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WHAT ARE MPS AFRAID OF?

By Mbongeni Mbingo | 2018-03-25

I was appalled, perhaps even astonished, when I learned that a few of our legislators are concerned about the campaign to vote for a woman into parliament this year.

 Over the past couple of weeks, Members of Parliament are said to have been raising issue with the ‘Vote for Woman’ campaign, ignorantly ranting that this campaign was either against the spirit of the constitution, or that it was unfair, if not premature.

Terms

Apparently, the word within the parliament corridors is that this campaign is discriminatory, and gives an unfair advantage to women. It is not surprising to learn that these comments come from the male members of the legislature—clearly because we have only one woman Member of Parliament who was elected into Parliament by the public in 2013—against a total of 55 elected MPs. But, MPs still feel threatened, with one MP openly citing the recently concluded Population Censors Report 2017 to claim that there were more women than men in society!

How ridiculous. How sad. How tragic. To think that MPs have had a full term of office to appreciate the seriousness of the lack of representation of women in parliament, and yet still come up with this drivel is really disappointing.

It should explain why Parliament has failed to adhere to the constitutional requirement that four women from each region should be nominated to parliament, to ensure women participation in politics, and in parliament. For years, this is being ignored. Now we know it is not an oversight, or perhaps a lack of strategy in how this could be implemented. It is purely intentional.

Vote

There are two fundamental issues that come out of this position by MPs regarding the ‘Vote for woman’ campaign, and as well the failure to recognise the need for a greater representation and participation of women in politicians. The first is that men, if not politicians, are still threatened—or feel—by the idea of having a woman in the boardroom if not in the position of leadership, to the point that they would rather let things be. The other is that there are still, sadly, a larger population of leaders (men) who still feel the sense of entitlement to the political position.

 It is obvious that patriarchy is still an issue within our society, and the concerns coming out of parliament over the vote for woman campaign can best demonstrate just how it is deeply entrenched it will take more than a campaign to get women at the rightful place. What is deeply concerning with the concerns from MPs is that they are going against a national campaign that the head of state has already endorsed, and has been consistent in his support for the campaign, in the full appreciation that the country cannot develop at the speed it has to if women are so left behind. His Majesty is not doing this for duty, however, he is doing so in the belief in the women ability, just as these MPs are the only ones who should occupy these powerful positions.

Advantage

 It is to me a concern, therefore, that among parliament corridors are men who still think that men are a minority in society and, therefore, they should be left to continue making the mess that MPs are making. The other disappointment is that their comments affirm the position that politics are not for women, and as such they find it proper to raise these things in official forums. It is disgraceful how a member of parliament finds it proper to suggest that this campaign will give women advantage—over who, exactly? And if so, why not? In fact, isn’t that the point—that we are as a country are trying to get more women into parliament? If not this campaign, how else do these politicians think we would encourage the public to vote for women? 

I thought, therefore, that these comments by MPs were scandalous, and were we a serious country, we would have perhaps launched a campaign to not vote for those MPs whose views are that the campaign works against men. For, if we do, we are taking our country backwards, and such views as raised by these MPs cannot be those of legislators.

If MPs are seeking to protect their positions in Parliament, then they have had the full term to do so—where their work speaks for itself.  But these comments show exactly why they are sitting at the edge of their seats—they are not worthy!

The sooner we rid ourselves of such men in our parliament, the better then for our society.  Largely, this position by MPs—and anyone who dares think this way—are evidence that our MPs are not at the level they should be. They demonstrate that we are a long way from getting quality political leadership, and for the time being, we will be blessed with those who only want to play marbles and walk around chest puffed after that game because they knocked around a few.

 Woza 50/50

 

In just under a month, we will be throwing the mother of all parties—and rightly so.

 It is our 50 years of independence, and also His Majesty turns 50.

 It is inevitable that this country would want to celebrate such milestones and as such we have to accept that no matter our fiscal situation, this was going to happen.

The point, however, is how big a celebration, given the fiscal position, as well as the wider view that we cannot afford to throw such parties at this point.

There is justification on both sides of the argument; for instance, if we decided as a country against hosting a big shebang it would send a very good political message worldwide. And, well, obviously, as a country we owe it to ourselves to celebrate this kind of milestone.

But, does this mean all the extravagance we are about to witness; the new cars; the uncontrollable expenditure; and the looting that is taking place already? We all know that long before this event takes place, there are people who have already secured the bidding for the tenders and most of the money isn’t going to be spent on where it should.

Besides all the looting that we are about to experience, the other question is how to make such an event meaningful, so as to retain its value for all Swazis. Would it not make sense to spend on lectures on our history, how far we have come, where we come from and what it means to achieve what we have achieved?

This is something that has been on my mind of late, the question of how to maximise on the little that we have, so as to avoid the negative profiling that always seems to challenge the sovereignty of the Swazi people.

I often find that the country’s profile would achieve so much if it paid attention to these kinds of issues; such as how to manage a big celebration such as our 50/50. This country has so much going for it; so much positivity, so much beauty.

There is so much we could achieve if we focused on the little things that always taint the image of the King and country.

I always look enviously at other countries that have changed their approach to things; Rwanda’s fascinating story as Africa’s cleanest does a lot for its image, for instance. Yet, we have a lot to offer the world; we have an amazing culture they cannot take away, and we love our Monarchy.

We also have a strong unity, that if we focused on managing our economy we would be the envy of the world.

What party we throw next month is so important to the story of Swaziland, and it is for that reason that one would care about how big we go. Alternatively, I wish that His Majesty would benefit from the kind of creativity that is out there, because it is true that we have such a growing young and innovative mind that’s waiting to showcase its thinking. If only it would be asked, instead of employing the tried and tested that our people have been accustomed to for the past 50 years.

As it is, we can all expect the usual national celebration already; the same usual decoration and the same normal choreography—all things that show a lack of creativity.

Yet, we know; the party is about to begin.

The money is about to, if not already, find its way to corruption, and sheer extravagance is about to be displayed.

 This is such a shame, for this country deserves much better than this.

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