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WHO WILL OVERHAUL GOVERNMENT ENGINE?

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Who will have the guts to put the brakes on government spending, which is now seriously out of control?

Our economy is hanging by a thread all thanks to the previous government that kept spending billions of Emalangeni on junk. The previous government just simply trashed the economy and walked out with fat exit packages, with some of them guaranteed salaries for life. How is it that the working class in Eswatini is taxed through the roof yet government fails to keep hospitals well-stocked with medication? Better yet, how do government ministries get to the point where they run out of toilet paper and print paper? If government runs out of simple stationery and toilet paper, how can we as a nation have confidence that our government can provide us real services to uplift the different sectors of the economy?

In the meantime, civil servants are threatening to go on strike left, right and centre until government meets their cost-of-living adjustment demands. That means people should just purge the health and education sectors from their memories and find alternative means to attend to their medical problems as well as find alternative means to educate their children. Without basic health and education, the country is going nowhere. This is bittersweet given that more than half of the money collected by the Eswatini Revenue Authority gets junked into the civil service wage bill. This is serious money that goes to salaries of people who come and go from their workstations as they please, accountable to the Ministry of Public Service that has no whip to make civil servants productive within their various job assignments.

Now we have an increasing number of parastatals that are, in principle, are supposed to increase efficiencies in government service delivery. Instead of improving efficiencies in the public sector, and the economy at large, being a parastatal in Eswatini has been equated to fat salaries for the executives who simply gauge even more money from the public purse.
Parastatal employees have become the elites of the public sector, yet on the ground, the standard of living in Eswatini is not improving in relation to the number of parastatals that keep cropping up every day. We have SWSC, EPTC, EEC, SCCOM, ESERA, SEDCO, EBC, MVA, SRA, FSRA,UNESWA, STVA, SWASA, NDMA, SNTC, STA, SWACAA, the list keeps going on and on. These parastatals have departments upon departments that have installed directors and senior managers who are just glorified officers who add no value or productivity to the public sector. Though some make their own money, government is expected to keep sending subventions to many of these parastatals.

On the ground, people cannot afford food, electricity and water. Accessing mobile phone services costs an arm and a leg, our public universities are in disrepair and the cost of having a transactional bank account in Eswatini is also ridiculous, yet all these parastatals are supposed to make the economy work and improve our lives. It’s all just money being allocated to junk. For instance, the biggest junk being spent on right now is the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC). The EBC has spent millions of Emalangeni on unnecessary rented vehicles granting its officers free transport to run their personal errands around the country. You find an EBC Toyota Quantum transporting one or two people on personal shopping sprees at The Gables in Ezulwini on a Sunday.

Life is good for these officers at the expense of the entire economy. It does not end there: the EBC has hired a whole lot of civil servants to do the work required at various polling stations across Eswatini. Why should teachers and the other notorious civil servants occupy these temporary EBC jobs when there are plenty of youth who are desperately unemployed in Eswatini? We have a lot of out-of-university students who should have been prioritised for these EBC jobs. We are not serious about spreading opportunities in Eswatini, and we’ve become experts in junking the country’s resources on a few greedy people who in turn grind the economy to a screeching halt. Government must simply close shop and let the rest of us get on with our lives and side businesses. We cannot keep doling out money to government when the very same government cannot even guarantee us toilet paper. Someone needs to overhaul this clogged-up and broken government engine!

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