27 September 2008
‘Criminals, fraudsters voted in’
“Public office is synonymous with good standing, integrity and moral uprightness, but some of the incoming legislators seriously lack in those departments.”
This is the assertion of Mbabane businessperson and former legislator Walter Bennett, who lamented the fact that it was twice as sad that some of the ‘morally deficient legislators to be were police officers, from which the public expect nothing but moral uprightness from them.
“But then again, if the people vote for criminals and fraudsters, so be it, even though this can be blamed on the lack of civic education which would make people value their vote and give it to deserving people,” Bennett averred. The former Senator, well chronicled for his corruption busting antics, stated that a general code of conduct, community expectations and obligations for holding a public office bordered on the will to serve and not to enrich oneself, and the fact that some people who are alleged to have been caught with their hands on the cookie jar have made it into Parliament was worrying.
“Their being nabbed for acts like fraud automatically disqualifies them as they will work to line their pockets, instead of serving the masses who put them into that important office,” he said. Commenting over the overall outcome of the election and the quality of people it produced, Bennett stated that the relation between the voter and the person he votes for was similar to a leader and the led, teacher-student or even the preacher and the congregation.
“This means that anyone going to Parliament must be stain-free, but here we are elevating alleged fraudsters and even convicts to the honourable House. Where is the honour in such honourables,“ he said, wondering whether such a trend was a sign of greater things (in size) to come for the country? Bennett conceded though that the environment in the country was generally corrupt and this had filtered into Parliament as the same scenario had played itself out even in the last Parliament, which had a number of ‘honourable thieves.’
“This is sad because even the genuine legislators will be annihilated by the corrupt ones and their good deeds will be tainted by the general rot that will prevail. It is a well-known fact that some of the campaigns were sponsored by criminals, drug lords and other undesirables. Some of the electorate were coaxed into voting for some people with clothes from the Chinese factories and so forth, what good can come out of such corrupt lot,” he lamented, wondering as to where good values and virtues had vanished to amid our society.
He also noted that the EBC should concede the role money plays in such processes and ensure that genuine Swazis with the interest of the country at heart are not left out just because they do not have money, and are moral enough not accept campaign funds from corrupt funders.
He then slammed the lack of voter education that would be timely, and proper to educate the masses about the importance of their vote, saying it was not worth a loaf of bread or a second hand or reject T-shirt from a Chinese textile firm.
“We also need a fully capacitated and well paid EBC, as on their shoulders rests the quality of the votes. To the masses themselves, it would be wise that they acquaint themselves with Section 63 of the Constitution, which outlines the duties of a responsible citizen. We need all this since in Swaziland we do not have the power of recall. We should get things right from the word go, rather than get stuck with fraudsters and tricksters for a whole half a decade,” he closed.