Here’s an interesting question: what is the job of the Swaziland Environment Authority (SEA)? Can anyone recall when they ever stopped a project from taking place because it posed a health risk to the public? No? Us neither.
ICT Minister Winnie Magagula is being disingenuous when she suggests that any problems with cellphone masts should be high-lighted by the SEA.
It’s highly unlikely - can anyone imagine someone from the SEA approaching Cabinet to point out that locating cellphone towers near where people live is dangerous because they are proven to cause a huge increase in cancers?
Would MTN not have something to say about this, since it would mean relocating the majority of their towers, which seem to have been purposely placed close to residential areas in order to get the most cellphone coverage for their customers?
What about the startlingly tall towers disguised as trees in Mbabane and Ezulwini, to name just two highly-populated areas?
Of course MTN is not going to want to spend a lot of money relocating these towers and, maybe, no one in the SEA is going to have the guts to raise it to the decision-makers in Cabinet.
Minister Magagula, on the other hand, has both the knowledge of the field and its possible dangers at hand and access to Cabinet since she is a member. If there is an issue threatening the health of the people, surely it is her responsibility to raise the concern?
At the very least, now that the concern is being raised, it is clearly the minister’s duty to investigate the issue and find a way to get us the benefits of modern communications technology without the health hazards before we go on a tower-building spree that the nation may regret in coming years.
Paying for damages
A drink-driver, Dumsani Masina of Ezulwini, got off lightly paying a E1 200
fine considering that in his inebriation he used a telephone pole from SPTC as an auxiliary brake.
But he is just one of many – street signs, telephone and electricity poles and even the heavy-duty street lights in Swaziland are often found bending at strange angles, sometimes to the point where they become unusable to motorists, even those of sober habits.
It’s time for people to take responsibility for their actions and mistakes by repairing the damage they cause in moments of thoughtlessness.
Our legislators need to put in place laws requiring those who damage public property to pay for the timely repair of said property as well as a punitive fine.
Paying to stay out of jail teaches people they don’t have to face the full consequences of their actions if they have the money to avoid it, but paying to repair the damage one has caused teaches people they are responsible for their actions and so must think carefully before making a decision to do something.
When wood-gathering is theft
It is disturbing that the police can just start confiscating firewood without prior warning. Although the sale of the wood has been illegal for years, it has become customary to see rag-clad vendors hawking the fruits of their collecting on the side of the roads and it obviously comes as a surprise to them to find out that what they thought was honest labour is actually illegal.
In fact, most of what used to be called ‘hunting and gathering’ activities have been reclassified as ‘poaching and theft’, which leaves those who believe that if something is not being used then they can use it a little short of ideas as to how to survive.
Affected communities reported an increase in crime the very next day! But why should people turn to further criminal behaviour? Basically, when one thinks about it, why is their collecting free wood defensible in the first place?
Human beings were created to create. We make things better by making things. Some plant, tend and harvest crops, others manufacture useful items. If we’re not creating something then we are not adding to the world but merely taking from it – and now we have taken so much that we are even running out of our traditional trees.
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