Tackling the symptoms not the cause
Government’s hard-line position on the teachers’ strike seems to be informed by the perception in government that the ‘Waya Waya’ protest is "no longer about the 4.5 per cent salary adjustment, it’s about something else," as the Minister for Education Wilson Ntshangase put it, while declining to mention what that something else is. Well, of course it’s about something else.
It’s about government’s adamant refusal to listen to common sense advice and queries from the populace over the last two years regarding the direction this country is going in. It’s about imposing new taxes on the eve of inflation; it’s about the lack of delivery from all government services. It’s about respect, the respect that a government must show to its people if it wishes for support from those same people.
And ultimately it’s about hunger and the fear that survival itself will become, by necessity, the only goal of every citizen in the near future precluding development or any other improvements. This is the ‘obtaining scenario’ which people wish to change and it provides fertile ground for those elements which may want to direct the people’s anger into the path of dreaded regime change.
No matter what government does, if it doesn’t change the environment of poverty or the perception that it is wrongly prioritising where public funds go, then it won’t tame the wild emotions that will, ultimately, make their worst nightmares come true. The people want change, not regime change specifically, but if they don’t get any change at all, they’ll settle for whatever change they can get. And once again the MPs are out of their depth and want to dump the whole mess on the King’s lap.
‘Get sick, you die’
Sadly, unbelievably, the nurses are actually on strike, despite being an essential service. Their slogan, ‘Wagula Wafa’ (‘get sick, you die’) sums up their humanitarianism as regards their fellow human beings and countrymen.
It’s good to see that government is doing what it can to make up for the shortfall in service by deploying Correctional Services nurses, but "it’s just a skeleton that could be crippled if the nurses continue with their action," as Mbabane Government Hospital Customer Care Officer Mthembeni Maseko put it. It may, therefore, be prudent to reinforce them with medical specialists from the military as well to prevent as many unnecessary deaths as possible.
However, government isn’t going to be able to fire all the nurses in the same way it wants to fire all the striking teachers; their knowledge and skills are simply needed too much. The real danger now is the combination of the education and health crises destroying both our mental and physical human resources at the same time when we need healthy and well-informed people to rescue our economy.
Circular No.1 on terminal benefits
Currently, if Cabinet were to resign today, they would each be entitled to terminal benefits consisting of "an ex-gratia payment in an amount which after tax is equal to 50 per cent of the gross salary earned during the term of office." That’s almost a million Emalangeni each for service in this term. And we have 20 ministers (counting the PM and DPM).
This isn’t counting the 50-odd MPs (who get 25 per cent for each year – roughly another E15 million in total) or the senators (another E9 million or so), all of whom come to the end of their terms in 2013. The most revealing part, however, is the calculation of the sum – after the benefit is taxed it still has to amount to half of the untaxed salary.
It makes one wonder how the politicians calculate the amounts they declare to the Human Rights and Integrity Commission when they declare their assets. But there’s only one snag: "Should the official be dismissed or removed from office due to circumstances involving misconduct or incompetence, the severance grant should not be awarded." We could save E50 million by just dissolving the lot for failure to – well, just failure in general, really.
Editor, it's clear that you don't realize that you have just saved the tax payer a whopping E50 million! Your last remark that "if an official is fired for misconduct or incompetence, he will not be awarded the benefits of Circular No. 1, 2010" should be noted by the authorities. In my opinion, this is an 'out-of-the-box' observation, at least on your part, which unfortunately had all but escaped most observers. You have offered a solution to save this country some serious money. By firing the whole lot i.e., government and the MP's for misconduct and incompetence, respectively, would save the whole nation a lot of money and would 'incite' the teachers to go back to class immediately. After what these politicians have done to personally enrich themselves, what with state assets including botched heavily discounted land sales and indefensible Circular perks, they deserve to go home only with the small benefits listed in the Employment Act. They've done nothing special for the country and shouldn't there enjoy special benefits. Take the land which they awarded themselves illegally, this should constitute a crime of attempted fraud which should be revived the minute they are fired. It's the law, and it's well documented, that people can't benefit more than once regarding gov't land. But people have been benefiting so many times in complete disregard of this law. Editor, this is called fraud and it is prosecutable as a crime. To then proceed to award suspected and alleged fraudsters with even more benefits listed in Circular no 1, 2010 is inexcusable by me. The MP's must go home too, en-masse. Their crime is a simple one. Incompetence. It is not an allegation but a fact which, they, themselves would gladly plead guilty to. They have failed us and it's too bad that incompetence, like foolishness, is not a prosecutable criminal offence. Editor you have made an excellent money-saving observation and it's too bad that good ideas are not rewarded in Swaziland. Had you made a made a stupid observation though, I'd be first to ask you to start preparing your award 'acceptance speech'. Foolish ideas generally carry a good premium in Swaziland you know. Look around,,,
Jul 20, 2012, 7:01 AM, Thoughts Without Borders (email@example.com)
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