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LOBAMBA – Commotion almost erupted as police officers blocked leaders of civil society groups, community based organisations and political parties from delivering their petition to Parliament yesterday.

The petition had a clear message to the Members of Parliament (MPs); ‘citsani le budget ya 2018/19 ngelifasitelo or else nalo lilahle emhlane wenu (reject the national budget of 2018/19 or else woe unto you).

The initial plan was that the organisation’s leaders would march from Somhlolo National Stadium to the Parliament gate where they would hand over the petition to Clerk to Parliament Ndvuna Dlamini.

However, it was eventually delivered to the clerk’s representative at the traffic circle leading to Parliament after the police blocked them.

About 100 leaders of the organisations, which were organised under the banner of the Swaziland Economic Justice Network (SEJUN), assembled at Somhlolo National Stadium yesterday at around 11am with the intention of marching to Parliament to deliver their petition.
However, upon arrival at the venue, they found that about 30 police officers had already been deployed, some of whom were diverting traffic from the main road to use the one going behind Somhlolo National Stadium.

Later on, some senior officers convened a short meeting with the coordinators of the march where they were given two options of delivering the petition. The first one was that they select a 10-member committee that would go to deliver the petition while the rest of them waited outside just before the traffic circle.

The other option was to call upon the representative of the clerk to come and receive the letter near the traffic circle.
The main reason of not allowing the rest of the leaders of the organisations to march to Parliament was that they would disturb Labadzala. On the other hand, the participants argued that they had a right to witness the petition delivery.

Again, they argued that they did not prefer to deliver the petition outside Parliament premises (esigangeni) because there would be no proof that they went to Parliament as the recipient could deny it.

Therefore, the participants resolved to march and force the police out of their way to deliver the petition.


However, immediately when they got into the road towards the traffic circle, the police, who were mostly armed with batons, formed a line across the road while those carrying guns watched from a distance.

The participants tried to divert from the main road and marched across the traffic circle but more police officers joined their colleagues to extend the barrier. Thereafter, the participants sang provocative political songs while dancing and toyi- toying in front of police officers.

After they were satisfied that they had successfully blocked the marchers, the police then introduced the representative of the clerk who received the petition from SEJUN Coordinator Jerome Shongwe and Chairperson Bonginkhosi Ntshangase. The recipient of the petition, who was identified as Ngcamphalala, promised to deliver it to the rightful office.

He also promised them that the issues would be addressed and they would be given feedback in due course.
Meanwhile, Ntshangase emphasised that the MPs should reject the budget which was tabled by the Minister of Finance, Martin Dlamini, and put in place a people’s budget that would ensure inclusivity, transparency and participation.

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