Monday, September 15, 2008


Times of Swaziland

12 September 2008


‘like lipstick on a pig’

By Phephisa Khoza

A good quote to always have at hand as we draw close to the national elections scheduled for next Friday, would be one from American Presidential candidate Barack Obama when he said ‘like lipstick on a pig’.

Obama was incensed by Republican Presidential candidate John McCain’s campaign strategy that they ‘are for change’.

This, according to Obama, is what he and his team had been saying all along and found McCain’s hitchhiking of his campaign drive a bit on the ham side.

The comment explains itself quite clearly. It was the first thing that came to mind upon reading the campaign strategy used by Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Regional development and Youth Affairs, Hlobsile Ndlovu.

Ndlovu is also the out-going Member of Parliament for Pigg’s Peak and she is currently trying rather too hard to make sure she does not lose her seat come next week’s election.

She claims to have been the one behind the introduction of the elderly grants and the payment of educational fees for orphaned and vulnerable children.

Obama said it. Outside whether Hlobi is the person we have to thank for the grants, though I am sure the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) would have something to say, especially when quoting from their initial list of 27 demands, I am concerned with the continued abuse of the elderly and orphans.

I am extremely concerned and worried how the elderly and orphans just because they do not have a voice of their own, everyone claims to have their interest at heart.

No one is protecting the very people whom they claim they so much desperately want to make their lives better.

Does going around and having people give you their old clothes and blankets constitute doing something worthwhile for the elderly and orphaned? This is all done with the hope that people will notice and believe that you are the person who will save them from poverty. Who is protecting the elderly and orphans?

This was, besides the others, another disappointment from reading the Hlobi campaign strategy. I am yet to appreciate how someone in her position would fail to talk policy but instead join those who are abusing the elderly and orphans by saying they will work for them if elected.

If I had it my way, these are the people who do not deserve a seat in Parliament and should not be voted for. Yes, it includes Hlobi.

I am in full support of the ‘Vote for a Woman’ campaign because it is clear in its objectivity and that is what it is needed. The debate of whether women can actually deliver is still open but at least they are not using the disadvantaged such as the elderly and orphans to push their agenda.

I was particularly impressed but at the same time upset by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) officials during the visit earlier this year by the FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta.

I was upset because they would not allow the media to listen in when Laporta had a heart to heart chat with some of the children and families that benefit from the UNICEF/Barcelona relationship. I asked one official why they had bothered to invite the press if they would not be allowed to execute its duties fully. We were not allowed to conduct interviews even with the survivors even afterwards.

She explained that they were protecting the children.

"We understand and appreciate how you work and that you are also in a business to make money. You, however, have to understand that these children have suffered some form of abuse and some are HIV positive.

"Some of the areas we have been to are child headed homesteads. While we appreciate that you are professionals in your fields, we have to protect the children at whatever cost.

"You will run with your article, it will be good reading and you would have made your money at the expense of these children," she said.

It was too hot a day to argue further so I let it go. I appreciated how they, despite stepping on the toes of the media as the statement did give the impression that they do not fully trust the local professionals, went out their way to protect the elderly and orphaned.

Again, I say like lipstick on a pig and it is shameless when even seasoned politicians or so I thought lower themselves to such levels of disgust by abusing the underprivileged for their own selfish gain.


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