MBABANE: Anthony Mthembu, a teacher by profession has won ten thousand Rand (R10,000.00) after producing a well-articulated article that seeks to give direction and public expectations from the coming new democratic government.
HERE IS THE ARTICLE
BY ANTHONY MTHEMBU.
Swaziland News writers competition winner.
Swaziland is faced with a plethora of socio-economic issues.
These include a crumbling health and education system, extreme poverty, high rate of youth unemployment, lack of freedoms and rights enshrined in the constitution and a poor investment climate.
The monarch, being absolute, takes bad decisions that cannot be challenged. This reduces the government of the day to nothing but errands people and Messengers who relay messages and commands to the people. They have no autonomy to make decisions that will make the ordinary Swazi people better citizens.
With every new government in office comes hope. Hope; for the future, that things will change for the better, that the ever increasing cost of living will be afforded by the ordinary citizens, the orphaned and the elderly in the rural communities. It renews hope that the ever increasing youth unemployment rate will reduce, the education and health systems will be made better and the political climate will allow for fair representation of all groups of society.
The first 90 days in office for a new government are important because people are still excited about their being in office. There are those who believe in them, and those who don’t. Either way, it is the government’s duty to make an impression. They will either lose those who believe in them, retain those who believe in them, or gain new supporters.
Having highlighted the issues faced by the country, these are the challenges faced by Swaziland, these are ways in which they could be addressed by a democratic government.
The monarch should step aside from politics, and let the people draft their own Constitution without interference from it. The people should elect their own government ie Prime Minister, and MPs. Everyone who has the ability to lead, and whose manifesto has pleased the public will have a chance to lead the government, regardless of their surname, sex or proximity to the King. These should then appoint members of the Judicial arm of government since they’re representing the public.
The house of senate should be fully elected by the House of assembly. I repeat, the monarch should appoint no one! Anyone above the age of 60 should retire, except for those with PhDs (65) and Professors (70). All members of the Kings Advisory Council above 60 should retire and be replaced by fresh, educated minds who will give the king sound advice. They should come from various sectors of society eg agriculture, education, arts, economics, youth, culture.
The security forces should be reserved to protect the public, and elected politicians and not be reduced to royal bodyguards. Any royal family member who wishes to be afforded security should hire private security, or prove beyond reasonable doubt that their life is in danger and should be afforded state security.
The army budget should be declassified and reduced. Members of the security forces should buy their own food, and pay for utilities. No civil servant should be treated better than others.
More funds should be diverted to projects of public interest. Education, health and agriculture should have more funds. This will ensure self reliance, reduce importation of food, ensure a healthy nation, capable of solving their own issues, independent of donor funds. Education, health and agriculture remain the backbone of the economy of the country. The country currently imports most of its food from South Africa. What’ s sad is that the country has vast tracts of land, lying idle. These fertile lands are said to be “held in trust” and are not being utilised. With an educated youth, the government can lease these farms to the youth agriculture graduates, most who are unemployed. An educated and healthy workforce will find ways to better means of agricultural production. Not only will this make the country self-sufficient, but it will increase government receipts in revenue from loans repaid and income tax from those employed in the farms.
Most companies are failing due to ridiculous shareholding demands by the powers that be. Companies and individuals that want to set shop in Swaziland should pay the required taxes, and let them be. The culture of paying allegiance to the monarch rids the country of many investment opportunities. Without these demands, many companies and individuals would invest in our country and more will be employed to contribute to the economy.
Enterprises which were started with public funds like Tibiyo TakaNgwane should go back to the public. The profits made by these institutions are huge to be spent feeding one family. They should be made parastatals and remit profits to the government.
The Royal family is huge. And it grows each and every day as the kings children get married and have children. For them being dependent on our taxes is a huge dent on the economy. As such, none should live on public funds. It makes no sense that there is one big family that contributes nothing to the economy living on public funds where there are many small families of people who contribute to the public purse living on bread crumbs.
The issue of useless praise singers being paid by public funds should come to an end, they serve no important purpose. Everybody else should work for their lifestyle. NO ONE SHOULD BE ABOVE THE LAW, we should be able to call everyone to account for their actions. There should be no demigods amongst us.
Lastly, no one should be arrested for voicing out their opinion if it falls within the right to freedom of speech without breaking any other reasonable law. This includes the general public and the press, who should be able to report issues of public interest without fear or favour. We were all created equal, no one should have the birth right of privilege amongst others using public funds. Let us remember, Swaziland should be for those who legally live in it. No one should see themselves as more Swazi than another. We are all Swazis and should be treated as stakeholders, and not subjects.