Times of Swaziland
1 October 2008
MPs who bought votes in trouble
By WELCOME DLAMINI
MBABANE – Some of the newly-elected Members of Parliament could face arrest and disqualification from the august house for allegedly buying votes or bribery.
These also include Senators who would be found to have paid money to some of the MPs as they ‘lobby’ their way into Senate.
Chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Chief Gija Dlamini said the country could not afford to have parliament made up of corrupt individuals.
The team of 55 MPs is also under spotlight from the EBC in the wake of bribery allegations mostly from contestants who lost the election.
Some losers have accused the new team of MPs of unduly influencing voters by offering them bribes in a bid to secure more votes.
Chief Gija said the MPs should know that buying votes was a form of bribery that needed to be seriously dealt with.
Some of the newly-elected MPs are said to have offered voters a lot of alcoholic drinks, money, cabbages and bread amongst other things, to win the electorate’s support.
These allegations have already reached the office of the EBC while some are still pending before court.
"As a Swazi I know that bribery is not the right thing to do and I guess every other Swazi knows that for a fact thus there is a need to bring it to a stop," Chief Gija said.
As if that is not enough, already the EBC is in the process of investigating the present team of MPs to ascertain whether anyone amongst them has accepted any form of bribe from aspiring senators.
Aspiring senators are reportedly dangling between E15 000 and E20 000 to the new MPs in a bid to have their names raised in the House of Assembly and be voted into Senate.
Some of the new MPs are reportedly having sleepless nights as they are troubled by the Senate hopefuls who call during the middle of the night with the mouth-watering offers.
"I hope and pray that these allegations are not true because if they are found to be real then we are going to arrest those implicated and then ask that they be disqualified from being legislators," Chief Gija said. Gija said a person who was found to have accepted a bribe was as guilty as the person paying the bribe. The EBC chairman mentioned that anyone who had information regarding the alleged bribery should not hesitate to come forward and share it with the EBC officials so that action could be taken against those who are implicated.
"We want to clean this country of corrupt individuals so that we could have a parliament that we would be proud to call honourable, instead of dishonest legislators," Chief Gija stated.
Gija noted that those people who were dangling bribes were clear cases of individuals who wanted to enter parliament through the back door.
"Those who are paying or accepting the bribes evidently do not qualify to be part of parliament so they must be identified and sent home," Chief Gija said.
Chief Gija said if nothing was done to these people then the country is going to have a parliament full of robbers, murderers and thieves.
Chief Gija said they were even contemplating involving the police to help them in investigating the bribery allegations.