...My hon­est Plea to this new Gov­ern­ment

Sunday Observer - - FEATURES - By Com­fort Mabuza

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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