ment. They are also exposed to the Standing Orders which guards them and tells them how they should behave and conduct themselves in the house.

Determine

Their most important task in that meeting is to elect the speaker. Besides, their naiveness, of the Standing Orders, its operations and at that short notice are expected to perform a job that will determine the future workings of the house. They do not know each other, have no proper background of the person they will elect as the speaker. In the house, one simply stands to say something, the rais­ing of hands is not allowed.

Then, one member may propose a name of a member or non-member to be elected speaker. If seconded, the clerk of Parliament, presiding over this process would ask for a written motion and acceptance letter from the proposed individual. While, still looking for the unknown in their minds and wonder­ing, one would propose for closure of the nominations and if seconded, you have the speaker.

This is just showing that lobbying is carried outside the house. At times an illegal motion may be ushered into the house by non-sworn member, who may come late to be sworn in. Once the speaker has been elected and taken his/her position, the Standing Orders are in full operation and members are at liberty to raise issues. After these traumatic experiences, members must quickly read clauses 54,57 -58, 64 - 69 and 72 of the Standing Orders (2006) as amended. The next task is to elect 10 non-members to Senate, half of which must be females and four (4) females to join the house if female members were less than thirty (30) per cent according to clause 86(1,2) of the constitution.

These processes are surrounded by a wave of lobbying and arm twisting tendencies, especially to the na├»ve and timid new members. Members decide and agree on the numbers to be nominated before, the voting for the senators which means that debating has started. The speaker has the upper hand when he/she opens up nomi­nation time. He/she may have asked all those members he/she will give a chance to nominate, hence knows the candidates they are carrying. It can be seen from the very beginning how MPs can easily be manipu­lated. Besides, this intimidation, members will be put on endless hopes and promises thus subjected into some kind of numb­ness on vibrant issues for the benefit of the electorate. Some issues raised in Parliament may make a member to be unpopular to Cabinet and or presiding officers, thus los­ing many opportunities.

These opportunities include to be ap­pointed a Cabinet minister, serving in cer­tain committees, trips and other assign­ments. Why is one raising these ever dan­gled carrots in the face of the members? It is true that some members do not know why they are in Parliament or they are only concerned about selfish ambitions.

Therefore, members must not lose the mandates and aspirations of the electorate. The electorate needs to be masters of their destiny and in order to achieve this, ena­bling laws must be crafted and put in place.

Without, saying that those aspiring to be members of Parliament must first go to school, it is very important for them to know how to read and write in English. This is true if they want to be effective in Parliament work. The bills are crafted in legal English.

Otherwise, they will only remain the vot­ers of debates raised by others because they do not understand and cannot raise mean­ingful motions and questions to benefit their communities and the entire nation. Then, all these MPs will be participating on is 'the ayes or nays have it', meaning yes or no processes. MPs are the link between central government and their communities, in a vice versa mode..

As a test, any person willing to go to Parliament must read and understand this article in less than three minutes.

RITUAL MURDERS ADVERT


Times of Swaziland
24 June 2008

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'KILL ALL RITUAL MURDERERS'

Swazi Observer

24 June 2008

Kill all ritual murderers

By Nomsa Nxumalo

Mbabane

SINCE the registration process began, quite a number of people have been mur­dered.

We took a random interview whereby read­ers felt the murder of two women at Elangeni was directly linked to the election fever grip­ping many voters. This is what they had to say.

Mashesha Tfwala (marshal)

Those people are killed by their relatives. This thing is not in connection with the elections.

Sikelela Maduna (taxi driver )

The elections should stop. We have never come across such a situation. Those murderers are told by traditional healers to do such evil acts. I think they deserve the death sentence. At the same time you would think murder is legal in this country because our government fails to deal with these people accordingly.

Meshack Ntjentjeza Mngomezulu (taxi driver)

We have not experienced such murders for a long time. So it is clear that this thing is in connection with the election. I think we need to be educated about the elections so that we know the truth and the road to the traditional healers will vanish.

Jabulani Zwane

The King must reactivate the death sentence (inkemba) and those who kill by the sword should also die by the sword. These elections are a waste of time, only the King must choose the people who will go to parliament.

Khetsiwe Nkhambule (16 years)

The elec­tion plays a major role in the murdering of people. People must make sure they are safe. They must avoid hitching for lifts and be indoors early enough.

Xondile Tfwala (31) street vendor

We are very shocked and our government must take action. The murderers deserve the death penalty (inkembo)so these acts can come to an end.

Fikile Dlamini

These people are driven by the devil and they have lost their conscience (bonembew). How can they kill women like that. Women play a very important role. The election fever contributes a lot to these mur­ders. "I feel very sorry because these people may be granted bail by the courts and then come back and continue with their work.

Make Gama

I'm so hurt by the loss of those innocent souls. I feel like the whole parlia­mentary process should just stop. If things could happen as I wish, the murderers must also be cut in every part of the body.

Babe Mthembu (59 years)

I'm very disap­pointed because the murderers hide behind the elections to commit these heinous crimes. They deserve strong punishment or be cut a finger each day. We can only rest once they are arrested.

Make Simelane

Kill all of them.

NO STRINGS TO VOTER REGISTRATION


Swazi Observer
24 June 2008

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PUDEMO SWAZI ELECTION RALLY

Times of Swaziland

23 June 2008

PUDEMO hold rally at Maseyisini Constituency

BY SIHLE DLAM1NI

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.

RITUAL MURDERS AND ELECTIONST

Times of Swaziland
23 June 2008

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Monday, July 28, 2008

HUGE SWAZI ELECTION COSTS


Times of Swaziland
23 June 2008

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PRAY FOR SWAZI ELECTION SUCCESS

Times of Swaziland
23 June 2008

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SWAZI CONSTITUTION IS NO USE

Khulumani

2008

Comment

Constitution won’t have any impact on elections

By Vusi Sibisi

The dawn of a new constitutional era on 26 July 2005 was not surprisingly greeted by a combination of euphoria, trepidation and generally mixed feelings - depending on which side of the political spectrum one was - across the nation.

For the minions of the Tinkhundla political system, or whatever it is, it must have been fait accompli since from the onset the constitutional reform process was tailor-measured size fits all of them at the exclusion of all other citizens. And in practical terms they provided a ready source for the rented crowds that were essential to rubber stamp the circus that was showcased by the royal appointees driving the process during the so-called gathering of the people's inputs in return for, need I say very rare, hearty meals.

For the proponents of multiparty political system it was the betrayal of the highest order by the ruling class, which, by design, ensured their complete exclusion from and non-participation in the process. And true to form, they were excluded even from the constitution itself hence political parties remain banned even though the constitution guarantees freedom of assembly and of association.

For those on the political fence it was a matter of wait and see which ay the wind blows before painting their colours to the mast. And lat is where they remain to date owing to the contradictions of the constitution. They cannot throw their weight behind the obtaining political hegemony because of uncertainty on how the contradictions would be resolved if and when the constitution is challenged in the courts. And for the same reasons they also cannot come out in support of multiparty politics. They would rather remain on the fence because they do not want to alienate anyone on either side of the huge political divide.

Then there are professional and other interest organizations whose take on the new constitutional order was mixed and varied. Amongst these is the media, the so-called Fourth Estate, which is the subject matter at issue in the face of the forthcoming elections. On paper journalists appear to be well protected and secured from the vagaries of the daily grind in that freedom of the press is guaranteed by the constitution in Chapter III, Section 24 under the protection of freedom of expression of the Bill of Rights as follows;

24. (1) A person has a right of freedom of expression and opinion;

(2) A person shall not except with the free consent of that person be hindered in the enjoyment of the freedom of expression, which includes the freedom of the press and other media, that is to say

(a) freedom to hold opinions without interference;

(b) freedom to receive ideas and information without interference;

(c) freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference (whether the communication be to the public generally or to any person or class of persons); and

(d) freedom from interference with the correspondence of that person.

And this, 2008, being an election year should be an epoch in the annals of the history of the Kingdom of eSwatini for it would be for the second post-independence election to be held under a constitutional order. The first one, if I recall very well, being the elections for the second and last post-independence parliament that was ousted by the King's Proclamation to the Nation of 12 April 1973 that effectively banned politics within the borders of the Kingdom of eSwatini except if practiced by the governing Imbokodvo National Movement that was behind the coup against the independence constitution.

And if 2008 is the epoch-making year that it is slated to become, what are the expectations from a media perspective? My take is that with or without the constitution and with or without freedom of the press, there is little that will change apropos past elections when the nation goes to the polls slated for later in the year. The reason being that it is still one and the same player that this election is exclusively preserved for and that is the proponent of the Tinkhundla tyranny.

Unless and until proponents of multiparty democracy enter the fray and contest the elections, the conning elections would be a replay of previous elections. Yet participation of the as yet illegal political parties would naturally change the ball game in its entirety, which would in turn also impact on how the media covers the elections. Then there would be an elevation of a national agenda comprising of national imperatives and priorities above the myopic machinations of naive individuals who are clueless about the functions of parliament yet would be campaigning to be elected. Then there would be meaty issues for the media to grapple with if it can creatively spread itself to all the 55 constituencies.

In fact that is the difference between the media's reporting of elections elsewhere in the world where multiparty democracy is now second to nature and, therefore, not an issue and the Kingdom of eSwatini where individuals as opposed to political parties contest elections. Then the media plays a pivotal role in helping people take informed decisions by interrogating party manifestos and their concomitant agendas and priorities relative to national imperatives without having to overextend scarce human and financial resources.

But under the Tinkhundla tyranny, the media operates differently if not impossibly during elections. For one, it has to expend resources it does not have in reporting campaign stops and messages of individuals, some of whom have no clue of what is expected of them except that their primary objective is that fat pay cheque once they have made it to parliament. Thus whatever electioneering is happening, it is impossible to relate it to a national agenda or priorities let alone even those of the concerned geographic area of a particular constituency.

That the Elections and Boundaries Commission has just been appointed will also not help the situation in relation to both the media and the electorate. Part of the commission’s responsibilities is conducting civic education on elections; a task that appears out of the equation at this late hour when even the commissioners are still tackling bread and butter matters of wages. In turn this means the electorate would be lacking sufficient knowledge of and information about and ill prepared for the elections.

The media traditionally plays a vital role in such civic education exercises because of its reach. And without any such civic education one can expect that negotiating the election terrain would be extremely difficult for both the media and the electorate. However, the media can still play a significant role in this respect but it all rests with the Elections and Boundaries Commission and how prepared it is for the task of coordinating such civic education through a multi-media campaign that would ensure that the electorate is provided sufficient information through a media of choice.

If you ask me, the media is facing no different challenges than those it has faced in past elections. In terms, the constitution has not changed anything not least because no one cares if and when it is breached. For BaKaNgwane it might just as well be business as usual without or outside the constitution, so what and who cares!

Perhaps the ultimate challenge the media can oard without any express approval of anyone; that of deciding on and challenging election candidates to debate national imperatives and priorities. May be even under a discredited system such as Tinkhundla, such a platform can provide vibrant discussions and debates.

Otherwise the constitution won't change anything on the ground to influence how the media conducts itself and report on the elections because it is still the politically compromised and patronized Elections and Boundaries Commission that sets the tone and the boundaries of freedom of expression and how, where and when to exercise the same.

Vusi Sibisi is a freelance journalist working in Swaziland.

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

ARE SWAZI ELECTIONS WORTH IT?


Khulumani

2008

Comment

Elections in Swaziland: are they worth the hype?

By Muzi Masuku

The Commonwealth statement (above) remains a haunting indictment of the Swazi electoral system when we are only a few months to our next election.

I myself have been forced to reflect on Swaziland's election in light of the topical elections that were held in Zimbabwe at the end of March. Again our elections are supposed to happen on the backdrop of the exciting election panning out in the United States of America.

Even though the South African election is more than a year away, it still blights our election to nil especially with the interesting Polokwane developments and the distinct possibility of a Jacob Zuma presidency.

My reflection on the Swazi election in light of the aforegoing has led to my concluding that the Swazi election is inconsequential. Others might think that that is a rather harsh assessment or categorisation. Those who argue that the Swazi election is the most democratic will argue that I am in fact downright mad for daring to say such about their election. I however feel greatly vindicated in my assessment by the Commonwealth expert team's assessment of the 2003 election.

Why do we have an election in the first place? My rudimentary belief is that elections are held so that whatever government is holding the reigns will obtain a renewal of that mandate.

This, therefore, means that if the electorate is no longer happy with the way that a particular government is panning out, they will vote it out of office and replace it with a government which they believe will best represent their interests.

The flipside to this argument would be that elections are a means through which the general electorate participates in the governance of their affairs. My argument has always been that elections in Swaziland do not give the electorate an opportunity to punish one government and replace it with another because the candidates will be faced with the same set of circumstances whether they are learned or not.

Elections in Swaziland do not allow a candidate to articulate the real issues for which they are seeking a mandate from the electorate. It becomes irrelevant and does not resonate well with the electorate for one to declare that they want to go to parliament to enact a law that will regulate one thing or the next as their campaign motto.

It, however, becomes relevant for the candidate to argue that if elected to parliament he will do certain tangible things for that community or constituency. Thereby slogans such as s/he will build a bridge, or a clinic and even a school become the rallying cry for the respective candidates. Often this is a big white lie as this person is not likely to master the appropriate personal resources to carry out such a project.

At the same time when saying this they would not have been privy to government's plans on the rollout of the respective capital projects and the time when government intends to have what project in what area. A friend of mine once said that elections in Swaziland make liars of honest men.

While following debates on the American election and the articulation by the various presidential candidates especially Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton of their health plans, economic recovery plans, social welfare and other issues and the debates that ensue about the inadequacy of one plan as opposed to the other I could not help think that what we have is really a joke. My thoughts have been vindicated by a newspaper interview that some parliamentarians had wherein they were extolling their successes. I am afraid to say that it was the least impressive yet most of them want a renewal of their tenure in parliament.

The calibre of persons that our parliament attracts leaves a lot to be desired as well. Given the profile of parliamentarians in the current and previous parliaments, one can aptly surmise that the bulk of them are either the headmaster of the school in the locality or the local businessman who runs the grocery shop in the area or whose bus plies the local route. It is an irrefutable fact that these classes of people are highly influential characters who command a lot of respect in the communities from which they come. Their modus operand! in the actual run-up to the election is quite predictable. They have the appropriate wherewithal to buy the local soccer team a soccer kit and even sponsor the local soccer tournament.

In the months preceding an election, they will also avail their van to ferry bodies of dead people from their homes to the mortuary and back home for burial. They will also attend every funeral that is taking place in their constituency going on to offer a bag of maize and a vanload of firewood.

They will also start giving lifts to every person that appears to be standing at a bus stop. They will also start giving food hampers to the elderly in their areas. Those who are well-connected will organise that Philani Maswati come to their area to hand out blankets and food while at the same time extolling the wisdom and hard work of the organiser who will ironically be the prospective candidate. Unfortunately these are the things that win votes for a prospective Swazi parliamentarian.

As to what these people do once elected is a totally different ball game. There are parliamentarians who are known not to utter a word during serious debates. The very manner of voting in parliament means that we cannot even know how they voted on any issue that is presented before them.

The fact that parliamentarians can in a chorus say 'Ay' or 'Nay' with the vote going to those that made the loudest noise between the two groups means that we can never know how a parliamentarian exercised their vote especially if they were non-committal during the actual debate.

The letter by the Commonwealth team raised serious issues which are topical even today. One of those relates to the very independence of parliament itself. Given that we have in our constitution a very nebulously worded section 108 which effectively allows the King to veto parliament by refusing to endorse his assent until the lapse of a specified period of time means that we are at the behest of the King in so far as law making is concerned.

The very fact that we have a section 134 which entitles the King to disband parliament before their tenure of office is up without even giving reasons for that disbursement means that we have a severely incapacitated parliament.

Anyone who doubted the amount of power that the King wields in parliament should have witnessed the reaction of parliament to the 10 or so amendments that the King brought in from the throne during the debate of the current constitution. All these found their way in their entirety to the final text.

You can't help feeling that the entire government machinery in this country is shaped or engineered in such a way that it should serve the King and then the remnants of whatever remains can serve the general populace.

This can be witnessed in the way that everybody including parliamentarians can literally be seen to be bending over backwards to accommodate his every whims and caprices.

The King himself has not been unwise to this fact. This has seen him pushing the perimeters ever so often. The latest being his recent appointments to the Elections and Boundaries Commission. Instead of using the most credible yardstick that the constitution has set of appointing people to the commission that would otherwise qualify to be judges, he has instead looked within the royal court and identified royal hangers-on and relatives that are now tasked with managing Swaziland's electoral process.

Everyone will agree that the yardstick for testing "integrity" is very nebulous. It is, however, useful if your intentions are to appoint Chief Gija to be chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission. In a way he has in his ‘wisdom’ deemed it wise to keep a close hold on the machinery that runs the electoral process itself lest it runs its own course. This comes at a time when already staff in the Attorney General's Chambers had allegedly prepared an amendment to the constitution which sought to lower the standards that the constitution demanded of a holder of this office.

This stranglehold on parliament happens at a time when there is a growing tendency to disburse funds from the Throne. Parliamentarians have always been at pains after every speech from the throne to outdo themselves in bestowing praises to the King for a wise and wonderful speech. One wonders when are they going to query or take up issue with any allocation that the King would have made.

It would be wrong of me, though, to paint a picture of total gloom when in fact there are sterling performers that emerge at any given point in time in parliament.

Mtfongwaneni Member of Parliament Mfomfo Nkambule could be a case in point. However, one glaring thing about the system that is employed in parliament is that that very beacon of hope could effectively be rendered useless by being made to look like s/he is insane and pursuing a vendetta against certain people. From then on every parliamentarian will try to maintain a big distance between themselves and the purportedly troublesome parliamentarian lest they be seen to be birds of the same feather.

When he was Speaker of the House of Assembly, Minister Sgayoyo Magongo visited the South African parliament and was impressed with their portfolio committee concept.

He then introduced that in Swaziland going to motivate for the election of a parliamentary whip in MP Obed Dlamini. This position lost sight of the fact that the portfolio committees are most effective if they are a combination of opposition and ruling party members often with the opposition party holding the chairpersonship of that committee. This structure is likely to go to town exposing the inadequacies of their foes.

Even the concept of whips, it is party specific with the African National Congress and the Democratic Party having their own parliamentary whips who maintain order and certain standards of behaviour and decorum within their own party- You cannot have a general whip whom you hope will reign in errant tendencies from every member of parliament whom they are not even obliged to respect.

But given all that I have said above should we just fold our arms and continue to be spectators of this process? This is a question that a growing portion of civil society has been asking of late.


This has generated what I deem to be a healthy debate. Should we all be bending over backwards to accommodate the whims of one person or the few that enjoy the benefits or should we take the bull by its horns and participate in this electoral process with the hope of eventually reclaiming parliament for the people? This question has obviously come about because civil society actors have been spectating while the economy is being mismanaged and plundered left right and centre.

This group has been making varied suggestions such as saying that why don't we identify those of us who are keen to partake in this election and sponsor their candidature.

The expectation is that those people are then going to be beholden to us in terms of pushing forth a civil society agenda. Others have warned that there have previously been others who have tried to fight the system from within and have found themselves co-opted by the very system they set out to fight and have become its strongest advocates.

Others have warned of the rather rigorous manner in which the authorities have sought to protect their structures, institution and powers in such a way that any onslaught from without is contained. This includes putting on the constitution the types of quotas such as the ridiculous three-quarters majority that is demanded by section 247 on the amendment of specially entrenched clauses as well as section 108 and section 134 of the constitution. Partly owing to space limitation and the fact that there is a bigger civil society debate that will reflect on this position I will not expand on this debate.

But is this constitution in consonance with the advice that Don McKinnon was given by the Commonwealth Team of Experts? His lieutenant Ade Adefuyi made sure that he delivered to Swaziland a constitution that is in total variance with the advice given. It did not move Swaziland one inch away from the ungradable elections that is for freeness and fairness that the team wrote about 5 years ago.

Anyway McKinnon has got his pseudo Doctorate from the University of Swaziland to show for delivering a substandard text to us. I trust that this piece, however, begins to stimulate that necessary debate that has started within civil society on this very important topic.

Muzi Masuku is a lawyer by profession and works as Country Coordinator of the Open Society for Southern Africa (OSISA). He writes in his personal capacity.

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

ARE YOU READY FOR 2008?

Comment

The Nation

March 2007

Next year [2008] Swaziland will have its first elections under a constitution. Not since 1972 has this country held an election where people had some form of protection. We need to be careful who we elect to represent our various Tinkhundla in 2008. But then, there is no blueprint on what this Tinkhundla stand for, anyway. SIPHO NKOSI-DLAMINI reports.

Next year [2008] Swaziland will have its first elections under a constitution. Not since 1972 has this country held an election where people had some form of protection. We need to be careful who we elect to represent our various Tinkhundla in 2008. But then, there is no blueprint on what this Tinkhundla stand for, anyway. SIPHO NKOSI-DLAMINI reports.

What was the significant transformation history of the last century? I would say, for Africa, it was the liberation from colonialism. Unfortunately, it became mere substitution of a foreign oppressor by a home grown one in many of our African States.

The results were the coups that contributed to the pandemic state of poverty in the midst of plenty: good soil, human resources, rivers, forests, wild life, spectacular tourist attractions, preserved cultural identities, diverse natural resource development opportunities, etc.

Even though the imperialists had been removed from the Government, their control of the thinking and planning of development strategies remained ex patria through a clandestine assistance programme of "expert" advice from the colonial masters.

The masters helped educate the former subjects to think that expertise can only be obtained from the master and no indigenous persons can match even an inexperienced externally approved so-called expert.

Thus, we have become like mentally tethered chickens who cannot appreciate their freedom to own the copyright of their own problems and solutions.

One of the preachers in the electronic media has recently declared: "The whole world knows that Africa is a corrupt continent". This was an African pastor telling an unpalatable truth.

I was hoping someone would come up with a differing view. The silence has been deafening. So be it; self-criticism may help our strife towards 180degrees turn around. Let's continue praying!

Our Prime Minister is fighting a lone battle against corruption in Swaziland. He is alone because some of his cabinet colleagues are deeply involved and there are pending cases in court.

The mere implication of a high public officer resulting in an actual charge must be followed by a resignation, even before a trial, for bringing the office into disrepute.

In our country, one who is corrupt in most cases is protected and sometimes rewarded.

HMK assented to the Prevention of Corruption Bill. Accordingly, it became Act; but its effectiveness still relies on the election, by the responsible minister, of its effective date.

This is incomprehensible to the ordinary patriot. May we have some help here? The same law discourages retrospective prosecution. This means rewarding criminals for ill-gotten wealth. One is open to enlightenment again!

The multiple medical examinations the PM is undergoing may be due to the resultant stress of fighting the corruption battle alone. He has no reason to fight alone. The populace has long availed itself to fight the scourge; but the application of the fighting rules thrives on their ignorance of how effective their contribution can be.

The system may have its good attributes, except those visible to the advantaged, but the populace is disempowered to play a meaningful role. There are no means of establishing checks and balances to develop a culture of accountability with a motto of pro patria mori (to die for the fatherland).

Who must pilot the reduction of good governance?

The permanent government comprises the civil service. Unfortunately, it has become mostly uncivil and less serving. "I" has become the most important and "we" the least important thesaurus versions.

The exploitation of national resources for personal gain has become so rampant that it has become tempting even to the true civil servants. The Almon Mbingo's culture of upholding the General Orders and service integrity has died.

A new culture of 'what's in it for me?' has replaced patriotic service.

The old civil service was truly educated in the University of Life, albeit with a relatively brief encounter with the conventional classroom. Their good performance was motivated by the yearning desire to prove the former bosses wrong about their capability.

What is motivating the present civil service? Seemingly, it is money. The modern officers spend a large amount of time with witches instead of applying the knowledge they have acquired at the expense of the taxpayer.

The belief in these nocturnal consultations -as emboldened them to cheat the employer with impudence, even wish death to their hardworking colleagues. This is a disgrace to having been in any classroom/ lecture theatre.

Now that one has given a peephole view of the scenario, let's bring in 2008. This is the year of elections in Swaziland. We have a new constitution, allowing freedom of association and freedom to stand for elections.

Let anyone challenge the constitution as to the modalities of nomination, if need be.

What is motivating the present civil service? Seemingly, it is money. The modern officers spend a large amount of time with witches instead of applying the knowledge they have acquired at the expense of the taxpayer.

The belief in these nocturnal consultations -as emboldened them to cheat the employer with impudence, even wish death to their hardworking colleagues. This is a disgrace to having been in any classroom/ lecture theatre.

Now that one has given a peephole view of the scenario, let's bring in 2008. This is the year of elections in Swaziland. We have a new constitution, allowing freedom of association and freedom to stand for elections.

Let anyone challenge the constitution as to the modalities of nomination, if need be. The fact is that the constitution must be tested at the ballot box.

Hitherto, we have elected people who have gone to Parliament for themselves and not for us. They have demonstrated that through the clause deletions they made without consulting us. We saw them last during the previous elections and they have never come to us for consultations.

Whose mandate did they have to go to Parliament? To be honest, nobody's! Our choice of MP's was based on ignorance of the real issues. We elected persons on the basis of their birth, noisiness in the House, controversial sensationalism and a belief that they know our wishes.

We never told or instructed them of our expectations; they had no method of reporting to the electorate and they eventually became our bosses because of abdication of our responsibility as the electors.

The MPs have successfully thrived on the ignorance of the electorate about parliamentary issues. Who shall save us from this Animal Farm mentality?

Could any enlightened individuals please develop papers on what the vision, structural organisation, people participation, policy development, key policies (fiscal, education, health, agriculture, competition, liberalisation, security, general development, etc?) are of those who support the Tinkhundla and/or Multi-party 'democracy' dispensations. This will help us, the proletariat, to make informed decisions.

The system of democracy has been academically described in many countries with distinct differences such that it has become clear there is no application method cast in stone.

Democracy is merely a philosophy, attractive though it may seem, whose ideals are yet to be achieved. Even the so-called great democracies have used force to promote democracy. One thus wonders how the will of the people can be imposed from outside the community.

For the assistance of those who may have no idea of the origin of the thesaurus version democracy. It comes from Greek: demos = people + kratos = power. Democracy is therefore 'power to the people'. So, any one/group who promises democracy, must premise it on the power to the people i.e. the government belongs to the people; the people do not belong to the Government.

One must congratulate Sibahle Sinje for telling the populace that they have a strategy document for 2008, albeit now seemingly misty. This will be necessary for all Parliamentary aspirants to help the electorate to make informed decisions-on the type of candidate to vote for and indeed to formulate the mandate to give theii* representative.

Otherwise, many people will continue to regard registration and voting an exercise in futility.

The low turnout in recent elections is a sign of the level of disgruntlement. Unfortunately, this attitude enables leadership by the sandy blind.

The Chief Electoral Officer has come out in the media against any campaigning until the right time has been declared. Nonetheless, the electoral centres must be readied now so that the officials do not overstep their authority and the electorate is enabled to make decisions without surreptitious influences.

The electorate need understanding of the criteria and parameters they must employ in deciding on the candidates. We should not form a government that thrives on the ignorance of the people come 2008.