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SIKHUPHE COMPENSATION: DID SELECT COMMITTEE BENEFIT? - MP

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MBABANE – The seven-member Parliament Select Committee assigned to address the Sikhuphe compensation impasse, has been put under the spotlight, with questions on whether they also financially benefitted.

This was raised in House of Assembly yesterday by Lobamba Member of Parliament (MP) Allen Stewart, who stood on a point of clarity, during the announcements made by the Speaker, Petros Mavimbela. He requested that the Speaker and other MPs assisted in clearing the air in as far as the Sikhuphe compensation exercise was concerned. According to the Lobamba MP, there was ongoing speculation, warranted by reports in print media, that the committee selected to address the issue of the compensation of the residents allegedly had their hands in the cookie jar, hence a report on the matter by them had not been tabled in Parliament. “There was never a report tabled by the select committee which further fuels the rumours that this committee benefitted somehow, hence they did not report on the ongoing compensation process at Sikhuphe,” the MP highlighted.

He said there was a need for clarity so as to put the nation at ease regarding the matter. This was not the first time the issue of the select committee was raised in the House of Assembly, as it had previously been questioned by some members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) during the appearance of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development. Some of the PAC members indicated that the select committee was formed without any votes of selection, however, they simply noted through the media that a committee of this nature had been selected to address and deal with the compensation exercise.

A recent report in this publication stated that over 40 ‘ghost households’ allegedly benefitted from the E20 million disbursed by government in the compensation exercise. These 41 households allegedly included undeserving individuals who were not supposed to benefit from the compensation payout, while in some instances, the funds were inflated. It was further reported that in one of the alleged corrupt payouts, an owner of a stick-and-mud house was paid E400 000 yet other houses got far less. The seven-member committee the Lobamba MP, Stewart, is referring to includes Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo, MP Strydom Mpanza, and Speaker in the House of Assembly Petros Mavimbela, Ndzingeni MP Lutfo Dlamini, Manzini South MP Thandi Nxumalo, MP Kenneth Fakudze and Dvokodvweni MP Mduduzi Magagula.

Worth noting is that the seven-member Parliament Select Committee headed by Lobamba Lomdzala MP Khumalo met the residents at the campsite situated just about 200m from the quarry mine’s fence a couple of months ago to solve the compensation impasse. The Speaker, responding to Lobamba MP’s point of clarity, said the report would be tabled by the committee. The compensation is due to the residents of Sikhuphe after the blasting of a rock at the quarry mine by the contractor on site, resulted in the cracking of walls of houses in the surrounding areas.

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