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LOBAMBA - MPs have taken serious exception to the voters roll for the General Election, saying names of hundreds of people who registered were omitted.

The Members of Parliament (MPs) instructed the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Pholile Shakantu, to start the registration process afresh and issue voter registration cards, which would inspire confidence in the electorate. The legislators feared that the voters roll was manipulated to stop some people from winning the elections. They also said the error would decimate the total number of voters and put the credibility of the election process at stake.

Most of the legislators also said it was costly for the electorate to board buses all the way to verify their registration status in the voters roll.
The MPs said this after hearing an update on the electoral process from Minister Shakantu. The minister had assured them that the validation process was ongoing, and that errors noted were being rectified accordingly. She had also informed the MPs that the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) was committed in delivering an efficient election this year.


To this, MP Robert Magongo punched holes on the registration process, saying he had discovered that all his children were not appearing on the voters roll yet they had all registered. “Lolukhetfo lolu lutawonakala (this election will be in disarray). Why were there no registration cards issued as was the case previously? Those managing the elections must take a leaf from the team that was in charge of the process in 2018,” he said. MP Magongo explained that the errors were an indication that there were clandestine moves to disrupt the process. “Kucondvwe kuganga la. Some people are not wanted back in Parliament,” he said. He also wanted to know if there would be an extension of the validation period.

Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo said if many people were not appearing in the voters roll, then the whole exercise was in futility. He said the registration process was founded on assumptions that everyone had a cellphone, yet this was not the case. He submitted that if the glitches observed were not rectified soonest, the elections would be a stillborn baby. “It was wrong to tell emaSwati that they needed phones to receive a sign that they registered. You had to give every liSwati a phone first before making it a prerequisite,” he said.

Minister of Agriculture, Jabulani ‘Buy Cash’ Mabuza, who is also Pigg’s Peak MP, wanted to know if the flaws in the regulations had been stipulated intentionally or there was an oversight. He said such flaws had brought confusion to the electorate. He submitted that some voters had been compelled to travel many kilometres at their cost, just to ascertain if they were properly registered. He called to question the regulations that barred a voter from participating in an inkhundla of their choice.

“What if the voter was staying in Mbabane, but recently lost his job and had to return home in Pigg’s Peak. I don’t understand why such a person is not allowed to vote in Pigg’s Peak because that is where his home is.” MP Mabuza also called to question why the EBC did not permit one person to verify names on behalf of family members or friends. “If workers of Buy Cash want to verify that they were properly registered, they should simply send one colleague and give him the names, instead of requiring everyone to go all the way,” he said.


Nkwene MP Vulimpompi Nhleko said he was agitated when he discovered that his name was missing from the voters roll. “I came close to slapping the clerks because I assumed they were playing games with me.” Gilgal MP Sandla Fakudze said: “Hundreds of people who registered are not on the voters roll and are now out of the country for various reasons. If you require them to come back to verify the roll, you imply that they are already out of the election process because they cannot come all the way just to correct the error.” Mtfongwaneni MP Roy Fanourakis said he was ill-treated by registration clerks who probed him to establish his identity and origin.

“They asked me where I was born and demanded to see my particulars. I was not happy at all because they did not do the same to all other voters who were registering,” he said. He recommended that there be a website which voters would use to verify their registration status. Ndzingeni MP Lutfo Dlamini said he was taken aback when one of the clerks in his constituency also discovered that his own name did not appear in the voters roll. “Someone there also informed me that he had calculated the number of missing voters’ names and estimated them at 500.

He reminded the House that elections were a serious political exercise that should not be tampered with. He also called to question why the EBC was using foreign registered vehicles, which did not have an EBC emblem. Dlamini also said he had been informed that everyone who registered during the first five days of the elections was not on the voters roll. He also suggested that the voter registration cards should be restored. Dlamini also questioned why the staff recruited to work in the elections had not been paid. “The EBC officials have all been paid their salaries, so I do not understand why these workers are sent on assignment but will be paid at the end. It gets upsetting when you hear them asking people for money just to buy bread,” he said.

He also questioned the foreign registered fleet used by the EBC. “Given the political climate, it does not augur well to go to communities aboard foreign registered vehicles because they are bound to have suspicions about your mission. You must at least have a sticker that would allay fears to the people and alert them that this is an EBC vehicle,” he said.


He also suggested that there be a hotline to address the voters’ concerns. Mangcongco MP Oneboy Zikalala said: “The worst thing about this is that when there are challenges at the end of the road, government then says we were all in this together. That is wrong. We were not part of these regulations.” Nhlambeni MP Manzi Zwane said the EBC must send text messages to all voters advising them of their registration status, instead of telling them to go all the way to see the voters roll. The deadline for the validation of the voters roll is July 12, while the nominations would be held countrywide on July 22.