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MBABANE – What is believed to have been a quiz or exercise for purposes of creating profiles for legislators has seen MP Nomalungelo LaZwide Simelane declaring that her mandate is to lobby her colleagues in Parliament to push for an all-inclusive dialogue.

This happened on Friday, which was the last day of the induction for the members of the 12th Parliament. Having participated in different sessions of empowerment for a whole week, the legislators summed up the induction by responding to some questions, which came in a quiz format, whereby they had to provide information about themselves. This information they had to provide by filling up a form which had the title ‘Legislators Booklet Questionnaire’ and contained about six questions. Just like in an examination room, the forms were circulated and placed like question papers on the tables, where the legislators were sitting, just before the last session ended on Friday.

proper profiles

As the forms were circulated, some of the legislators enquired what they were all about and clarity was provided by Clerk to Parliament Benedict Xaba, who said the aim was to create proper profiles for them. “As legislators, you will be invited to conferences and big events. This information will make sense in that when you go there, the people already know who you are and how you look like,” Xaba said. A leaked one which is believed to have been filled by the Siphofaneni Member of Parliament (MP) reflects how she purportedly responded to the questions, including one which sought to ascertain what she believed was the mandate she was elected for. Following the leakage of the form containing responses, this reporter contacted the MP to ascertain if she was familiar with all the information or content written and she responded to the affirmative. Simelane first asked to know how this reporter laid her hands on the form. She mentioned, however, that despite that she was surprised, she had no problem with her constituency knowing what she had written, as she believed that it would, in the end, be made public.

Parliament property

She then asked not to say much about the responses, as she was of the view that the form was Parliament property until it is made public. In her response, she stated that her constituency remained devastated after the unfortunate upheavals of June 2021, whereby people had gone to deliver petitions at their tinkhundla. “They were met with gunshots that resulted in some dying while others are crippled for life. As I went about during the campaign period, I was asked what I would do to see that there is justice for the people who were shot to death, maimed for life both in Siphofaneni and countrywide leading to the massacre of June 29, 2021,” Simelane wrote on the form. She added that the people felt strongly that their MP for the 11th Parliament, her husband Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ went into exile while his colleagues Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube were jailed. Expanding on the response, Simelane said the people of Siphofaneni  openly called upon the need to respond to the petition delivery and needed clear answers as the petitions did not only include issues of national interest, but Siphofaneni specific service delivery bottlenecks that need to be addressed.

all-inclusive dialogue

“It is, therefore, my primary mandate that the legislators influence the government to consider an all-inclusive dialogue with the sole purpose of nation building. The people who lost their loved ones during the unrest must be compensated together with the maimed, the incarcerated MPs be released together with all politically-charged individuals and the exiled MP and all other exile return home where we can all sit down and map a way forward,” reads part of the response. The declaration of the MP’s primary mandate being to lobby legislators to influence a consideration for an all-inclusive dialogue comes at a time when government stated in no uncertain terms that the recently held Sibaya concluded the dialogue. In our publication last month, both the Kings Office Communication Director Percy Simelane and Government Spokesperson Alpheous Nxumalo, were quoted saying they did not think that at this stage there would be another dialogue as envisaged by Southern African Development Community (SADC).

This publication had sought to ascertain the recently concluded Sibaya was part of the process of dialogue that was proposed by the SADC to solve the country’s political impasse. Meanwhile, it was not possible to ascertain from LaZwide, how she was going to go about her so-called mandate of lobbying her colleagues. This is because she stated that she could not discuss the contents of the form save to confirm that all that was written was exactly how she had put it. Expanding in her responses on the form, LaZwide said another issue that the people of her constituency were passionate about was the legislation that regulates game rangers. She wrote in the form that the electorate mandated her to work with other legislators to see if there could be amendments to the current law, that they believe seeks to degenerate human life to that lesser than an animal. “While protecting wildlife, we must be seen to be protecting human life too. In essence, the people of Siphofaneni have mandated their member of parliament to influence laws and policies that restore the dignity and preciousness of human life,” she wrote.

role as a legislator

Another question she provided a response to, according to the leaked form, was on what she understood to be her role as a legislator. To this, she responded by saying it was not only her honest opinion, but an ideal one, that as a parliamentarian she had come to represent the aspirations, views, feelings, emotions and dreams of the people of Siphofaneni, the people who elected her. She said she would achieve such through collaborations with other legislators, in influencing laws and policies that will fulfill improved quality of the people’s lives, while at the same time exercising the role of being a watchdog or oversight to the executive and the legislature. Another question posed to the legislators, which LaZwide responded was on what the country was likely to benefit from them in the five years in office. Simelane responded by saying she was a natural peacemaker and not only a peacekeeper.

unjustly treated

“I will do all in my power to facilitate peace-making between the people who feel they were unjustly treated in June 2021 and the State. Peace making demands standing for the truth within the confines of the law until both parties accept responsibility to restore peace. It is only when there is peace that there could be progress. For the people of Siphofaneni and the country, I promise that by the end of this term, I would have worked hard for peace and progress, she said. Lastly, Simelane provided a response to a question on the service delivery that her constituency should expect from her.

service delivery goals

She responded by saying that together with the indvuna yenkhundla, bucopho, and other strategic social and economic development stakeholders they have prioritised a variety of things as key service delivery goals. Efforts to get more clarity from Xaba were not successful as his cellphone number rang unanswered yesterday. Meanwhile, an MP who spoke on condition of anonymity said there was nothing wrong with the form and responses being made public.

sent us to do

“In my view, the responses we provided will allow the electorate to see if we will do exactly what they sent us to do. During our campaigns, we made a lot of promises and the people want assurance that we will deliver,” the MP said. However, a former legislator said in his view, the questions were aimed at assessing if the mindsets of the legislators had changed after they had undergone the weeklong induction.

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