JAN YOU COWARD -MINISTER
...Dares him to resign if he feels Tinkhundla has failed
Minister of Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Dumisani Ndlangamandla has dared Manzini North Member of Parliament (MP) Jan Sithole to resign as an MP if he feels the Tinkhundla system of governance is not working for the country.
This comes following reports that Sithole, the Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) President, stated sometime in mid-April that the Tinkhundla system of governance had failed the country. Speaking during Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s memorial service, Sithole said the Tinkhundla system of governance was introduced by King Sobhuza II as an experiment and it was clear that it had failed. He said, therefore, the nation could not continue to harness a system that was not working.
He said as SWADEPA, they were calling for a national political dialogue where a way forward would be discussed.
Sithole said the system had failed because it could not provide scholarships, grants for the disabled, to improve road infrastructure and to give proper grants for the elderly.
He pointed out that this had even led to people living next to the borderline going to South Africa to earn a living there, which he called stealing from the South African economy.
He called upon South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to unite this country, noting that one could not be happy while his neighbour is suffering.
He said this was what resulted to people leaving Swaziland to steal from the economy of South Africa.
However, the hot-under-the-collar minister of ICT, who doubles as Ngudzeni MP, minced no words stating that since Sithole is an MP and is a product of the system in his position as an MP, he should resign if he feels the system that put him where he is at the moment is not working.
With gloves clearly off, the minister stated that if there was anyone who felt that the Tinkhundla system had failed, then it was them who had failed.
“If someone says the Tinkhundla system has failed, but still remains in Parliament then it doesn’t make any sense. Why doesn’t he resign? He gets a salary from the very same Tinkhundla system that he now claims is not working. We cannot stand this in Parliament and allow people like him to speak anyhow about the system.
This just should not be allowed. I will not hide in Parliament when speaking such truths, but will come out in the open so that anyone who feels I am wrong can challenge me. If I am challenged I will stand by this truth. As for him he is proving to be a coward and should just resign,” he stated.
The minister went on to confess that he is a staunch supporter of the Tinkhundla system, supports it fully and benefits from it.
Minister Ndlangamandla is not the first one to publicly attack Sithole following his utterances as after the reports that were attributed to him, Government Press Secretary Percy Simelane in a statement told the MP that the Tinkhundla system of governance was no political piracy as it was in place because the people of Eswatini had many a time freely submitted their support to its continuity. He stated that it had been reviewed, tried and tested since its conception 63 years ago.
Simelane, in his statement, added that the highest decision making Sibaya, authority in the land, had consistently endorsed the system and it had been periodically strengthened over the years.
“In accordance with the principles of true democracy, no lone political wolf can change this. We want to believe Mr Sithole was voted into Parliament by people who believe in the system so it would be a fallacy for him to then turn around and kick them in the mouth.
“We view Mr Sithole’s submission that a Head of State from a neighbouring country must come and whip leadership into line as single-handedly passing a vote of no confidence on His Majesty the King and Ingwenyama, the Head of State. The King shall always be open to international advice but not orders,” argued Simelane.
Simelane said democracy is about a people defining their destiny and not about other nations shouting orders. He said Swaziland is a sovereign state and its destiny is in the hands of its people and not at the mercy of lone political wolfs operating like jukeboxes. “The Swazi Nation has put together one of the best constitutions in the world according to seasoned judges around the world, including justices from Mauritius and South Africa. The way the nation goes to parliamentary elections in this country is constitutional as attested to by the last party of international elections observers only five years ago,” further read his statement.
He said social grants shall always be determined by the size of the economy at a point in time and laid down rules and regulations to ensure continuity. He said that there are no scholarships is a fallacy of the first order.
Simelane added that the State continues to grant scholarships to thousands of deserving tertiary education applicants every year despite its economic challenges at a time when a majority of countries in the region and abroad do not. He said the state funds Free Primary Education (FPE) and subsidises stable food, medication and fuel, among other services to the people.
Efforts to obtain comments from Sithole proved futile at the time of going to press yesterday as his mobile phone was not available on the network for the better part of last evening.
However, when responding to Simelane, Sithole highlighted that each time Parliament carried its oversight role or government challenged the issue at hand it is not addressed but rather the King’s name is abused, especially by Cabinet. This was when he was asked to state his position regarding the statement made by Simelane who suggested that by saying the Tinkhundla system of governance has failed the Swazi people, he was passing a vote of no confidence on His Majesty the King.
Sithole said if his silence was not going to be misinterpreted as conceding to the allegations, he was not going to respond.
“In fact, a naive assertion such as the one that government has uttered through Percy, under normal circumstances did not deserve the honour of being responded to, but silence would be misconstrued as conceding to the unfounded allegations.
That’s why I will not be silent when a deliberate smear campaign is meted against me,” he said in an interview with our sister paper, the Sunday Observer.
“Now I know that the arm of government we are talking about is the Cabinet. I am, therefore, not surprised at this desperation because since this tenth Parliament continued to be vocal and upped their oversight role, whenever pressurised on lack of service delivery, Cabinet would drag the name of the King to spin doctor and stifle Parliament function,” Sithole added.
The MP, listed several cases which he said were examples of incidences where the King’s name was dragged into the mud and facts being twisted or overlooked.
The first incident that he cited was when MP Phila Buthelezi from Matsanjeni North, reiterated a view Sibaya, that was expressed at in saying in future there should be a consideration that the King appoints a prime minister from the elected parliamentarians.
“This honest opinion which was not Sibaya, frowned at was reconfigured by government to the public and their Majesties to say that MP Phila and (“Banyikitise Parliament were subversive tinsika tebukhosi”).
This is a serious malicious mistruth. When MP Sikhumbuzo Dlamini from Nkwene raised abuse of power on statements that were issued at Sigwe and other abuse of power by government, it was said he threatened to kill the prime minister,” he said.
“It is true that people living with disabilities have no structured grants. It is true that when SADC intervenes in a political dialogue in SADC countries it is neither interfering nor passing a vote of confidence to the leadership of those countries,” he said.
Sithole maintains that there is a service delivery deficit within the system of governance.
He said it is true that there is gross deficit of service delivery in the country and government is responsible for that and he provided statistics.
“It is true that we have high unemployment which is of over 27 per cent, we have over 64 per cent people earning below poverty datum line. UNISWA tertiary students had a 60 per cent cut on their allowances.”
Minister of Information, Communications and Technology Dumisani Ndlangamandla and Manzini North Member of Parliament Jan Sithole.