Times of Swaziland
24 September 2008
New MPs on the block won’t change anything
By Vusi Sibisi
The people overwhelmingly voted for change in last Friday’s secondary legislative elections by rejecting the old guard in favour of new faces while the vote for a woman campaign collapsed catastrophically.
As I see it and judging by the electorate’s rejection of the majority of former lawmakers at the polls, the people are crying out for change in the manner they are governed. But can the newly elected legislators bring about the desired changes, is the gnawing question that should have all of us concerned with the worsening state of this the Kingdom of Eswatini.
While the recent poll was an epoch-making event in view of the fact that it was for the first time that the country held elections under a constitutional dispensa-tion since the state of emergency brought about by the King’s Proclamation to the Nation of April 12, 1973, not much has changed in the nation’s body politics. And true to the French saying, "the more things change the more they remain the same".
As I see it that the majority of the incoming members of the 9th Parliament of the Kingdom of Eswatini are new faces does not necessarily herald a new political philosophy or for that matter a paradigm shift in the manner this country has been governed since 1973.
The people will be disappointed that the new crop of legislators will also become rubber stamps of the executive arm of government primarily because nothing has changed in the manner the government of the day is formed.
The new constitution’s failure to transfer power to the people still means that it is the ruling class that appoints the government of the day. And by progression, this means it still holds that the government in power is still responsible and answerable to the ruling elite and not the people. Eventually the people would be disappointed to know that whatever changes they desired that had in turn influenced their choices, the legislature would remain under the thumb of the ruling class and impotent to transform the political fortunes of this seemingly God forsaken nation.
That, of course, is even assuming that the new crop of legislators are inspired by the challenges facing this nation other than hunger pangs and economic hardships that have made it impossible for the average Swazi to make ends meet. And as I see it, these elections had everything to do with the economic circumstances of individuals and little or nothing to do with national priorities, least of all by the zeal to transform the Swazi polity. And for the sake of this nation I do hope I am wrong in arriving at this conclusion.
In the event I am wrong, then the challenge to the incoming lawmakers is to convert the citizens from being stowaways into passengers in their spaceship the Kingdom of Eswatini in order to take full control of their and the country’s destiny.
And that can only be achieved by amending the constitution to empower the people to be responsible for forming a government of choice that not only comes from them but also is accountable and responsible to the people.
As I see it that is the only hope that we are left with to salvage this country from the ruins the ruling elite is hell bent in plunging it as attested to by the reckless spending that has become a daily feature when this country is faced with a multitude of socio-economic problems that are underscored by abject poverty, wide scale unemployment, HIV/AIDS pandemic, growing army of orphaned and vulnerable children (OVCs), non-functional health delivery system, dysfunctional education system and a prolonged drought.
As for the vote for a woman campaign, it was an idea whose time had not come judging by the dismal performance of aspirant female lawmakers.
Yet the recent population census tells us that the fairer sex by far outnumber us males. So one would have expected the women to work with and support each other and to be in the majority in Parliament. Evidently this is not so otherwise they would not have fared as worse as they did.
As I see it the whole idea was premature in relation to the monumental challenges facing this country. At this critical phase of this country’s history, we cannot afford to focus on gender equity but to concentrate in getting the best brains to extricate this country from the abyss it has been plunged into by the ruling class. It was the wrong time to even think about equity when nothing is equitable about this country. Yes, if the best man for the job is a woman then so be it, women must take the lead but not out of sympathy that they have been subjugated for this long but because they deserve it. Tokenism won’t take this country anywhere but backward.
As I see it what this country needs right now are courageous men and women with an affinity to the truth and nothing else but the truth.
We all know that this country is built and perpetuated on lies. And unless we liberate this nation from these lies that have become a sub-culture, there is no way this country can move forward and there is also no way the ruling class could stop taking the sort of criminal decisions that have become the order of the day. Women must occupy leadership positions because they deserve them and not out of pity!