Friday 2019-03-22

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‘YOU’RE EITHER A SOLDIER OR COUNCILLOR’

By Sifiso Nhlabatsi | 2019-01-11

THE Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) has given Matsapha Ward 2 Councillor Mfanufikile Dlamini a seven day ultimatum to decide whether he works for the Matsapha Town Council or continues to be a member of the UEDF.

This is because, according to the army policies, one cannot hold two jobs, serving the army and working outside the army organisation. The army made it clear that such was strictly prohibited.

This also comes after an outcry by residents of Ward 2 that the councilor was failing to execute his duties as he is away most of the time, caught up on other duties. Even Matsapha Mayor Sandlane Zwane wants the soldier, Councillor Dlamini, to hand in a resignation letter relieving him of council duties.

The mayor’s argument is that he received general orders from the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) Commander Sobantu Dlamini that Dlamini was supposed to hand in a letter from the army which allows him to participate in politics. Dlamini is being accused of having conducted an offence on his standing as army personnel.

Dlamini involved himself in politics, which is something that has been viewed as inappropriate. The mayor’s findings were that as his portfolio reports to the Head of State, Councillor Dlamini cannot be actively involved in politics and can also not report to the mayor.

The report further states that residents in the ward Councilor Dlamini was elected have written a letter,  complaining that he is no longer representing them as he  disappeared from Ward 2. They stated that he had promised the people that he would resign, which he never did.

Report

The report states that the mayor wondered where Councillor Dlamini got the mandate to move a certain motion against the mayor, as he is no longer involved with his constituency.

The mayor then implored that Councillor Dlamini should do the right thing and resign.

The mayor is said to have reminded Dlamini that he was expecting a response from him, as he had written to him on why he should not be relieved of council duties based on the letter from the residents from Ward2.

 In supporting his argument, the mayor is alleged to have used the example of the minister of housing and Urban Development, Prince Simelane and stated that the minister handed in his uniform immediately after he was appointed by His Majesty King Mswati III into Parliament. Information gathered is that Dlamini was summoned by Army Commander Dlamini yesterday, where he was told to make the hard choice of choosing between the army and the town council post.

UEDF Public Relations Officer Lieutenant Tengetile Khumalo said as UEDF they acknowledged that Private Mfanufikile Dlamini, who is a councillor in one of the towns, is indeed a member of the army. She said indeed the matter had generated a lot of interest and curiosity on the eligibility of soldiers to participate in nation-building processes.

Lt Khumalo said the position of the UEDF on the matter was that as per the Standing Orders of the defence force, a soldier, like all civil servants, cannot hold two positions simultaneously, which is why civil servants who are parliamentarians and those holding public offices have to take a leave of absence of five years.

Posts

Thereafter, they may return to their posts after the period has elapsed. Lieutenant Khumalo said in a quest to put the matter to rest, the Defence Headquarter summoned Private Dlamini, who is also a councillor, to discuss and engage him on the matter.  She said both parties reached a consensus that he should be accorded sufficient time, until next week, so that he may contemplate adequately and exercise his discretion, whether he chooses to part ways with the defence force to join the municipality or remain with UEDF.

The laws prohibit individuals to hold two positions at the same time. “A soldier is a soldier 24/7, hence it is near impossible to serve several employers objectively without conflict of interest,” Lt Khumalo stated. She further pointed out that it was not the wish of the defence force to discuss such sensitive matters in the public domain.

The public relations officer said due to the manner the issue was handled from the outset, it had impelled UEDF to do so.

The battle between councillors and the mayor at Matsapha Town Council has reached a level whereby members of Royal Eswatini Police Service have been roped in, as this has resulted into death threats being issued against a member of the council. Meanwhile, earlier on the ministry of housing and urban development reported that it was keeping close watch on what is happening at the council and will take proper action once the time is right.

The matter is now before court and the parties involved are mum about it.

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