Saturday 2018-01-20

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SES’KHONA

By Alec Lushaba | 2018-01-13

We may have been calling for it - the year 2018 is now upon us. Now what?

Firstly, we need to thank God Almighty that by His grace we are into the New Year. As what happens in 2018 depends on each individual’s goals and objectives.

But I am not about individuals here, I am about Swaziland. What does 2018 have for Swaziland?

From where I stand, three major events are going to define the year for me; these are the economy, 50/50 Golden Jubilee and the elections.

The two, 50/50 and elections largely depend on a sound economy for them to be said to have been a success.

It is therefore concerning that we have entered 2018 with a rolling strike by the Swaziland Revenue Authority (SRA) employees, who are charged with the responsibility of collecting taxes.

The collection of taxes makes any government to be in a sound position to deliver services without any worries of resources being in short supply.

As a collective, we cannot afford to be indifferent about the economy’s health. If there are elements that threaten the country’s economic standing, no effort must be spared to get to the bottom of whatever issue before us.

Strikes are not a not new phenomenal and we have been through worst situations before hence it is inconceivable that in this day and age we can allow such a situation to go on for too long.

The parties on the table must find a quick solution; our ailing economy does not need a prolonged strike action.

Waiting for each party to blink first is a risk we cannot afford to take, lest we have a difficult year.

When talking about this issue, I am not confining myself to the SRA employees strike alone, but many others that are threatened and being mooted.

Government must ask itself some critical questions, why this time are we being threatened with strikes within the public institutions?

Before, it has been the usual suspects teachers, nurses and public servants within the public sector that have engaged in strikes that seemed to cripple the social discourse.

Strikes within State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), who in the main are key actors in the country’s economic well being, have not been a common thing and it should therefore worry the state, why this time?

These threats undermine the good news of regaining of AGOA.

Our re-admission should give us the drive to go all out to entice both local and foreign investors to plough  their money into the economy.

This will include eliminating all potential barriers to foreign investment, including speeding up the law that establishes the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), which are not necessary a unique thing to Swaziland, hence we need to move fast and roll-out them out. 

50/50

Also, without money we cannot have a successful Golden Jubilee (50/50) celebration. Any celebration demands a healthy budget, which at the same time cannot compromise existing government programmes.

Whilst we appreciated the creation of a fund-raising committee for the double celebrations, it must be borne in mind that its success depends on companies and private citizens having enough to throw into the celebrations kitty.

If our companies are going to be in the same position where government is unable to pay for services rendered, with current outstanding bill running into billions of Emalangeni, it will be difficult for them to come to the party, hence we need a financially sound government to deliver these celebrations.

I heard that in times of crisis in some states, there are war rooms, where task teams (special committees) are put in place to solve the imminent danger to the well being of the state.

I have not heard much of the same in our context, but slogans like ‘business unusual’, yet it has been business as Usual, hence it is important that as we begin 2018 we are clear on how we deliver these major events and ensure that they are successful.

Elections

With regards to the last major event, the elections later this year, it too needs a budget in order for a credible, free and fair election.

Chief Gija and his Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) team will deliver the event, but what worries me most is the process leading to the event.

Phrases like ‘organisational renewal’ are not just nice slogans synonymous with an election year, they are real statements that talk to the real issues that impacted negatively on the well-being of a particular structure.

I would have wanted the same as we begin 2018, where the stalwarts of the Tinkhundla System would do an introspection; ask themselves difficult questions on how to position themselves going to the election later this year and whether the calibre of people will take us to the promised land – Year 2022.

From where I am standing, I see ourselves being too optimistic people and always hope that any change will be for the better.

I think time has come where we need to define the kind of change we need. If we hope, we run the risk that much of our targets are not met, because we will have people who don’t fit into the system – square pegs in round holes.

We don’t have to wait until September to see whether the calibre of people in serious leadership positions are fit and proper or not.

If we still have tilomo these matters should be concerning them and come up with ideas on how to positively influence the outcome of the elections. In multi-democracy language they call it lobbying and it is a permitted practice.

Allowing those with money to buy their votes into Parliament has not given us the people we desire hence certain benchmarks now need to be put in place where candidates pass certain standards.

I am aware of the principle of free and fair, but that should not compromise or undermine the issue of setting basic standards that each candidate must possess.

I am aware that a number of chiefs are not happy with the current system which does not recognise their input into the election process.

Whilst chiefs must not be allowed to dictate to the electorate who to vote for,  those voted for should be familiar for instance with the tenets of the Tinkhundla System and have a clear understanding of the duality of the Swazi system of governance.

These issues need some Thinks-Tanks to ponder upon. We need to make the King and Ingwenyama’s work much easier.

This time around we must get it right. The wasted 10 years must not be repeated where we saw the three arms of government working against each other.

Much of their differences were based on egos than ideological differences. The other element that contributed to it is that those who were in leadership positions were not accountable to anyone and saw themselves equal before the  Ingwenyama.

Maybe it is time we have tilomo or a council of the Tinkhundla stalwarts to call them to order once such things start to affect their work.

A council of stalwarts can be a combination of some members of the advisory councils and trustees.   

Ses’khona!!

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