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PARASTATALS: DO THEY SERVE THEIR PURPOSE?

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IT seems that where there is government footprint, there is a problem of late. I am not sure who to thank for the opening of the Swaziland Christian University.

But I think to say Bayethe will be better because we are told it took the intervention of the King to have the university opened. I also want to thank Parliament and Cabinet for demonstrating to the King that they have failed. Why would it take the King to solve a problem that was created by the very same government? It is government that decided to close the university, thus creating the problem. I fail to fathom why they then failed to correct the mess they created. The learning time that has been wasted will need a lot of effort to recover and government will be complaining that students are failing yet it created the failures.


Government and tertiary students have been up in arms with each other over allowances. It is government which awarded the students scholarships. It knew how much money it had. It boggles the mind then when government fails to pay what is supposed to be paid. Why should it take strikes for government to release the funds? What is surprising is that each time the students engage in a strike, government suddenly releases the funds. Why are the funds not released before the students strike?


People are complaining that their groceries have been spoiled in fridges because there was no electricity. Reading about that I thought is it wise to have government parastatals that have no competition? This made me think of the MTN we had before Swazi Mobile came to the fore. I looked at the benefits there are now after the competition. I had never thought I would call for 15 minutes at a cost of two Emalangeni. And I asked myself what happened to the high costs that we were subjected to? If the companies granted authority could produce enough electricity to supply the nation, maybe people would stop complaining about blackouts.

The Swaziland Electricity Company, which is owned by government, had its workers on strike, who were complaining about what they had to get from government and government was not willing to release it to them. People lost a lot in terms of food rotting in fridges and government did not care. At the end, after people had suffered, government decided to give in to the workers’ demands.

The question is why should there be suffering first before the money is released? At the end of the day people will not be compensated. If there were other companies providing this service, I am sure this would not be happening. But because there is government footprint in all this, then this is what you get.

SEC is always awarded increases in electricity tariffs and they declare profits of millions every year. Why is the company not willing to pay its staff because after all it is taking money from innocent Swazis who have no alternative other than to get electricity from SEC and they are made to pay until they drop? What benefit is there for Swazis that this is a government parastatal if they have to pay handsomely for the service and at times do not get the service because government does not want to pay?
There is the Swaziland Water Services Corporation (SWSC) which is also enjoying a monopoly in water services in the country. We have just been told that it is failing to give water to people in Ezulwini because it is failing to negotiate with a former senator. We are told that the law allows it to do certain things but it is failing to use that law to avail water to suffering residents. I can bet my last cent that if there were other service providers in the same sector, water would have been provided to the people in Ezulwini by now.
In my opinion, SWSC also needs to go the same route as its colleagues and provide a prepaid service. I think this will help stop this annoying habit they have of not reading meters and just charge what they think. The next thing you know it stops providing water provision to your residence. What is even more frustrating is that after paying its employees take their time to reconnect the supply. When they do it is usually so late in the day. And for offices it is usually after working hours. And the next thing, after estimating, the bill will be high. I am pleased that I harvest water and have less use of their service. I will soon be using solar power instead of SEC. But I feel parastatals are no longer serving their purpose and wish there should be competitors to have them up their game. Maybe government would also know that it has to act fast, otherwise it would lose customers. 

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