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NKHABA – Nkhaba residents have jumped into the fray in calling for the dialogue before the national elections in order to first iron out differences.  

The residents said this during the civic voter education exercise yesterday held at Nkhaba Royal Kraal. The exercise was conducted by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) officials ahead of the national elections set for this year. This call by the Nkhaba residents was made parallel to a submission made at Fonteyn under Mbabane East Constituency, where Muzi Ngwenya questioned the EBC on how elections would be possible while the country was seemingly at ‘war’. Ngwenya said the country needed to dialogue first and resolve any differences before going into elections. He said he doubted if the elections would be peaceful, while there were issues left behind that were not addressed.


Ngwenya pleaded that should elections continue, chiefs should not intimidate the people and tell them whom to elect. This, he said, was done in one of the constituencies. Some Members of Parliament (MPs) also shared their views that the country should have the national dialogue prior to going to the polls. The same sentiments were shared in several occasions by pro-democracy formations, who opined that the country was not ready for the elections but the dialogue.  At Nkhaba, the EBC officials were led by Khombisile Dlamini, who is the commission’s Head of Secretariat. The officials arrived at the royal kraal before 10am, which was the time set for the start of the exercise. However, residents arrived a bit late  which resulted in the exercise starting at 11am.

Among those present was the chief of the area, Mnisi. Prior to the question and answer session, the EBC officials took the Nkhaba residents through the stages of the elections from the civic education, nominations, primary elections and lastly, secondary elections. The residents were also educated on who was eligible to vote, to be nominated and to be elected.
They then afforded them a chance to ask questions.  First to make a submission about the dialogue was Zwakele Mavuso, who opined that there were currently a lot of differences in views among the people countrywide. Mavuso was of the view that, in order to resolve those differences, there was a need for the dialogue. He mentioned that through the dialogue, people would be able to voice out their concerns and how they wished the country could be governed going forward.  It was further Mavuso’s view that the nation was not pleased with electing people who upon being elected to Parliament, failed to deliver.

He highlighted that the electorate in different parts of the country voted for people over and over again but in return they got poor service delivery. He said a majority of the youth was unemployed and had nothing to do to earn a living, hence they were bitter at the current government as they felt betrayed. Mavuso said all these challenges and others required the nation to sit down and find common ground. Samkeliso Hlatshwayo, on the other hand, submitted that after the electorate had elected their Members of Parliament (MP), the legislators should be allowed to work freely.  He said it was concerning that some MPs were arrested for allegedly voicing out what their electorate had sent them to say in Parliament.  Hlatshwayo said this led to other MPs being scared to speak out in the august House. He said all MPs should be allowed to do their work freely in order for the electorate to have confidence in them.

Another resident, Lwazi Dlamini, raised the question on the protection of candidates amid the ongoing calls for multiparty democracy. Lwazi said it was noted that there were those calling for multiparty democracy and those who were in support of the Tinkhundla System. He said candidates from both parties required protection ahead of the elections as it was noted that the differences might lead to others being attacked for voicing out their views.  Themba Dlamini asked the EBC officials on what was done to MPs who absented themselves from Parliament and missed other activities done in the House. He submitted that recently, it was reported about MPs who missed the official opening of the 5th session of the 11th Parliament. Another concern raised by the residents was about aspiring MPs who enticed the electorate with food parcels for their votes.

The residents said such tendencies resulted in them being deceived and voting for people who were not necessarily interested in serving the nation but their own interest, which included enriching themselves. The residents wondered what the EBC was doing as buying votes was not allowed. In response to the questions by the residents, the EBC head of secretariat said the calls for the dialogue were out of their jurisdiction. Khombisile said as the EBC, they were just doing their assignment which was to conduct elections as per the Constitution which provides that there should be elections every after five years. She said any other thing could happen as per the guidance of the country’s authorities but the elections should go ahead as this was the fifth year.

Khombisile said on the calls for multiparty democracy, as EBC they were non-partisan, but had to conduct the elections accordingly. She stated that, nonetheless, they encouraged tolerance as that was the foundation of democracy. She said having differing views, did not mean they should kill each other, but instead should bring their differences on the table in order to find common ground. On the issue of MPs who were not delivering as per their mandate, Khombisile highlighted that it was unfortunate that currently there was no law which empowered the electorate to recall the person they had elected.


Khombisile also emphasised that the EBC did not have powers over MPs and their duties. She said their duty as the EBC started and ended on the elections part. She said even if there was a vacancy of an MP in Parliament, as EBC they would receive a letter from the Speaker in the House of Assembly to fill that vacancy. The head of secretariat said as the EBC they would just do that right away without asking much questions as to how the vacancy came about. In an interview after the civic education at Nkhaba, Khombisile observed that the residents were mostly concerned about service delivery. She said such was a task for government to find ways as to how best service delivery could be improved. Khombisile noted that as the EBC officials, they were warmly welcomed by the Nkhaba Chiefdom and its residents. She noted that most residents did not ask questions around the election processes but they were on issues of service delivery and accountability of MPs.

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