By David Dlamini | 2020-08-02
Political developments this past week demand special attention of all patriots who desire the long-deferred dream for a prosperous Eswatini. Two events that occurred this past week deserve attention and analysis, first the allegations of bribery, made by a no lesser person, than the former Senate deputy President Ngomauyayona Song Gamendze.
Secondly, it’s the attempt by the House of Assembly to suspend the Proceeds of Crime legislation.
There is an ominous thread connecting these two events, that we need not ignore lest the impunity of corruption will overwhelm us all.
The thread connecting the two events is the glaring corrupt conduct of elected officials, and the leveraging of their political power to paralyse legal processes and structures meant to safeguard public interests. Abuse of political power has no bigger examples than these two events, the question is how did we get here?
Ngoma`s allegations of bribery demands by mPs
The veracity of the allegation/s; We need to concede that, as the public, we have been too inept on this issue, we know that these allegations are not entirely new, a lone voice of an aspiring lady politician was ignored early in the current term of the government. The lady alleged that she had actually been persuaded to pay a substantial amount of money to secure election/selection by members of the House of Assembly.
She lamented that despite the fact that she actually paid this money she still could not secure the selection/election by the benefitting members of the House.
We can only conclude that she actually lost to more lucrative bidders. She was, most importantly, ignored by all the persons and structures that should have taken more than a pedestrian interest on the matter. We remember the lipo-service response of the House speaker and state agencies tasked with fighting crime and corruption.
Had all the relevant structures responded appropriately to the lady’s allegations over two years ago, we probably would not be talking about the same matter today – failure to hold politicians accountable foments an incremental corruption culture.
The former Senate Deputy President’s allegations carry a lot of weight, purely, if for nothing else, because of his experience of the institution of Parliament; he’s even a more credible witness given these two facts;
1. The former Senator was elected/selected to the Senate through the same process previously; we don’t know if his previous election/selection was entirely clean, we have to believe that his public disgust with the bribery demand is sincere.
2. Secondly, one of the members of the august house is actually a former employee of a company directed by the former Senator, that affords the former Senate Deputy President a credible insider perspective that can rarely be incorrect.
We need to worry, as conservatives, that the increasing narrative of an uncaring and greedy political leadership culture, that we are often accused of, is gaining traction in society. Of course, the allegations are naturally accumulative, and must be understood in their proper context. We remember how allegations of voter buying/bribing of voters, were levelled at individuals who are now sitting comfortable in the House of Assembly. These serious allegations only solicited a subdued response from the Elections Commission, yet another case of failure of state structures to act on glaring cases of criminality. The fact of the matter is that when state agencies falter in their constitutional role to combat corruption and hold politicians accountable, such individuals are emboldened.
We are confronted by an individualistic political culture, where political office is merely a means of individuals to enhance their financial position; aspiring politicians are rarely acquainted with strategic national interests, and in all honesty we can’t blame them.
The state of affairs is as a result of the void left by the collapse of political organs, like the erstwhile Central Committee, which is understood to have been the seat for political and socioeconomic thought.
We currently have members of parliament and a cabinet, that have very little orientation of national developmental issues, serve for compliance-driven polices piloted by government executives. The strenuous argument made by the Minister of Finance, on the issue of the proceeds of crime legislation, is very illustrative – the thrust of the minister`s argument was, again, COMPLIANCE with international protocols.
The allegations made by the former Senator, must be promptly investigated and appropriate remedial measures taken. We dare not fail again to make a strong statement against corruption, the structures and legislation required to arrest this decay are there.
The already established failure to combat corruption, we know clearly, is not as a result of poor policies or lack of appropriate structures, no, it’s a political will issue, a personnel issue; personnel issues can be resolved far quicker than policy and/or structural issues.
In closing, we do need to indicate that this same cancer of voter-buying/bribery is not exclusive to conservative government/s. The charismatic Dr Ramphela Ramphela of South Africa, bemoaned the fact that her efforts and other South African patriots to provide a meaningful alternative to the ruling party, were thwarted by voter-buying shenanigans by the ruling party.
Voters, she alleged, were given cash and food hampers. We have also heard of allegations of voter buying even in the elective conferences of the ANC progressive alliance.
The House of Assembly attempt to suspend the Proceeds of Crime legislation
The attempt by the house would remain one of the most rogue efforts in history for legislators to try to ensure a toothless corruption legislative framework, cosmetic legislation that dupes stakeholders about the commitment of politicians to fight corruption. It was really intriguing to see how a flimsy motion, that was poorly motivated/argued by the mover somehow managed to win the support of the majority of the house.
But most importantly, its important to understand what the motion sought to achieve, essentially to demarcate certain proceeds of corruption as exempted from being forfeited.
It must be understood that this piece of legislation has been in the pipeline for a very longtime, and clearly it only got to be expedited now because of pressure from international partners.
This legislation has too many enemies, and the House`s efforts to emasculate it is indicative of the number of influential people who would stop at nothing at undermining our efforts to strengthen our governance imperatives.
Third world leaders/countries have very little to show for their commitment to economic development and poverty alleviation outside a demonstrable anti-corruption stance. The prompt response by the Prime Minister is highly commendable, and the consultative approach he demonstrated was really disarming to all distractors; the response succeeded, most importantly, at showing a united front in the fight against corruption.
As much as we need take cognisance of the fact that our political culture is still very much rudimentary, people rarely vote on issues, because of educational issues and poverty, still we can`t lower the bar on the corruption issue.
The forfeiture of proceeds of crime to the state by perpetrators of crime/corruption, remains the strongest deterrent to would be offenders. The argument has already been made that those who plunder public coffers are actually stealing from the poor, the forfeiture of proceeds of crime to the state therefore represents the best recompense to the poor and the tax payer.
The house would need to clear its name, from the floor, about what exactly motivated this motion, and if indeed they are worthy of the trust of the populace.
The fact that their efforts were overturned by the Prime Minister shouldn`t let the house/members go scot free, the mover of the motion deserves special attention, he probably could help most of us understand what exactly prompted him to move this motion; his constituency would be happy to hear how their member of parliament views corruption.
There has to be serious political consequences to these kinds of political shenanigans, that`s the whole point of democracy – that elected officials would be held accountable for their actions.
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