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MBABANE – The addition of five more Tinkhundla Centres and subsequently four new Members of Parliament will cost the taxpayer about E2 million per annum.

Last week, the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) announced five new Tinkhundla Centres, the merging of Hlane and Dvokodvweni tinkhundla, and a clarification that there will now be 59 Tinkhundla Centres in the country.
This announcement was received in different ways by various sectors of society.

Based on calculations that each MP earns about E46 318, the taxpayer will folk out about E161 272 per month and E1 935 264 per annum to pay the four additional legislators.
This amount will add up to about E9 676 320 for their five-year term of office. The new Tinkhundla Centres are Nkomiyahlaba, Mashayekhatsi, Siphocosini, Phondo and Gilgal.

The announcement of the new tinkhundla comes at a time when government and Public Sector Associations (PSAs) still have unresolved issues over the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) which was never finalised last year.
The talks saw PSAs and government taking each other to court as government tabled a zero per cent offer while unions demanded 7.3 per cent COLA.

The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Secretary General, Zwelithini Mndzebele doubted that government budgeted for this additional cost.
Mndzebele said it was expected that government would attempt to play smart and say that it would be budgeted for in the 2018/2019 financial year, which starts in April. He was adamant that this was not budgeted for.
Mndzebele said this showed that government did not give priority to things that would benefit people.

He made an example of the education sector and said teachers were not hired in full, some were not paid the equivalent of their qualifications, while others were not housed like other government employees.
He said there were many problems that put them in compromising positions. He added that the decision by government was not informed as they had a lot of challenges in their sector.

When asked about whether they would raise this issue during the next cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) talks, Mndzebele said, “We are still considering the options we have before the end of March.”
The National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) Deputy General Secretary, Mabandla Dhladhla said he was not sure whether government had budgeted for the new tinkhundla Centres but said the decision to increase them spoke to the issue of prioritisation.

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