By Mbongeni Mbingo | 2020-08-02
Perhaps it is telling of the state of our politics that a simple election to replace a member who passed away should become such a farce, leading to the postponement of the election as well as an extended so-called vetting process.
One does not need to be a political scientist to conclude that the vetting process the police are currently undertaking has gone beyond just verifying if the individuals are law-abiding citizens of the country. For now though, one must confine himself to the facts of the matter as we know them.
It is however not coincidental that subsequent to the postponement of this election, police officers sprinted to action, if not straight to the frontrunner in this election – Sifiso Mabuza.
Since the unprecedented postponement of the election, the tongues have been wagging as to what and why the police are suddenly scrutinising everything and anything they come across.
There is therefore something to this election that is more than merely ticking a box.
This election, and what has transpired since Sifiso Mabuza particularly, amassed an incredibly overwhelming 24 votes to make this process a mere formality has once more opened the debate over the nature of politics, if not the nature of the people in our politics.
It offers a proper context of all that is wrong, and right, about our parliament, especially what is seen as an attraction for a parliamentary seat against what we are now suspecting is becoming the sanctity of a parliamentary seat.
Those of us who are purists would have raised an eyebrow or two at the choice of the young businessman who is now at the centre of the election controversy, not for his business acumen and all that must be for him to be nominated and becoming such an overwhelming favourite.
But, for the simple reason that he literally came from nowhere. Add to that is that he is the young of the two other Mabuza brothers already in Parliament then you will have adjusted your seat a couple of times to swing in it as you ponder what it must mean that he too is happy to join the political domain.
Just like his two brothers, this younger Mabuza is also known to have made his name in construction, and is, therefore, one of those self-made businessmen now becoming interested in the dirty game of politics.
Someone, when the police circled the three candidates for further scrutiny, one silently muttered is that what Mabuza is opening himself into, by accepting the nomination for a senate seat?
If he wants this life, then he should find no problem with the police checking his single hair for DNA, if that is what it calls for, because he is joining a house of honourable and knowledgeable people, where we expect nothing but integrity.
But, that also is the focus of my thoughts today; the very noble notion of integrity in Parliament, let alone Senate; the idea that people now want to jump at the first mention of the idea to becoming a member of parliament; and the sale of the parliamentary seat.
Where have these things left our politics, certainly what is the impact of all of this - especially the fact that parliamentary positions go to the highest bidder? We have been struggling with MPs buying votes in the national elections, but what happens in parliament when people pay handsomely to enter the fray should simply dismay us.
It should concern us that parliament is attracting individuals who are willing to pay whatever it takes to get in, and also that we have a house of parliamentarians who are available to be bought if the price is right.
What is noble, therefore, about such a position; such an individual, who has had to ‘bribe’ his way into parliament when perhaps on any other day he may not be fit to walk through?
We know that in 2018, money exchanged hands, and those who could pay the ticket were ushered in, many of them now proving as to what kind of politics they are bringing into the system. In total contrast, others got the short end of the stick, their gamble having backfired, while there were a few who were so disgruntled they demanded their money back.
This brings me to the point that this postponement this week raises about the state of our parliament. It is just a couple of weeks since MPs successfully moved a motion to demand amendments to a perfectly good law because they do not like the way it is being applied, or that – as it is claimed – the law is being used to target individuals.
We can read a lot into that motion and as well the previous move by a group of MPs who have formed a very strong camp to oppose the cannabis bill, just because they can.
This is politics of money and power. It is not politics of sound thinking and integrity, an application that is certainly needed in the upper chamber.
I recall that the senate used to be called the chamber of timphunga, this because the number one virtue of those honourable senators would be a good mature and sharp brain.
It is clear, therefore, that there is something about a seat in parliament being a hot ticket to something else. What that something else is we are yet to find out. Time will tell, for we all know the truth always comes out.
What we must do, however, for now is appeal to the MPs who have to cast their votes to remember that they have a privilege to sit in that position – and therefore not to misuse it for politics of the stomach. We must urge the MPs to contribute positively to the political dispensation of this country and not be persuaded by lobbyists who have their own agenda.
The postponement of this election is already an indictment to the house, that in itself a critical reflection of their own politics for had they applied themselves fully, perhaps this would be the formality it was meant to be.
Perhaps, therefore, this election is already stained and should be cancelled, because as it stands, we can already conclude that their decision is being second-guessed – and badly.
It already follows that Sifiso Mabuza’s overwhelming vote has nothing to do with his contribution to society, but rather, but rather, that he is well spoken for.
Given the extended vetting process, that can’t be good for him going forward, nor can it be good were something amiss to be used against him.
The police, it can be argued, have already applied that siSwati old adage of ‘injinga beyisola’, and that can’t be a good tag for any Senator. Whatever the outcome of this process, we should ask ourselves, what’s in it, for young Mabuza, more than we should concern ourselves with what he brings to the House. The answers lie in the state of our politics.
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