A.T Dlamini was a better PM
MBABANE – Former Prime Minister, Themba Absalom Dlamini has been rated better than the current Prime Minister, Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini.
The comparison was made by several individuals representing different organisations.
The former PM served during the 2003-08 term while the current PM is serving his second term after having served previously from 1998-2003.
At some point during last year’s mass protest action in February, protesters said they missed the former Prime Minister.
This they said was because he was accessible and would make himself available to the people. They further claimed that as protesters they were allowed to protest freely without being beaten up by the police.
The marchers who included workers and students from various institutions of higher learning were carrying many placards that had inscriptions calling for democracy, rejecting salary cuts and also how they missed the former premier.
Among the demands listed by the workers as not having been met by government include the withdrawal of Circular No.1 of 2010, the restructuring of the Tender Board, the improvement on the non-taxation of terminal benefits, an additional judge of the industrial court, the failure to bring Tibiyo and Tisuka Taka Ngwane within government, sources of income and the provision of drugs in hospitals and clinics.
When called about this, the former Premier, A.T. Dlamini said he was not aware that there were banners about him during the march.
He refused to comment on the matter and even his relationship with workers and students during his tenure.
Of late there have been more people saying they missed A.T Dlamini as Prime Minister. They are of the view that the current PM, Sibusiso Dlamini is a no-nonsense person and firm, which makes working with him impossible.
Among the issues that sparked controversy during the tenure of the current PM was the call for the reintroduction of spakatane, a form of physical punishment to protesters and the November 28 statement which talked about government’s unwilli-ngness to budge to the then court rulings on the return of the evicted people of Macetjeni and KaMkhweli.
The interviewees were asked on their experiences in relation with the fraternities they work for. They were guided by the hiccups and successes they had during both tenures.
Quinton Dlamini, Secretary General of the National Association of Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) rated the current premier at four out of 10 and the former at eight out of 10.
Why A.T was better
Justifying this, Dlamini described A.T as employee-friendly and said he was always willing to listen.
"He was very objective in his approach and he was quick to respond to the people’s concerns," he said.
He made an example of the forensic audit that KPMG condu-cted on the Central Transport Administration (CTA).
He said the civil servants had demanded that an audit be conducted after observing certain abnormalities on the operations of the CTA.
"A.T was no angel, but he was far better. During his tenure there was little controversy in almost all aspects. What I also liked about him was his sensitiveness regarding the respect of the rule of law," he said.
Why not the current premier
Dlamini said the current PM has not done anything about issues such as Circular No. 1 of 2010.
He said during his time there has been a number of contro-versial decisions that have been taken including the November 28 statement, problems in the operations of some parastatals like the SPTC and MTN wrangle and the judicial crisis.
"I have never heard of a premier who had taken the government he was heading to court or who has had a confrontation with the Speaker. It was during his time that lawyers staged a year long boycott," he said.
Charles Bennett, the former President of the Swaziland Principals’ Association (SWAPA) said the current PM has a more aggressive approach on things, which he said in most cases leads to disaster.
Why A.T was better
He said former Prime Minister A.T Dlamini was more diplomatic and said things openly.
"He emphasised on accoun-tability and he did not bring many changes in the education sector," he said.
Bennett said A.T confronted issues smoothly and he would consult.
He said they managed to have more meetings with A.T if they had issues to discuss with him as principals.
"Even if he would not readily have solutions to our problems, but at least he would listen," he said.
Why not the current premier
He said the current Prime Minister’s aggressive approach may work for some issues, but most of the time it goes overboard.
"Sitting around a table yields good results, but doing things without engaging the affected parties does not solve the problem. For instance, just last week the premier announced the three-year suspension of salary increments for civil servants. This came as a shock and it may result to negative reaction because the people who are directly affected were not informed prior to the decision and the public statement," said Bennett.
He said if there had been negotiations, there would be plan B to solve the issue.
Emmanuel Ndlangamandla, Director of the Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO), said there was more dialogue with the former Prime Minister than there is with the current one.
Why A.T was better
He said A.T was accessible and they would have regular talks with him, which helped in the implementation of many policies and he also tried to solve the judicial crisis that he found when he took over and reinstituted the Appeals Court.
"Worth noting, though, is that the fiscal challenges were not at this magnitude during his tenure which might have enabled him to perform better. A.T also managed to work smoothly with Parliament throughout his term.
"He placed public interest first and he was hard on corruption as he was more vocal, even though he did not have the right tools at that time. It is also during his tenure that we witnessed the roll-out of social grants and hard work being done on policies like the gender policy and others."
Why not the current premier
He said the current PM came at a time when there was a financial crisis that might be contributory to the many confrontations with various sectors and this may have also resulted to the challenges with the roll-out of the Free Primary Education which started off with mixed decisions.
"This tenure is generally more problematic and government seems not to be solving the economic crisis but instead giving more attention to the security services when the public has mixed feelings about the manner in which the police are handling themselves.
"The police are able to get away with murder and brutality because their minister is not aggressive enough on them. This tenure has become difficult for people who want to express their concerns because they are not given an ear. Under normal circumstances societies elect governments not to dictate to them but to assist them to a better life.
"During this tenure we have also witnessed a stand-off with Parliament from the onset. Parliament had not been given the liberty to function and this has caused problems because as another arm of government it has to operate independently," he said.
Ndlangamandla said the de-registration of TUCOSWA will also go into the records because it infringes on the rights of the people.
Elliot Mkhatshwa, a civil servant said during AT’s time the country was better economically, politically and socially.
He said people were allowed to stage protest actions which did not last long as Dlamini would invite them over for talks.
Why A.T was better
He said A.T did not have a negative attitude when opinion clashed.
"Imagine how he managed to handle his position just in one term, we could feel the difference," said Mkhatshwa.
He said he was professional in dealing with matters and would not use power when tackling issues.
"He had a skill and he did things without fear or favour. He had respect for the rule of law and did not take matters personal," he said.
He said A.T. did not use force because he respected human rights, even though there was not much that the country was doing to show respect of such.
Why not the current premier
The current PM has driven workers into poverty.
The establishment of the Swaziland Revenue Autho-rity (SRA) and the intro-duction of Value Added Tax (VAT) will literally kill Swazis.
He likened this to a tick that has grown fatter than the cow from which it sucks blood.
He said with the previous tax payments, Swazis were contributing 31 per cent and with the present arra-ngement the contribution was at 51 per cent.
"Swaziland is not even a country but a family yet it contributes far more than neighbouring South Africa which makes about 30 per cent from taxpayers yet its population is far bigger than ours."
The current PM does not allow dialogue, but fights people who fight for their rights.
Mkhatshwa, a former executive member of the civil servants association, said the issue of Circular No. 1 was also not being attended to, yet it was a huge financial drain to the taxpayer.
Titus Mlangeni, President of the Law Society of Swaziland (LSS) said he had reservations about voicing his opinion on this.
This is despite that the legal fraternity was involved in a legal boycott that remained unresolved for about a year, which led to a halt in court cases.
He said he was worried if it would make any difference to compare the governance of the two. "Experience has taught me that whether or not we critique and compare, it makes no difference. Otherwise I have a lot to say about this issue, but I choose not to because I really do not see its value. I think I’ve gone past that stage because we do not achieve anything," he said.
Mlangeni was not in the LSS executive during the tenure of A.T, but he was elected into office two years ago, taking after Sipho Nkosi.
He was on-ce Mini-ster of Justice.
I am amazed at the shallow statements by people normally regarded as seasoned activists. The differences between A.T. and S.B are superficial. Fellow Swazis, when you are raped by a man it does not matter whether he does it with a smile or a frown, whether he kisses you while doing it or bites you. The fact remains, you are being raped. A.T. only slowed down our revolution by blowing into the wound that is created by this executive monarchy.
Jul 14, 2012, 2:08 AM, Sabelo Ndzinisa (Sabndzini@yahoo.com)
A.T Dlamini was and still is our beloved Premier.
Jul 14, 2012, 2:08 AM, Sunshine Mangweni (email@example.com)
HONESTLY, I CAN'T BELIEVE THESE PEOPLE. SO THEY WANT A WEAK PRIME MINISTER KHONA BATOMEKHWELA ENHLOKO AND ALLOW LAWLESSNESS TO BE THE ORDER OF THE DAY. BARNABAS IS DEFINITELY A NO-NONSENSE PERSON AND A MAJORITY OF SWAZIS APPRECIATE THAT. DURING THE TIME OF A.T WE ALL REMEMBER THAT A LOT OF MONEY WAS WASTED. FOR EXAMPLE, AMBASSADORS WERE TRAVELLING UP AND DOWN ON FIRST CLASS TICKETS LIKE NOBODY'S BUSINESS. BARNABAS STOPPED THAT. CIVIL SERVANTS WERE TRAVELLING EVEN TO ONE-DAY CONFERENCES AND BEING GIVEN HUGE ALLOWANCES. BARNABAS STOPPED THAT. UNIONS WERE INSULTING THE KING LEFT, RIGHT AND CENTRE. BARNABAS WABETSEMBISA SPAKATANE BECAUSE THEY ARE JUST DOWNRIGHT DISRESPECTFUL! SO THEY WANT TO CONTINUE DISRESPECTING LEADERSHIP. LET ME MAKE IT CLEAR. EVEN IN AMERICA PEOPLE ARE ARRESTED FOR INSULTING OBAMA. LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE "OCCUPY WALL STREET" MOVEMENT. THEY WERE BEATEN UP THROUGHLY FOR THE SEDITIOUS STATEMENTS AND PLACARDS THEY CARRIED. WHAT ARE THESE SO-CALLED UNIONISTS SAYING? ANGIVA SIBILI MINE. BATSI BAFUNA LELIVE LIPHATFWE BUDLEPHU? I DON'T THINK THE MAJORITY OF SWAZIS WANT THAT.
Jul 14, 2012, 2:08 AM, Lobusika Dlamini
By my standards PM Sibusiso has plunged this country deep into a social, political, judicial and economic discord. I mean the man has failed all the tests of governors, and has come out with flying colours as a ruler, tyrant and dictator. His style of leadership is out of touch with the times. But again I can not blame the man. Do people remember the statement made at the cattle byre when he was appointed? As far as I am concerned, he has been very successful achieving that mandate, trouble is we dont know when kwekhama will end. The police are agents of kwekhama and people should not blame them, and to tell you the truth some of them have confessed to not liking what they are asked to do. They just have to tow the line. To show that he has succeeded in carrying out the mandate, even after people have complained about the man and his cabinet, nothing has been done.
Jul 14, 2012, 2:08 AM, Burns Dlamini (Lobhoncela) (Burnspolitics@gmail.com)
There's this mantra that says "what counts is usually not counted. But what is counted usually does not count". During his term of office, A.T was not counted and yet we realize today that he counted and still counts. No one bothered himself to go to A.T. to say, hey Mr. A.T., thank you for being humble and for all the economic success, the new jobs created, the corruption he addressed when he, himself, was not corrupt, and the social peace he brought to Swaziland. Not one of us bothered to go and thank our good king, as per custom, for appointing a wise leader like A.T. If the nation had done that, the king would generally know what type of person is usually appreciated by his nation. Now it's too late. All the achievements he made have been totally reversed. Now Mr. A.T., who was not an ounce vindictive, is at home (Tibiyo) and to rid himself of stress, he is busy fighting vindictive crocodiles on weekends which are invading his peanuts farm in Sidvokodvo. We often see him around town wearing his khakhi farming attire, humble as ever, and wish he could know how much we all deeply respect him even to this day. People should stop complaining about the leadership we currently have because I think we 'deserve' it.
Jul 14, 2012, 2:08 AM, Kate (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When I think of A.T., my eyes well up with tears because I never realized he was that good until the opposite along. That's not the way to conduct our life because as a Christian country. People shouldn't finally realize the grace of God only when they've tasted the wrath of the devil. Coming to the current PM specifically, I think he is a good administrator especially when the situation is normal. People may disagree, but I think he was one of the best finance ministers this country has ever had, because we had loads of money back then. In times of plenty, he's good, but in times of famine, less so. A few weeks before he vacated office to join the IMF in the late 90's, he crafted a Finance Circular similar to Circular No.1, 2010, which gave generous benefits to himself and the other politicians. People seem to have forgotten that one. We didn't complain much back then. In fact, if memory serves me, and I stand to be corrected here, only an MP by the name of Dzingalive questioned the circular. Like I said, this PM is great when it comes to managing in normal and simple situations. I've got a feeling that, in a turbulent situation like the one we have, he seems to get lost and frustrated. When he gets frustrated he then allegedly gets rather personal. We shouldn't expect the PM to be a perfect all-rounder, as if he's the most intelligent person in Swaziland. His Excellency also has his own management shortcomings. And we are witnessing these shortcomings almost on a daily basis as he dithers, rather capriciously and consistently, in managing the teachers' strike and whatever rumblings that come with it. This situation we're facing may be over the PM's depth but, somehow, I think he could still manage it if he sincerely tried hard enough. A wise leader knows when to scream for help. As a result, I am keeping my ears open to that loud scream, which I know will be heard sooner than later. This country can't go on like this forever. The 'engine' is about to pack up and cease for good, unless a qualified mechanic is urgently recruited.
Jul 14, 2012, 2:08 AM, Nomathambela G. (email@example.com)
In my opinion the current PM is a dictator, has selfish ambitions. Circular no.1 of 2010 is an example of how selfish he can be. If he can continue to be PM, we shall have a civil war in SD just like Libya. Former PM, A.T. Worked for the betterment of the Swazi people and their Nation. He was diplomatic, used dialogue to solve issues. Under his reign we wouldn't be having all the problems we are currently facing. A.T. Never worked for personal gain, but for the Nation at large. The nation deserves to have such people in power.
Jul 14, 2012, 2:08 AM, Mavukuvuku
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