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MP’S MOTION ON SWEET STATUS STOPPED

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MANZINI - An MP who tried to move a motion about the status of SWEET was allegedly told to stop because ‘utsintsa sikhehle sabomanyovu’ (inviting trouble) and that the matter involved labadzala.

This is according to a report which was delivered by Mkhiweni Member of Parliament (MP) Michael ‘Ndlelayekuphila’ Masuku to members of the Swaziland Women Economic Empowerment Trust (SWEET) from his constituency. The MP met with the members of the organisation last Tuesday and he was giving them feedback as they had given him a task to take the matter regarding their investment in SWEET to Parliament in 2020. The organisation’s offices are in Manzini and they are currently closed.

SWEET Microfinance (PTY) LTD was established in April 2015, registered under certificate of incorporation No. 2235/2014. It is a company under SWEET, whose Patron is Her Majesty the Queen Mother. It was established as one of the national economic empowerment initiatives that emanated from the Eswatini Women’s Decade Plan of Action of 2010. The members of SWEET had been demanding that the people responsible for taking their monies should be taken to task and their monies be returned, but in vain. It is said that some members from Mkhiweni Inkhundla had invested over E5 000 each.

Meeting

During their meeting, the MP told the members that he registered the matter in Parliament and when he told his colleagues about it, most of them, if not all, shouted ‘elethu’ as they vowed to support it. He said the MPs mentioned that the issue of SWEET affected all of them because some women in their constituencies were members and they wanted their monies back. Furthermore, according to the parliamentarian, the MPs allegedly said after the outbreak of COVID-19, the affected women were unable to buy smartphones for their school-going children to be able to pursue their studies online as most schools adopted online teaching and learning.

He said according to the MPs, the women said with the money they had invested in SWEET, they could be able to buy the cellphones and even laptops for their children and feed their families during such trying times, where the economies of the world, including the Kingdom of Eswatini, were hit hard by the effects of the pandemic. He told the affected women that when registering the matter in Parliament, he followed the laid down procedures as after talking to MPs, who supported him, he got a seconder of the motion, Madlangemphisi MP Sibusiso ‘Scorpion’ Nxumalo. As a result, he said the motion was included in Notice Paper No. 3/2020 which was issued and it had notices which were handed in up to October 28, 2020 and it was under private members motions.

According to the notice paper, the mover was MP Masuku and was to be seconded by MP Nxumalo. The motion, as written in the notice paper, reads: “To move that the Minister for Finance (Neal Rijkenberg) should, within 30 days of passing of this motion, table a report on the status of the Swaziland (Eswatini) Women Economic Empowerment Trust (SWEET).” Thereafter, the MP said upon seeing that the matter had been included in the notice paper, he prepared some notes and evidence which would prove that the women under whose instruction he was working, invested in SWEET.

However, he said as time went by, the matter was not included in the order paper and when he asked around what could have happened, he alleged that some of the people he consulted allegedly suggested that he withdraws the matter because he was inviting trouble. He alleged that they said (in vernacular); “Lolokutsintsako mhlonishwa utsintsa sikhehle sabomanyovu).” However, he said he told them that he would not withdraw the matter because he was not going to talk about Their Majesties, but he wanted the managers, who were working at SWEET offices, to respond because they were the ones who received and managed the people’s monies.

Project

He said he believed that when Their Majesties pioneer a project, they put in place managers and they were the ones who should be held accountable and be put behind bars if need be. The MP added that he believed that Their Majesties could not take people’s monies because they always dreamt to see emaSwati living better lives. Thereafter, he told the aggrieved members of SWEET that he then approached the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Petros Mavimbela, and enquired why the matter was not included in the order paper. He claimed that he also told the Speaker that he believed that some people (women) from his constituency (Mhlambanyatsi) were also affected. He alleged that the Speaker told him that the matter was a difficult one.

Thereafter, he claimed that he approached the Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg, who also did not give a convincing report or feedback on the matter. The MP said another person informed him that the matter involved the authorities. “Lena ithinta bantu abadala,” the MP said he was told in vernacular. Therefore, he told the members of SWEET that he was in a dilemma on what to do next, thus he came back to them to report about the difficulties he faced while pursuing their matter. He said he was ready to pull out and they could explore other options to tackle the matter. He said he was worried when he saw the matter about SWEET being discussed on social media platforms by some political activists, who were of the notion that the Queen Mother allegedly took the money that was invested by the members of the organisation.  He said he was worried because he believed that the matter had nothing to with Their Majesties, but the managers.

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