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MERELY TICKING BOXES OR IS GOVT COMMITTED?

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AS a topic to give my opinion on today, I thought of the health problems in the country but I decided not to discuss it because I think enough has been said.

That the coffers of the Phalala Fund having gone dry have a devastating effect on the people of this country cannot be overstated by mentioning it every day. Those in government should be doing something already if they have the best interest of the people at heart. One thing though that I may mention is that the minister of Health must know that travelling to regional and international meetings while the ministry she is leading is not performing well will not score her high grades. She must concentrate on her ministry.

Of course I am not saying some meetings are not important but she is just too much out of the country when things are getting worse in her ministry. In the regional and international meetings that our government officials go to they even sign documents in which they commit the country to certain obligations. Coming back home those obligations signed for in the documents are not told to the people and government does nothing about those documents.

What happens next is that some people pick those documents and then ask government why it is not implementing what is in them. What follows is that those people asking those questions are labelled enemies of the State and are unpatriotic. The question that begs an answer is why do government officials commit the country to those treaties and covenants? If they do not want to be questioned on those commitments, they should just refrain from committing the country. Or we sign just to tick boxes?


One such covenant that the country committed to is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which came into force in the country on  March 26, 2004. On April 26, 2005 the country was supposed to submit a report to the Human Rights Committee on the human rights situation in the country but up to date, there has never been a report that was submitted.

The question is why are we not submitting the report because we were not forced to commit ourselves to the covenant? Were we ticking boxes? I say so because clearly we were not committed to the covenant if we fail to submit reports in such a long time.
On July 7-10, 2017 the country appeared without the report before the Human Rights Committee. I must mention that it was a credit to our government that at least they did appear even though without the report.

That is clearly recommended and it shows some commitment even though government had to be dragged to appear. On July 25, 2017 the Human Rights Committee adopted some concluding observations about the human rights situation in the country and some recommendations were made. My concern though is what are we doing about those recommendations. The country is supposed to provide the Human Rights Committee with information on the implementation of certain recommendations within a year of the adoption of the concluding observations of the committee.

Adoption was on July 25, 2017; therefore we are expected to provide the information on or before July 25, 2018. What is worrying me is that it seems nothing is being done by our government on those recommendations other than the Sexual and Domestic Violence Bill which will cater for some of the recommendations. Will government then blame those who will submit before the committee for doing nothing about the recommendations? Who is to be blamed here, the people who refuse to tell lies that something is being done or government that decided to do nothing about the recommendations?


I know that the perennial excuse of finances will be raised as hindrance to implementing the recommendations. But I will differ because some of those recommendations just need commitment on government to implement them. An example I will give is that government was called upon to widely disseminate the covenant. A number of people who will read this article might lose interest because they are not aware of the covenant and why it should interest them. We have the national broadcasting service where government could easily disseminate information about the covenant.

I am sure expertise can be tapped from civil society organisations that can discuss and clarify the covenant. So the financial excuse will not hold. I am sure some people would even enjoy doing the translation of the concluding observation into siSwati for free. But government will not do that. In my opinion the reason is that government does not want people to know their rights because human rights are an insult to it. Therefore in my opinion government signed these covenants and international treaties just to tick boxes than being committed to what they provide. We want to be in the club as a country yet we do not subscribe to the provisions of the covenants and treaties.

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