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If the attitude of voters during the countrywide nominations exercise last weekend is anything to go by, the next five years will not bring about any meaningful socio-political change.

It appears that our country lives true to the phrase, ‘the more things change, the more they remain the same.’ The calibre of people nominated to proceed to the primary stage of the elections does not inspire any hope that the next government will be different from previous ones. The next administration will be almost similar to the 2018-2023 government, which arguably holds the record of being the most ineffective in terms of service delivery and welfare of citizens. It was during the tenure of the outgoing administration that prices of basic commodities like bread, cooking oil, electricity and fuel shot up to dizzying levels.

It was the outgoing Parliament that allowed the Executive arm of government to reduce the number of students benefitting from the government scholarship programme for higher education. There was progress in terms of infrastructural development but when heavy rains fell in summer, it was disaster on the roads. This resulted in some people failing to get to work on time. Some schools were even temporarily closed as crossing flooded rivers would be dangerous. Many emaSwati risked life and limb to get to the other side of these flooded rivers.


This is a country that prides itself in having built beautiful roads like the Manzini-Sikhuphe, Ngwenya-Manzini and Nhlangano-Lavumisa freeways. However, it has largely neglected people in rural areas, whose cries for better roads have not yet been heard. In January this year, a picture of community members atop the roof rack of a bus travelling from Mahlangatsha to Manzini trended on social media. Apparently, this was the only bus that would be leaving that area that day and anyone left behind would miss either school or work. With the approval of the helpless driver, they climbed up to the luggage rack, where they risked falling off and getting injured or worse. This area is one of many that have Members of Parliament (MPs) who might return to the august House, come September 29, 2023.

Yes, I know that it is not the duty of MPs to build roads. Their duty, as confirmed by Section 106 of the national Constitution, is to enact legislation. However, it is also the responsibility of Parliament to maintain oversight of the Executive, on behalf of the nation. MPs should ‘represent the interests and aspirations of constituents for the promotion of democratic governance and achievement of sustainable development.’ Therefore, at the end of the day, it is the duty of legislators to ensure that the executive arm of government delivers services like proper roads, quality education and excellent healthcare, among other things. The outcry during the tenure of the outgoing MPs has been that they allowed the Executive to do as it pleased, to the detriment of the taxpaying public. Speaking of healthcare, the 2018 – 2023 Parliament struggled to persuade Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi and the entire Cabinet to ensure that funds allocated to the ministry were utilised for exactly what they were provided for.


As stated in a previous comment, it is scandalous that a ministry that had about E2.7 billion allocated to it just four months ago claims to have no money to purchase medical drugs and other supplies. This recklessness indifference from the Executive has rendered the country’s public health system practically dead. Take note that outgoing MPs will continue to enjoy the benefits of being parliamentarians until the full five-year period elapses. It does not matter that Parliament was dissolved on July 12, 2023. Their contract with government, as the employer, is for the full five years. Among the benefits they enjoy is medical aid, which most of the people who voted them into office cannot afford.

In a country where 63 per cent of the population live on less than E20 a day, medical aid will always remain a ‘rumour’ to many. One cannot be faulted to conclude that, just like their counterparts in Cabinet, legislators did not push hard enough for drugs and other medical supplies to be always fully stocked up because they do not use public health facilities.Together with their families, they go to private hospitals and clinics, which charge an arm and a leg for consultation and medication, let alone specialised operations in the theatre. Now, Chapter V of the national Constitution deals with directive principles of State policy. These include political, social, law enforcement, foreign policy objectives as well as ensuring the independence of the judiciary. These are outlined in Sections 56 to 62.

It is a long chapter but let me make an example of Section 57 (1) which provides that “law enforcement officials shall, at all times, fulfil the duty imposed upon them by the law by serving the community and by protecting all persons against illegal acts, consistent with the high degree of responsibility required by their profession.” At the height of the political instability that gave birth to the June/July 2021 deadly riots, law enforcement agencies dismally failed to fulfil this constitutional obligation.


Parliament also sat and watched as security officers let loose live rounds on civilians. They watched as criminals hijacked the situation to steal cars willy-nilly, kill people in cold blood along the streets and ransack people’s houses just for fun. The outgoing Parliament failed us dismally. It cannot and should not hide behind the COVID-19 excuse because that was a global pandemic that affected every country in the world. My worry is that quite a significant number of the outgoing MPs are likely to bounce back to office, if last weekend’s nominations outcomes are anything to go by. Yes it is good to see some new faces that will hopefully bring about some positive change, it is said a new broom sweeps cleaner. However, most emaSwati have clearly not applied their minds in selecting the people who might form the next government. We will still have many of the outgoing MPs who dismally failed us, relatively unknown pastors, oblivious socialites, tired pensioners, some ambitious members of the security forces and ill-prepared entertainers getting the huge mandate to be in charge of the country for the next five years. Not much will change.