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Once again, MPs have been caught sleeping on the job. How can the Decentralisation Bill, which was first initiated during the 8th Parliament, take over decade to see the light of day? Why are the members of the 11th Parliament pussyfooting on the second highest piece of legislation after the Constitution of 2005.

Just to put you up to speed Madam Editor; decentralisation is entrenched in the country’s Constitution as the basis of the Tinkhundla-based System of Government, whose  primary objective is to bring government closer to the people so that the people at sub-national or local community level progressively take control of their own affairs and govern themselves. It is a global agenda which has been effectively used as a political power sharing people empowerment tool to enhance the participation of all the people in a country in both political and socio-economic development processes and activities.

This is the Bill which is supposed to promote transparency and increase public accountability; voice and participation in the development of public policies and monitoring of the quality of public services, the overall goal being to attain sustainable local governance and development, high levels of efficiency, high quality of life as well as equity and effectiveness in the delivery of public services.

My main gripe madam Editor is on the overdue improvement in service delivery. The more financial resources become limited, the higher the need to adopt a decentralised approach to tackle these economic and societal challenges. Amid the rising cost of fuel prices and the recent hike in bus fares, emaSwati cannot afford to part with a hard earned E50 to go to Mbabane or Manzini just for basic services such as the issuing of birth, marriages and death certificates, national identity cards, immigration services, basic health services, stamps or signatures of the Commissioner of Oaths, revenue services and social welfare.

Why should gogo travel all the way from Maphalaleni to Mbabane for basic social services after irresponsible parents have dumped her grandchildren on her lap? Why should citizens go all the way to Manzini for passports? We are sick and tired of standing in long super spreader queues just to get identity documents only to be turned back to come back the next day, depleting the little hard-earned cash we have on unnecessary bus fares.
Why should gogo travel all the way from Dlangeni to Mbabane just to get a signature from the Commisioner of Oaths or a revenue stamp for her grandchildren to access free primary education.

As for the hypocritical concerns on budget implications of the implementation of the Decentralisation Bill, I says budget my foot! Whose money are MPs concerned about? Is it not the very same taxpayer who has been sold a dummy for a whole decade that is footing the bill for overdue service delivery? Some have been advocating for the use of tinkhundla as venues for the much anticipated national dialogue. What have they done to rebuild the tinkhundla centres which were torched and reduced to ugly ruins by faceless comrades who were incited by the incompetency of the very same Tinkhundla System of Governance?

It seems foreigners have overtaken emaSwati in this decentralisation concept. The Chinese have taken electricity into rural areas and the Asians have taken grocery shops and mobile money outlets closer to the people. We don’t need enemies of tinkhundla in this our tinkhundla–elected Parliament.  Push the Bill Mr Deputy Prime Minister. Crack the whip Mr Speaker!

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