Times of Swaziland
1 October 2008
Elections driven by stomach politics
By Vusi Sibisi
A coterie of grovellers, knee-bending sycophants and blind loyalists of the obtaining political hegemony are apt to criticise multi-party democracy as divisive and, therefore, not suited for a homogeneous society like the Kingdom of Eswatini.
As I see it, these supporters and loyalists would rather sing or manufacture non-existent virtues of the oppressive Tinkhundla Political System.
Yet when it comes to the nitty-gritty nothing could be further from the truth as mirrored by the recent legislative elections.
What is emerging from the recent legislative elections is the blinding clarity that the Tinkhundla is neither a political ideology nor a political vehicle through which to spur the political transformation and development of the country but a feedlot for those who excel in the art of praise singing and grovelling.
The new children on the block in the form of elected lawmakers have taken this much further by making the entire exercise one of poverty alleviation at a personal and not at national level.
For as I see it the desperation to get to Parliament is no more driven by a political desire to transform the Swazi polity by enacting laws that would be conducive to speeding the economic development of this country than to get out of the vicious cycle of abject poverty visiting the majority of Swazis even if it is just for five years, which is the term of office of the lawmakers.
That is what emerged when I lobotomised the legislative elections. Is it any wonder a good many cases ended up in court?
As I see it, the face of poverty manifested itself either way - in respect of the contesting candidates as well as the electorate. For the majority of the contesting candidates it did not matter much that they displayed a shocking display of intellectual and political malnutrition when it came to real issues that should be the bread and butter issues of a Parliament but were content on shelling out largesse, including financial payments, to buy the votes of the electorate.
And driven by hunger and poverty, the voters were predictable. They voted for those who paid, fed and promised to extricate them from the vicious cycle of poverty that has been bequeathed them by a largely corrupt political system once they are in Parliament. Which brings me to the question if the Tinkhundla political system can compete with the worst system elsewhere because there can be no worse system than this system.
As I see it, those grovellers, knee-bending sycophants and blind loyalists given to damning multi-party democracy even without any empirical evidence that it is the worst form of democracy, do so to ingratiate themselves to the ruling class.
After all, there are still many vacancies that need to be filled in government starting from the legislature itself up to Cabinet level.
So everyone of the soulless unprincipled and spineless individuals given to praise-singing and grovelling are positioning themselves to be easily visible to government so that they are considered for the vacant positions. Invariably this is irrespective of whether they have the skills, experience and most of all requisite qualifications for the positions they aspire to be appointed into.
After all in Tinkhundla territory if a donkey comes begging for a position it would certainly get it only if it has mastered the art of praise singing, grovelling and occasionally lying about some people.
Marwick you’re made for the task
I have grown to respect veteran lawmaker Marwick Thandukukhanya Khumalo as a matured and astute politician. He has in the recent past surprised many when he openly declared that Tinkhundla had failed and now was the time the country considered taking a new political path without as much as saying in as many words.
He capped his growing stature as head of the African Union Pan African Parliament observer mission during Zimbabwe’s general elections at the end of March.
While the Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer mission prematurely declared those elections free and fair, Marwick and his team were much more objective in their assessment and pronounced them to having not been free and fair, especially after it took a whole month to release results for the presidential elections. By breaking ranks, Marwick departed from the African tradition of hiding the truth behind a façade of unity.
As I see it, Marwick represents a new political breed, a generation that was going to transform Africa and just take it by the scruff of the neck and boot her into the 21st century, as Wole Soyinka rightly articulated, on whose shoulders we can safely entrust the future of this country. But to achieve such a milestone needed a million Marwicks to do this on a continental scale.
As I see it, we need about 30 or so Marwicks in the legislature of this the Kingdom of Eswatini to start the political transformation that he and similarly minded individuals would want to see happen here in order to extricate this country from the many man-made disasters it is in.
This is a challenge to Marwick as an old horse in Parliament to lead from both the front and the back to achieve this most desired political transformation to get this country out of the current rot.
The bones will speak on next PM
The Swazi News, the sister newspaper to this one, last Saturday threw down the gauntlet to anyone who cared to help His Majesty King Mswati III to appoint the new Prime Minister and Cabinet of ministers.
As I see it, that might be a little bit premature. This I have surmised from the fact that we are still awaiting the king to first appoint 10 lawmakers to the House of Assembly and 20 to Senate. Then perhaps can we knuckle down to the job of selecting who is who for whatever position?
Adding to this dilemma, as I see it of course, is the fact that only after the lawmakers have been appointed can we get down to the onerous task of consulting the bones on who should occupy the position of the PM first and foremost.
And it is not an easy task considering that often there are five names in the hat contesting for the position, four of which need to be eliminated from the race by day-break.
And this can take the whole night for the bone throwers to accomplish. Perhaps the Swazi News Editor will extend the time period during which we, the public, can assist in the appointment of the PM and make-up of the Cabinet. After all the PM consults with the king on the composition of the Cabinet.
In the meantime, yours truly can be gathering the best bone throwers for the night of the bones when the new PM would be selected.