MBABANE: Acting Prime Minister Senator Themba Masuku has changed tune from his earlier statement on national radio where he challenged the three Members of Parliament(MPs) who are advocating for democratic reforms to provide evidence that they were mandated by the people, he now wants democratic reforms to be endorsed by Chiefs.
This comes after Hosea MP Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza organised a meeting that was attended by over 2000 residents where the issue of democratic reforms including the election of a Prime Minister was discussed at length, the residents expressed their support for the MP to continue advocating for political changes on their behalf.
The Acting Prime Minister when quoted by the Times Sunday subsequently changed tune demanding to know whether the Hosea MP received a mandate from the Chiefs under Hosea Inkhundla to call for the democratic reforms.
“All I had asked from him were the minutes he had, not the one he made yesterday during that meeting” ,said the Acting Prime Minister when quoted by the Times Sunday.
Reached for comments by this Swaziland News, Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza, the Hosea MP said the Acting Prime Minister does not understand democracy because he was not elected by the people adding that Constitutionally, Chiefs are not allowed to interfere in politics and the will of the people.
"I am not surprised by the sentiments of the Acting Prime Minister, if he was elected by the people, he would understood that an elected politician does not need the permission of Chiefs to meet with the people. As an elected MP, I meet with the people everywhere babike tinkinga tabo. I don't only meet the people at Umphakatsi or Inkhundla but I interact with them at funerals, churches, towns, soccer tournaments, everywhere. Masuku doesn't understand how we meet with the people because as an appointee, he don't know the people" he said.
The Hosea MP said the issue of democracy must be discussed in all the Tinkhundla Centres and everywhere where people meet, he emphasised that Chiefs are not allowed to interfere in politics.
Sabelo Dlamini, the eSwatini Government Spokesperson told Ligwalagwala FM on Thursday that there was freedom in eSwatini adding that citizens were free to discuss political issues at Chiefdom level without intimidation.
"This government was formed by the people who participated in the Tinkhundla elections without fear and intimidation. Each of the 59 Tinkhundla elect their own Member of Parliament (MP) who is accountable to them and as a result we have witnessed remarkable development in the country since Independence. The right to freedom of expression is enshrined in the Constitution , government doesn't suppress the people. Those who feel intimidated against expressing their views should appeal within the relevant structures at Chiefdom level", he said.
But contrary to the sentiments of the Government Spokesperson, on Saturday, Zwakele Dlamini, the Shiselweni Regional Secretary was exposed in a recorded telephone conversation with Hosea Indvuna YeNkhundla(Constituency Headman) Richard Vilane where he was attempting to send police officers to disrupt a meeting organised at Hosea Inkhundla that was attended by over 2000 people. The office of the Regional Secretary that intimidated the Constituency Headman is the highest traditional office in the region that oversees the operations of Chiefs, it reports directly to King Mswati.
“Who are you reporting to? Asengikubute uphetfwe kuphi wena? Nine-function eNkhundleni anikasibhaleli kutosatisa, yini lentfo leyo?(meaning: You organised a function at the Inkhundla without seeking permission from us, why? We are aware of that meeting as the Regional Office, I will send police officers to stop it”,said the Regional Secretary in the recorded conversation.
Eswatini, a tiny Kingdom situated in Southern African and ruled by King Mswati as an absolute Monarch has about 70% of the population living below the poverty line, political parties are banned from participating in elections and as per the attempt by the Regional Secretary on Saturday, Government normally sends armed police officers to disperse gatherings whose agenda is to discuss democratic reforms. The country is facing growing calls for democratic reforms from outside and within the Tinkhundla system, police recently fired teargas and alleged live ammunitions to disrupt the memorial service of Thabani Nkomonye who was allegedly killed by the police.
Siphofaneni MP Mduduzi 'Magawugawu' Simelane one of the most vocal MPs calling for democracy change had his car shot with teargas by the police during the memorial service.
Hosea residents during a meeting to discuss democratic reforms