Monday, September 29, 2008


Weekend Observer

27 September 2008

Political system need to change

Lobamba Lomdzala MP elect Marwick Khumalo says the political system needs to change. In fact, he said the major responsibility of the new government would be to manage transition to a new political dispensation.

“We cannot rub away from the issue of change. Firstly, we need to be honest to ourselves when we do an assessment of this country. Today, in the entire region, Swaziland is only second to Zimbabwe in terms of poor economic growth. If Zimbabwe is No.14, we are No. 13 in terms of economic growth. You ask yourself why is that?

“Today in this country, people want their children to go and join the army as soldiers. Not because it is the good thing to do but because it is one of the few secure jobs available. Those of us who grew up in the middle 70s, had a host of opportunities and in fact, we ran away from being soldiers. People had a choice to go to the mines, sugar-belt and host of other opportunities.

“When you read a book by Botswana’s former President Ketumile Masire, he said in the early 80s Swaziland was far ahead of them in almost all respects, but look where we are today,” he said.

Khumalo said the leadership of this country has the challenge to take the lead and remove it from this quagmire. He said it no longer was a justification to say: “EmaSwati atsi.”

“I have faith in His Majesty King Mswati III to lead the country out of this quagmire we find ourselves in. Let us not rely on what the advisers say. Let me share this with you, in 1963, there was a referendum and Swazis chose a Lion instead of the other thing, which was the political parties.

“The British said, even when you have won the referendum, we have legislated that the first Legislative Council in June 1964 will be under the political parties.

“Despite what Swazis had said about political parties, King Sobhuza II in his wisdom decided to form Imbokodvo National Movement in order to beat the British in their own game. He announced it on April 16, 1964, hardly two months before the legislative council’s election in June.

“He never went back to the Swazis to say since you have rejected political parties, we will not participate, but he took the lead and formed one that would represent the interests of the Swazis,” he said. Khumalo said Imbokodvo won the Legislative Council seats in a landslide victory and so was the 1968 Parliamentary Elections.

“It was only in 1972 that they lost one seat to the opposition.

“The same happened in Tanzania, Julius Nyerere did a referendum between one party versus multi-parties. Tanzanians voted overwhelmingly for a single party, Chama Cha Maphiduzi (CCM). But Nyerere in his wisdom decided against it, saying all Tanzanians will vote for CCM, but if there are those who believe in something different they must be given space and contest as well. So it has been CCM through and through. He said because they are not an island, they live within a community of nations, other political parties will be allowed to contest power against their favoured CCM party.

“The same is happening in Botswana, the ruling party has been in power since independence in 1964,” he said.

Khumalo said that’s what stopped the one time Imbokodvo National Movement to do what it did in the 60s. “I say this because, the more we keep on delaying this question the more things get complicated for ourselves. By the time they decide to do it, they will find that they have no support of the masses.

“To say BakaNgwane want Tinkhundla, you will say that today and tomorrow it is quite another. You cannot bank on the electorate as it changes from time to time depending on the environment,” he said. Khumalo said it is time for the leadership to take the lead.

“We have seen His Majesty the King taking a lead on some of the sensitive issues in the past, what would stop him to do so now? He decided against a Constitutional clause that wanted to impose Christianity as the official religion. The whole country wanted it in the Constitution, but in his wisdom, decided that there shall be freedom of religion in this country.

“We respected that, because we thought he had hindsight of what we don’t know and we respected his call. Even today, this is what has to happen. We have not lost faith in him,” Khumalo said.

… Sive Siyinqaba can beat PUDEMO hands down

Khumalo said by forming Sive Siyinqaba National Movement they have tasted the mood of the Swazi populace.

“I can tell you today, for example, if you can pit us against PUDEMO, we can beat them hands down. What is it that stops the leadership to use that as a basis for their decision.

“This is because people who do not carry any political weight or have any political support on the ground undermine and bad mouth Sive Siyinqaba to be an enemy of the institution, yet it is the same organisation that protects the institution of the Monarch. It is interesting to note that those who bad mouth us, cannot even say a word to the electorate, when political parties are freed, they will be lost in the political system, because they don’t have political support or have courage to face the electorate,” Khumalo who doubles as Sive Siyinqaba’s Secretary General said.

New government must manage transition

The Lobamba Lomdzala MP elect said the principal responsibility of the new government will be to manage the transition from this political dispensation to a new one.

Khumalo said what is a fact is that the country will definitely not remain the same, even if it wants to. “We will have the external pressure to change. Zimbabwe’s problems seem to be getting out of the agenda.

“Don’t undermine the presence of the so many African observer missions during this election. Read carefully their reports, based on those reports our fate will be decided,” he said.

He said Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, after winning the so-called run-off election, went to the African Union Summit in Egypt where he claimed he had won, but the entire African Union leadership showed him all the African Mission Observers that discredited his victory and told him in no uncertain terms to go back home and forge a Unity Government.

“They quoted him the Pan African Parliament report, the SADC and AU Observer Missions reports and said to him all these reports don’t originate from some imperialists somewhere, but Africa, all indicating that the election was not free nor fair. How then does he justify his election,” he said. Khumalo said he is not one excited by multi-party democracy but what he is for is that a person should be free to choose. “A person must say I don’t want to be a member of any political party. I want to stand as an independent. The law should be such that it allows those who want to belong or form political parties. And those who want to run government as political parties should be free to do so.

“Those who want political parties should not suffocate those who want to be independent candidates. The independent candidate should not suppress political parties. The law should be such that all of us are accommodated. As it is right now, the law only accomodates individual representation, yet the Constitution talks of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and association. Those are the basic tenants for democracy. Where is the law that operationalise the existence of political parties and allow them to be in government? If anything, we will learn very late that political parties will in fact favour them more than they castigate them now.

The majority party, which will be purely conservative in nature, will favour the existing establishment, at least for some few years to come. “Look, as we talk, they are worried about the new Parliament as to what kind of animal it is. They don’t know how we will be and this will be so as long as we keep the current system of governance. Such a system does not allow for predictability – it can be something favourably to them or totally different animal to deal with,” Khumalo stated.

He said because MPs come from different shades, they end up ganging up against government, which is the Executive and shoot down anything they come up with. Khumalo said such a scenario is easily avoided in a multi-party state, because projects are carried out without much noise even though they may look unpopular to some people. “We gang up on issues against cabinet, which is forever on a weak position to convince the majority of the members.

“ If there is a ruling party, things would go smooth and the world would understand us and the economy would improve,” he said.

Khumalo said the other challenge will be to get the country out of the economic abyss it is in.

“All other issues that affect us are interconnected to the poor economic growth. Many people today in government leadership or in the private sector send their children to South Africa not only to acquire better education but also to get IDs in order to work in that country once they have finished schools.

“Why? Because our country is not good enough,” he said.


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