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Campaign called off as women fear arrest

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image A section of the women who attended the meeting that was abandoned at Ntondozi Umphakatsi.

MBABANE – A ‘vote for a woman’ campaign that was to be held at Ntondozi Umphakatsi had to be cancelled amid fears that those participating in it could be arrested.


The campaign, which was organised by members of the Lutsango women’s regiment under the Ntondozi Inkhundla, was scheduled for last week Friday morning.
Women from the area flocked to the umphakatsi in their numbers for the meeting which was to start at 9am but they waited until 11am when they were informed that the gathering would no longer proceed.


Lomasontfo Dlamini, the leader of the Lutsango from Ntondozi Royal Kraal, said they were warned by their superiors that the meeting would bring trouble because it was tantamount to campaigning.


“We were told that we should have called the meeting before nominations for the elections took place. The Manzini office of Lutsango told us that the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) had not yet announced that campaigning can now begin and therefore we would be arrested if the meeting proceeded.”


Dlamini said their intention was to mobilise women from Ntondozi to vote for those women who had entered the elections race so that they would have a female member of Parliament in the 2013-2018 august House.
“We were however, warned that we could be jailed or fined an amount of E5 000 if we continued with the meeting.”
She said they had tried to hold the meeting before the nominations took place on August 3 and 4 but, due to poor attendance, the gathering had to be called off.


dangers


“When we were told by our superiors about the dangers of the meeting, we also remembered having heard Chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission Chief Gija on radio saying campaigns were not yet allowed. That is why we saw the concerns to be genuine and cancelled the meeting.”
The Chief’s Runner (Umgijimi) under the Ntondozi Umphakatsi, who identified himself as Babe Mmema, was found sitting with the women after they had been told that the meeting should not happen.


“I am the one who was tasked with organising the meeting but when the women arrived at the umphakatsi, I got a call from the indvuna (headman) who told me that we had to cancel. I tried to get the reasons but was only told that the meeting should be stopped,” Mmema said and referred further inquiries to the headman.


However, the headman refused that the chief’s runner gives the Times team his mobile phone number so that he could be contacted.
“He (headman) says I should refer you to the leader of Lutsango. I cannot therefore go against his instructions and give you his number,” Mmema said.
During the 2008 elections, a countrywide ‘vote for a woman’ campaign was conducted but was deemed a failure after less than 30 per cent of those that participated made it to Parliament.


According to the country’s Constitution on Section 86(1) “Where at the first meeting of the House after any general election it appears that female members of Parliament will not constitute at least thirty percentage of the total membership of Parliament, then, and only then, the provisions of this section shall apply.”


The provisions are that “the House shall form itself into an electoral college and elect not more than four women on a regional basis to the House”.
Even though the 2008 elections resulted in less than 30 per cent of females MPs, this provision was not carried out and government cited lack of funds as the reason.

 

SWADEPA members monitored by state security

 

MBABANE – The Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) fears that some of their members who were nominated for the 2013 National General Elections are being monitored by state security.


As a result, the novice political party has elected not to publicise the full list of its members who made it through to the nomination and will contest in the primary elections to be held on August 24.
This was disclosed by the party’s Secretary General Archie Sayed who himself has been nominated at Bhunya under the Mhlambanyatsi Inkhundla.


SWADEPA President Jan Sithole – a long time critic of the kingdom’s Tinkhundla system of governance, has also joined the election race and was nominated under the Manzini North Inkhundla.
SWADEPA is one of two political parties that declared from the onset that it will partake in the national elections; the other party being the Sibahle Sinje Sive Siyinqaba.
Sibahle Sinje is one organisation that is seen as being pro-tinkhundla.
Members of Sibahle who are known to have made it through nominations are Sam Mkhombe, the former Private Secretary to His Majesty the King, and the popular Marwick Khumalo.


nominated


Mkhombe has been nominated at Sidvwashini under the Mbabane East Inkhundla while Khumalo, a member of Parliament for the past 15 years, has been nominated under Lobamba Lomdzala Inkhundla.
On SWADEPA’s fears, Sayed said the party had collectively taken the decision to protect its members from any possible harassment by State security forces.
“We cannot reveal the names of our members until further notice. This is for security reasons. We are being monitored. We have received reports from our members that they are being monitored by State security agents.”
Sayed said they were also wary of the newly-passed Elections Bills which he said were designed against the participation of political party members in the elections.


decision


“These Bills can be used against our members if government sees the need, so that has also contributed to our decision to withhold the identity of those of us that have been nominated.”
He did not spell out the clauses in the Bills which they feared could be unleashed against them.


In Swaziland, Constitutionally, the system of governance does not allow the participation of political parties in national elections.
The Constitution states:

“The system of government for Swaziland is a democratic, participatory, Tinkhundla-based system which emphasises devolution of state power from central government to Tinkhundla areas and individual merit as a basis for election or appointment to public office.”


Political organisations such as the Ngwane National Liberatory Congress, the banned duo of the People’s United Democratic Movement and the Swaziland Youth Congress have denounced the election process and said they would boycott the elections as long as they were held under the tinkhundla system of governance.


They are advocating for a multi party democracy.

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