Elections not the only sign of Democracy
MBABANE – Outgoing United States of America Ambassador to Swaziland Earl Irving says holding elections is not the only indicator of a democracy.
However, he highlighted the people’s ability to hold their national leaders accountable for everything they did while in office and even recall them when deemed necessary, as very important precepts of democracy.
In an interview on Tuesday, Irving urged Swazis to be determined in their goal towards a democratic society, as an aspiration set out in the Constitution.
"They should find what works for them culturally because every democracy is unique to the society in which it is practised. I was in Australia before and I found out that their democracy was different in that all citizens are required to vote, and this is not optional," said Irving.
The Ambassador added that every country had to find its own system of governance, which answered questions such as ‘does it allow people to choose government leaders’ and also ‘are people allowed to change the government if they want to’.
Furthermore, he pointed out that change was an inevitable part of life, and therefore systems (including politics) survived the test of time by accommodating change.
"A system has to be responsive and vigorous for its continuity," Irving said.
"I am for multiparty system and it’s no secret, but Swaziland needs to find its own way. As far as the Swazi Constitution is concerned it is silent on multiparties," said Irving.
He substantiated this by saying there was no mechanism outlined for parties to be formed and be registered. He also said for the country to move towards this type of system, certain mechanisms would have to be put in place to allow change, but at a pace agreeable to the country’s stakeholders.
Asked about the status of the bilateral relations between the kingdom and the United States, Irving said they were good even though there were things both countries did not agree on.
However, the bottom line was the goal of the United States to see a healthy, prosperous and stable Swaziland.
Dialogue the solution to strikes
MBABANE – Earl Irving says the end of any wor-kers’ strike is at the nego-tiation table.
The Ambassador was responding to a question about the civil service protest actions that have been going on in the country over the past month, and not wanting to appear any less diplomatic, he said in his home country dialoguing at the table normally saw the end of strikes.
"In the US when people go on a strike it’s usually a reflection that dialogue is either insufficient or broken down. Strikes are an expression of dissatisfaction manifested by protests.
These rights are guaranteed," he said. The kingdom has seen some strike actions by teachers and other civil servants for the past three weeks over their demand for 4.5 per cent salary increment. Government has not only maintained that there is no money for the increments in its coffers, but also that there would not be any increment for three years.
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