SET NATIONAL PRIORITIES MATTERS ACCORDINGLY
...My honest Plea to this new Government
So we have new ministers of the Crown that have been since resumed their duties.
The first critical test is what should be their agenda for the next five years? Well, congratulations to you you all honourable ministers of the crown, and it is now business unusual now that you must hit the road running. Some of you come into this national assignment armed with a wealth of experience, having led in some corporate world with distinction.
I do not want to name them, but certainly those armed with a good track record from the entities they were running, could you please surprise us by invoking professionalism and delivery in this docile state we are in as a country?
We salute some of them for having accumulated so much needed experience after serving with distinction and honour. But let us sternly warn you, public office is another ball game altogether. You will be measured by delivery on set goals and objectives, and this begins with bringing desired change and transform in each given portfolio.
Dare one say, if corporate performance systems are anything to learn from, then it’s about delivery honourable ministers. If you dismally fail to deliver, then your names will be in bad books of the members of the public and you shall go into annals of history as having failed and a huge embarrassment. Let me highlight issues that I personally feel are critical and needing a collective response as you serve as a team to address and pull us out from this dark hole we are in right now as a country.
DECLARING YOUR INTERESTS
First things first, each of the Crown must dully declare their interests. It is imperative that those who hold public office are ethical lot, who declare even declare assets and interests for the sake of being transparent as part of enhancing best praises in as far as democratic ideals and good government are concerned. There should be a record book at Cabinet offices, where all assets of each individual minister are known.
The record would assist us in becomi ng aware of their value. This is aimed at avoiding suspicions where they can get rich overnight because of private deals and unethical behaviour.
In matured democracies the world over, politicians who serve at this level declare their interests before assuming office. If we will ever be seen to be fighting corruption, then let all ministers of the crown declare their assets and what they are worth. This is what it takes to be a trusted leader and hold a public office in this time and age.
STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS
If this new Cabinet will ever be taken seriously and remembered to have risen to the challenges we have, attempts should be made to invigorate strategic interventions and identification of key priority areas needing urgent attention without delay. A strategic plan process that will give the Executive a sense of direction and purpose is more desirable.
Running government needs resolved minds that will employ best practises world over that will ensure delivery of basic services which is part of an effective and innovative leadership. Forget about those who will think it is business as usual, but crown yourselves a favour and craft a national strategy after evaluating al other national strategies ever developed by the previous regime. Each line ministry must have priorities and set a programme of action on how those will be implemented and evaluated as part of its mandate. We cannot afford to run government like Spaza shop. Serving at this level is being in the engine and feeling the heartbeat of the nation, it therefore becomes imperative that each line mini stry evaluates its mandate and come out with innovative strategic interventions that will attempt to address national challenges.
This country cannot afford to have an executive that is clueless and poorly coordinated to deliver on an agreed mandate. The sooner this is done, the better, because we would have set national goals and objectives aimed at making Eswatini become the ‘first world” country in 2022.
SOME PUBLIC ENTERPRISES THAT ARE A DRAIN
So we are we are considering a national airline, when we know it was a big flop before. Are we not becoming a laughing stock, to go yet again for an experiment that we all know could not add value before and what has since changed, hey? Well, the reality facing us all is that our economy, as we currently stand, does not inspire hope as it does not look good.
Government must as a matter of urgency seek to urgently address public enterprises that have proven to be a disaster of the highest order. Nothing will give confidence than to embark on a conscious restructuring of those that are not performing and delivering currently. Government seems to have its priorities mixed up. Anything that is considered a drain and cannot add value, it is perhaps opportune time that the Executive seriously gives it attention and get experts for a turnaround strategy. A list of all nonperforming public enterprises should be known. If they have Executive Boards, then let us hope government will demand each entity to come out with its own turnaround strategy how they could be profitable. Without even listing poor performing enterprises, all we are saying is deal with nonperforming ones urgently.
One hopes that each entity will be expected to go for a strategic planning and critically evaluate itself so that they become profitable. Failing which, we will continue wasting the national treasury on sustaining this economic drain. If Eswatini is to become an economic hub and best performing nation in the region, then let us do the honest thing about non-performing entities and do away with them if there is hope for them to be viable. Cabinet should listen to the voice of reason and save us from the continued embarrassing economic disaster we are in.
INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOP MENT
This nation is blessed with natural resources that are never harnessed to ensure we have a self-sustaining economy. At the heart of this issue is the continued failure to invest in infrastructure development.
We need to access clean running water as we are blessed with rivers that daily flow to the sea, and at times there are no clear plans in place on how water harvesting could be undertaken with the view of improving sustainable agriculture. I still cannot understand why we always speak development, when critical things like roads networks, and telecommunications are continually maintained as part of ensuring we become a country of choice, wherein any investor will want to come and invest to improve the ailing economy. It is all about ensuring that the nation is able to compete regionally and internationally. We cannot be forever depended on South Africa even for things that we could produce locally. All these can only be realised with a clear roadmap of infrastructure development.
GET THE NATION TO TALK
Government must encourage citizens participation and engagement on any salient national interests matters.
It becomes quite disturbing that citizens made to feel their voices do not matter. Labelling people as enemies of peace without affording them an opportunity to be heard is cowardice from the Executive and Legislature. I am quite aware that Tinkhundla government system as a national political order, seems to be closed to criticism and public scrutiny. Ideally, let people’s voices be heard, whether be they viewed as pressure groups or political formations, Executive must ensure freedom of expression thrives and guaranteed as it is the oxygen of a free society.
One issue that we always avoid, is allowing people to organise themselves into some formations and engage government, as well as ensuring that platforms are availed for robust debates on national challenges on any given issue. Nation building process is made easy when people’s voices are not suppressed and muzzled. Any political order or system that does not allow dissenting views cannot be deemed viable in this time and age.
It is desirable to ensure citizens participation without being viewed anti-Swazi or against the status quo. It is high time we listen to dissenting voices and afford them a platform to freely express themselves and make their voices heard on pressing national issues.
Treating governance as a ‘holy’ cow that cannot be engaged is against the spirit of buntfu and nation building exercise.