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MBABANE - The elections have come with good news for public transport operators, as they are set to share over 1.6 million for providing transport services during the 2023 General Elections nominations stage.

This is because a total of 429 kombis and 47 privately-owned buses have been allocated for the nominations this weekend. It is yet to be determined if they will continue providing transport throughout the elections period, as negotiations have not been concluded, according to some of the public transport operators.

Each hired Toyota Quantum, according to the Mbabane Kombis Association Chairperson Thomas Mkhwanazi, would be paid E1 700 per day for the two days of nominations. Independent calculations by this publication suggest that if all the 476 public transport work for the duration of the nominations phase,  they will share slightly over E1.6 million. The public transport will be used to ferry officers who will be working during the nominations, as well as some of the electorate.


Chairperson of the Swaziland Buses Association Duma Msibi, revealed that 47 buses had been set aside for the nominations, and each constituency was allocated one bus. Msibi said government buses would be added in the remaining constituency centres. There are 59 constituency centres in the kingdom. When queried on how much they charged per bus, Msibi did not divulge. However, he alluded to that it was an agreement between bus owners and government, which could not be disclosed. He noted that it was a standard charge. The chairperson of the buses association was further queried if government had settled payments, and that if not, were they confident that it would, given challenges in the past, where government failed to pay service providers on time.


In response, Msibi said he was confident that government had already prepared for the payment, since it (government) allocated a budget to the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), the entity responsible for the smooth running of the elections, which was already working with the budget and giving tenders. In any case, if they were not paid accordingly, Msibi said they would accept what would be given to them.  On the question of fuel, the chairperson said usually, bus owners were the ones who requested government to provide fuel. However, he said this time around, they did not, which meant that they would cater for their own fuel since the nominations exercise would not take many days.

Meanwhile, Swaziland Local Transport Association (SLTA) Chairperson Magesi Dlamini confirmed that 429 kombis were allocated for the nominations, adding that everything was ready and in apple pie order. Magesi said he did not foresee any challenges as they worked seamlessly with government during negotiations.  A breakdown of the allocations of the public transport vehicles shows that 57 have been allocated for Mbabane and 27 for Buhleni. The EBC hired 35 Quantums from the Pigg’s Peak Bus Rank. Pigg’s Peak Bus Rank Manager Prince Dlamini said the public transport vehicles would ferry citizens who would be nominating candidates from northern Hhohho.


In the Lubombo Region, 44 public transport kombis have been hired to transport the electorate in the 11 constituencies, during the two-day nominations exercise, starting tomorrow. According to Lubombo Local Kombi Association Executive member, Stocky Simelane, the commission requested four kombis for each constituency, from the two existing transport associations in the region. The 11 constituencies comprise of Matsanjeni North, Lugongolweni, Nkilongo, Lubulini, Mpolonjeni, Mhlume, Lomahasha, Dvokodvweni, Sithobela, Gilgal and Siphofaneni. Simelane said the other association that would benefit from this exercise is the Lubombo Mini-bus and Kombi Association.

The public transport owner thanked the commission for not hiring public transport from outside the country, but resorting to empowering the local businesspeople during the general elections. He further thanked EBC for involving them in the whole process of the elections, unlike in other previous elections. Simelane added that each kombi would be paid E1 700 per day, according to a correspondence they have received from the commission. “On behalf of the public transport owners, I would like to extend our gratitude to the EBC for acknowledging that we exist in the transport sector by involving us in this exercise. We are grateful to be involved in the elections process as we also pay tax as emaSwati and we should be recognised and appreciated for doing so,” he said.

Moreover, the businessman said the EBC had also assured the public transport owners that the fleet of their kombis would increase in the primary and secondary elections, due to that the figures of the polling staff would also increase. He mentioned that they had also been informed that they would have to provide 12 kombis per constituency during the primary and secondary elections. The businessman appreciated the kind gesture of being offered the business to transport the polling staff, stating that it was fundamental in cushioning their coffers, post the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We appreciate that now government, through the EBC, is recognising and prioritising businesses of emaSwati. We also thank the commission for that and appeal to government to continue engaging and hiring us in future national activities,” Simelane said. Worth mentioning is that government hired three buses during the recently held Sibaya at Ludzidzini Royal Cattle Byre, with over 150 residents boarding them from communities around the region.


In the Shiselweni Region, 110 kombis will be used by the EBC for the nominations exercise. The kombis were yesterday inspected by the Shiselweni Local Kombi Association personnel, to ascertain if they were fit to be used for the exercise. It was gathered from Shiselweni Local Kombi Association Chairperson, Thabani Nhleko, that the owners were told to apply, and that they were only inspecting kombis that had applied. It was also gathered from Nhleko that each vehicle would be paid E1 700 a day. He stated that they were inspecting tyres, if they were still in good condition, windscreens, window glasses and brakes, among other things. This, he said, was meant to minimisse accidents.

Nhleko further said they were also checking permits and service of the vehicles. “Those that qualified were given the necessary documents and instructed where to park,” added Nhleko.  It was gathered that the kombis will be parked at His Majesty’s Correctional Services in Nhlangano.  By 5pm yesterday, there were still kombis that were being inspected. It was noted that others were disqualified because they had missing windows, which were replaced with masking tapes.  

EBC Communications Officer Mbonisi Bhembe said they wanted to be a professional entity, hence they would not want to reveal much information regarding their agreement with the public transport operators. NB: Additional reporting by Thokozani Mamba, Melisa Msweli and Themba Zwane