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DIALOGUE IS THE SAFEST ROUTE TO TAKE

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Hypocrisy is the audacity to preach integrity from a den of corruption” - Wes Fesler, American baseball player, 1908-1989.


Subsequent to my last week’s article about despotic governments around the world, several readers responded, giving me feedback on the article.
One particular reader’s comments, made me ponder deeply and introspectively about how, for instance, some undemocratic governments, globally, are slaves to the scourge of corruption, which has significantly stunted any meaningful, economic, social growth and progress in such countries.


The reader wrote, quote: “I liked your article in today’s Times of Eswatini, Sunday newspaper, because it resonated with what I have been saying for years now, that it’s not the people who are the problem, but the operating systems of government!....”


It is no secret that corruption is prevalent mostly in undemocratic governments, globally, including those who superficially portray a democratic front, but in reality, depict an imperious, political system which has destroyed their economies and made life in general, particularly, a hell-ride for many of its citizens.
In a nutshell, the reader basically pointed that, ‘The notion that there is bona fide, good political leadership nicely tucked away somewhere, and just waiting to be discovered and save us from our political woes, is just wishful thinking. It is a good, collective, political environment which sustainably produces good m, political leaders, and not good political leaders who produce good, political environments...’


Interrogation


Well, the reader’s summation of political systems, certainly requires further interrogation, which I will take up in subsequent articles.
Today’s theme is about disturbing news carried by our media, concerning allegations made by a former, influential senator who held a powerful position in the previous, House of Senate.

Allegations he made are to the effect that some members of the House of Assembly demanded bribes as high as E10 000, in order to get that crucial vote that will enable aspiring and nominated Senate hopefuls, to fill a vacant seat formerly occupied by a senator who passed away.
Apparently, the former senator could not stoop so low and succumb to what appears to be extortion tactics - from people the nation holds in high esteem and reverence (?)...because they are responsible for the making of/passing laws, discussing public policy, deliberation on Bills, and most importantly, representing the interests of the electorate.


The former senator in question, had already allegedly written a letter addressed to the Returning Officer of the Elections Act, formerly withdrawing from the race. This is a very unusual but most moral step taken by someone who served with dignity a deeply entrenched system which rewards handsomely, it’s proponents. Bravo!


WORRYING


He allegedly went on to utter deeply worrying words to the effect that, “he observed a very disturbing practice that seemed to indicate that the election is open to the highest bidder...”
Well...if this alleged, immoral act of demanding ‘umdizo’ is not a typical, Mafioso extortion tactic, then I am at a loss of words of using any other fitting synonym that could aptly describe this dastardly act, allegedly credited to the not-so-honourable, members of such a supposedly, hallowed and respected institution. If true, I dare say, this is nothing but a blatant and hardcore corrupt act, deviously coated and clothed in legislative apparel.


Now, read this, as allegedly uttered by the concerned, former senator, “I am of the opinion that the election will consequently not be fair, just and in national interest. I therefore find myself with no option but to hereby respectfully withdraw my candidacy for the election of a senator,”


Exactly! Members of Parliament are supposed to win elections by popular vote, backed by integrity, honesty and a convincing manifesto which can sway voters hearts in their direction. Such infernal and cash-based demand of money as a prerequisite for one to get a vote after lobbying other MPs, is not only unethical but has an inherent danger and propensity to allow undeserving candidates to occupy revered seats in a respected institution like Senate.


Surprised


Are we then surprised by the these alleged, recent escapades credited to some of our MPs?  Personally, I subscribe to the notion of giving someone the benefit of the doubt until I get to know his or her background. Unfortunately, with some of the current crop of legislators, if one could  follow closely their tracks leading to the road to victory, kuvalwa emehlo.


Remember, how the road leading to election victory of some MPs, was allegedly tainted with bribery and corruption scandals? If my memory serves me well, during the primary, secondary and last stages of the election process, media accounts painted an election wrought with unethical, campaign strategies as well as cash bribes which allegedly ruled the roost. Some of those who were eventually elected, allegedly employed dirty tactics which eventually won them seats into the hallowed halls of the legislative houses.


Don’t get me wrong here, please. I am confident that it is not all MPs who are corrupt and I hope they do understand that once you occupy a position, serving in the public domain, you need to be wary and watch your steps; maintain your integrity, and be prepared to be painted with the same brush as the miscreants or villains, posing as legislators, who are susceptible to corrupt acts.


POWER


Now...the crunch question is: what is it with power that  corrupts the minds and hearts or whatever, of some of those occupying positions of power in this God-forsaken kingdom, kahle, kahle?  The country is progressing at a snail’s pace in terms of development, compared to neighbouring countries who attained self rule, years after us. Countries like Mozambique, which was embroiled in a civil war for decades, have taken huge and noticeable strides in development, since the end of their internal conflicts. Considering that we have passed the half-century mark since we attained self rule, our progress is not something to write home about, except on the corruption part, of which some in the power echelons, have become accomplished authorities and maestros.


Whichever way one may look at it, at the core and centre of our national woes and slow progress, lies the scourge of corruption - the political type, or grand corruption, which has stalled national development, and to a significant extent, also affected individual and community development, big time. Once a country is slave to, especially, the political type of corruption, which may take the form of bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, partisanship, patronage, influence peddling, graft, and embezzlement, then kiss goodbye to a country’s meaningful development.


In our case, the burning question is: Is it the people entrusted with power to lead the different sectors of governance, who are letting the country down, or is it the system itself that promotes corruption? Or, better (or worse?) still, is it the laxity of the checks and balances procedures, that are possibly as porous as a sieve, and are as dying to be manipulated as a sex worker?


CONFIDENT


Are those relentlessly and brazenly dipping their fingers into the cookie jar, confident that in the high echelons of power, there resides powerful cabals, willing to protect them, who themselves could be susceptible to the tentacles of corruption and would,at the drop of a hat, go out of their way to protect their proteges, in corrupt acts? In spite of recent declarations coming from senior and respected statesmen, to the effect that political parties will never rule this kingdom or something to that effect, if truth be told, people are tired of the present system of governance, which is tainted with susceptibility to corruption. If a skorokoro of a car persistently gives you mechanical problems, two things you can do: fix permanently the annoying, mechanical problems....or get rid of it and buy a new one.


A clarion call for change - any change - is mounting by the day from disgruntled citizens. People are tired of corruption, are gatvol of little or no progress in their lives and want relief. Remember the people of Sudan? Do we want to take that road or choose peaceful dialogue?


I am definitely for the latter, because, as I wrote in my last week’s article, change comes not on a silver platter. Violence and a huge casualty count, usually accompanies long-held-in-check, demands for change. In my opinion, dialogue is the safest route to take. But...will the rest settle for or choose that? It remains to be seen...but sadly, time waits for no man... Shalom!

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