Wednesday 2024-06-19




By BONGIWE DLAMINI | 2023-09-19

The ministry of Tinkhundla Administration and Development has said politicians who fail to report back to electorate, can be recalled.

This was reaffirmed by Dumisani Sithole, the Director of Decentralisation Department, during a workshop for traditional authorities on the Social Accountability Initiative (SAI) that has been introduced by the ministry.

The SAI is a tool meant to hold not only politicians; including members of Parliament, bucopho and Indvuna yenkhundla, but all public officers in charge of the delivery of public services, accountable for public resources.

The initiative was launched on August 16 and the sensitisation workshops for traditional authorities commenced in the Shiselweni Region last week.

Sithole was responding to questions from chiefs and other traditional authorities on what would happen to politicians, who failed to deliver on their mandate.

He said the ministry came with this initiative after an outcry by stakeholders and citizens that there was no platform for political engagement between the people and their local politicians.

Also, these stakeholders complained that politicians did not have a reporting back arrangement to the electorate once elected, hence some of them disappeared for the duration of their term, only to resurface when they needed to be re-elected into office.  

This was said to result in poor service delivery, which in turn led to a poor government image.
Therefore, government introduced the initiative whereby the elected politicians’ promises and consolidated citizens’ desires would be combined to make up an overall citizens mandate, which the politicians such as Members of Parliament (MPs) would take to Parliament.

The elected politicians would be expected to continuously report back to the electorate every three months.

This way, government hopes to create vibrant constituencies for responsive, transparent and accountable local governance.

Sithole said the initiative currently has no provisions of how such public office bearers would be punished if they fail to exercise accountability and transparency.

Also, he mentioned that the ministry expects all public office bearers to be accountable and transparent to the people they serve as per the provision of Section 239 of the Constitution of Eswatini of 2005, which speaks about the leadership code.

Section 239 (a) of the Constitution states that, “The Leadership Code of Conduct seeks to ensure that those in leadership, whether elective or appointive, are transparent in their activities and accountable to the people they represent or serve.”

Parts (c), (d) and (e) add that the leadership code of conduct seeks to ensure that those in leadership adhere to the principles of service for the common good, do not abuse office, and do not engage in conduct that is likely to lead to corruption in public affairs.

In this regard, Sithole said in the event a public office bearer failed to adhere to this code of conduct, Section 242 of the same Constitution could be effected by the relevant parties.

Section 242 (1) of the Constitution provides that, “An officer who contravenes the Code may, after due process of law, be dismissed or removed from office by reasons of such breach or abuse and may be disqualified from holding any public office either generally or for a specified period.”

Explaining this part, Sithole said if the electorate note that the person they elected has failed them, they have the right to have him/her suspended or removed from office. In this regard, the director emphasised that this may be done after due process of law.

Elections and Boundaries Commission Chairman, Mhlabuhlangene Dlamini, in April stated that there was a need for the country’s political system to allow voters the power to recall their underperforming representatives from Parliament.

The EBC chairperson noted that it was a weakness that under the country’s election system, there was no available controlled and balanced mechanism, by which voters were able to hold their elected politicians accountable.

He said the filling of this gap was among the reform measures for the Tinkhundla political system urgently required for its efficiency and utility and that this may include the power to recall, in a non-abusive and controlled method, not made too easy to exploit for abuse.

However, the 11th Parliament was strongly opposed to the EBC chairperson’s statement and questioned what would happen to appointed legislators.   

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