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ARE THESE INDICATIONS?

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In the past I mentioned that the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) must leave a good legacy.

This is specifically to the chairperson of the commission who constitutionally will not have an opportunity to oversee another election as he is only supposed to serve for 12 years and the appointment is not renewable, as per Section 90(5) of the Constitution of Eswatini. The time has finally arrived and the elections process has started but I am worried if the commission will be able to deliver free and fair elections to the nation. To ensure fair and free elections is one of the functions of the commission. The fairness is not only in the secondary elections but at any level of the elections according to Section 90(7) of the Constitution. One of the things to be done to guarantee free and fair elections is the registration of voters. I agree, therefore, with the provisions of the Constitution that the commission must oversee and supervise the registration of voters. Sub section 13 also provides that the commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority. So they have wide powers to make sure that they deliver on their mandate and cannot claim interference or sabotage.

So whatever goes wrong in the elections they will be to blame, fully. I am worried by early indications in the registration process and the statements we see in the media attributed to the commission and the commission not denying them or not saying or doing something to address the problems. There is an issue that concerns the KoNtshingila Chiefdom where there are already complaints on the registration process. If there are already complaints about the person to do the registration of the voters, does the commission expect a free and fair election? I do not think so but I may be wrong. Why not get a neutral person to do the registration than risking having an unfair election? We cannot blame the authorities of the area in this because the EBC is not subject to the control or influence of any person or authority in exercising its function, if we are to believe the Constitution. Why risk the integrity of the elections just for one family to be employed to do the registration? Is there something we do not know about the family like they are holding a qualification that they alone possess to do the registration? I am further worried because of their experience.

In the previous elections, the software that was used by the EBC encountered problems and I understand the country lost a fortune when acquiring such expensive malfunctioning software. This year the EBC requested huge amounts of money to get new software despite that the EBC did not use the other one. Even before registration began, there were already problems with the very software that was bought. Has the EBC again acquired software that will not serve the purpose? Why is the EBC busy buying software that is are not functioning? Is this a sign of another disaster? We know that our internet is not strong and we are to avoid software that will require the use of the internet or the internet is deliberately made weak to the detriment of emaSwati and will be strong when it is elections time? I also asked myself, did the EBC bother to sit down to analyse and try to correct the mistakes of the past or they never bothered themselves because emaSwati are generally soft people who will not cause any bloodshed even when the elections go horribly wrong?

This worries me because in the past we have heard complaints that people from different areas, especially around Matsapha, were transported to go and vote in other areas where they were not ordinarily residents of. A case I recall was one in Pigg’s Peak where there were rumours publicised that people were transported from Matsapha to vote in Pigg’s Peak. We have now read in newspapers that the same thing is happening and an elderly lady decided to raise the alarm. Is this something that should be happening at this day and age? I am of the opinion that this should have been taken care of by now because we have experienced it in the past. I do not want to waste time on the fallacy of not campaigning until people have been allowed to because we all know for a fact that people campaign way before they are nominated. I also feel that has to change because we then tend to elect people not knowing their ideas. I am really worried by the events of the time and wonder if they are indications of what to expect in the elections?

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