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CAN THEY HANDLE THIS?

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THE thrust for the upcoming elections is for each of us to give careful thought to where we are as a country, what needs to be done to transform it into a developed state and who, among us, is capable of carrying out this mammoth task most efficiently and effectively. 

For starters, it needs no rocket scientist to tell us that the new legislators will be spending a great deal of their induction period trying to find the cash for the salaries they need to earn while in office.

However, there is an equally important task of seeing to it that once these resources are found, they find properly managed institutions to utilise them prudently.
As it stands, there is plenty of trouble in paradise. Let’s take a jog around government and parastatal buildings just to get a glimpse of what is in store for those who are eagerly waiting to raise their hands as fit for public office.


Playing itself out like a soapie on television, is the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Eswatini Television Authority, which has led to the sacking of the Board chairperson. The public was expecting an announcement of a new CEO this week but this has been left in the hands of the board. So who will it be and when will we know? Hopefully this will be done before the minister leaves office because this power-play, wham bam in the middle of a Pay-your TV licence campaign, is counter-productive.


The ICT minister is also likely to leave office with the Swaziland Post and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) transformation process still hanging. This institution is admitted to the ICU where all the life support systems have literally been turned off, while its competitors enjoy full medical attention. Perhaps the new minister can provide some relief here before we witness a total collapse of the entity that will preoccupy the new minister with unnecessary baggage.


At the Tourism and Environment Ministry, the minister appears to be at loggerheads with the Board over the renewal of a contract or the hiring of the CEO at the Swaziland Environment Authority (SEA). Government has been challenged in court where it lost on the matter, leaving the new minister with a hot potato to deal with on day one, if left unresolved by the incumbent.


Within the same ministry, we have officers taking the minister to court over being overlooked for the Swaziland Tourism Authority CEO position, despite their vast experience and being favourably shortlisted for the position following a recruitment process by independent consultants.  The Public Works and Transport minister leaves behind a financially draining Central Transport Authority (CTA) which has to be ‘privatised’ into a Central Transport Organisation (CTO), as well as the mandate to turn the Royal Eswatini National Airways into a profit making entity against a backdrop of declining aviation profitability in the region and beyond. A tough ask.


At Finance, the immediate headache for the new minister is the clash between the Financial Service Regulatory Authority (FSRA) and the Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) over an intended investigation by the former into the operations of the latter that was stopped at the instruction of Public Service Minister Owen Nxumalo. However, following a workers protest that bruised a few following clashes with police, the minister is reported to have given a green-light to the probe but only if FSRA sticks to the letter of the law that governs its operations. The new minister is likely to find a report waiting on his desk and he can choose to either dump it in the cabinet of still-born inquiry reports or give it life.


Around the corner at the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ministry, the new minister is sure to be welcomed by a commission of inquiry into the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), (if it ever gets to see the light of day that is), as well as the task of normalising the unsettled Judiciary. The country had hoped it had seen the last of the turmoil in the Judiciary when former Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi left the country, but it certainly hadn’t bargained for the unfolding episode involving Judge Sipho Nkhosi and Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala.  Lawyers also have issues with both Justices and so does a registrar who remains suspended after challenging his transfer by the CJ.


Housing and Urban Development Minister Phiwayinkhosi Mabuza is set to leave office with a troubled Mbabane City Council, where some councillors are keen to see the back of its CEO, Gideon Mhlongo, but are failing to convince the minister on why they want him out. The minister is resolute, but will he return to maintain his stance or will a new broom sweep his decisions away in favour of change? At what cost to the taxpayer? The biggest challenge of all, no doubt, has to be normalising the wage bill much against the impending cost of living adjustment demand by public service workers. Who will have the guts to say NO and be bold enough to deal with the consequences?
These issues, and more, should provide the electorate with plenty food for thought on who can best handle all this. We can’t afford to be passive about issues affecting this country. As Charles F Ketting put it; “We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.”
 

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