Times of Eswatini
2023 elections a distraction – MSF
MBABANE – The Multi-Stakeholder Forum (MSF) has called for cancellation of the 2023 national election process. Speaking through its Chairman Thulani Maseko, the organisation said the 2023 elections were going to disturb the ushering of a new political dispensation in the country. Maseko said his organisation was not in support of the election because they were happening under the current Tinkhundla System of Governance.
He challenged government to prioritise the national dialogue and civic engagement ahead of the elections. Maseko said it was important to start the process of the dialogue, so that when the time for the election of government into office came, the process could be democratic. He stated that his organisation believed that the current system was not in a position to deliver a free and fair election. He said the political outcry was a major cause for concern since the major demand of the people had a direct impact to the election process. He said MSF viewed the current by-elections process as a waste of time and they were strongly opposed to it. He said they believe that the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), was using the by-elections as a yardstick to measure the participation and desire from emaSwati.
Maseko said his organisation still believed that the dialogue process would level the ground and be a catalyst to deliver a democratic election process that was approved by the people of Eswatini. “At MSF we insist on the dialogue as the best possible way to resort the current political impasse. We can never think of any other way, it is not possible. Probably Vatican politicians can come up with any other way of attaining democracy but for us, we think and believe that it can only be achieved through a genuine political dialogue and civic engagement. We do not subscribe to the notion and idea of participating in tinkhundla election. In our view tinkhundla elections will not deliver genuine democracy for the country,” said Maseko
He said his organisation was resolute in its decision not to collaborate with the current system of governance through an election process. He said the election process would be flawed if the current Members of Parliament (MPs) remained in jail, yet their charges had political elements. He pointed out that the issue of the incarcerated MPs and those that were in exile could only be addressed through a genuine and meaningful dialogue process, not by replacing them with new MPs. “No elections can be credible when political leaders Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube are in jail, and we know for they have committed no crime. No election can be credible when political leaders are in exile. No elections can be credible in the absence of free political activity where political leaders of all political parties can interact with the people freely. Indeed, no elections can be legitimate when political parties remain banned and prohibited by law from engaging with the political discourse. That is the reason we remain resolute that we cannot collaborate with the Tinkhundla system in its unfair elections to shift the narrative from dialogue and negotiations to illegitimate selections,” he pointed out.
Hosea MP Mabuza and Ngwempisi MP Dube are currently fighting terrorism and murder charges emanating from the June 2021 political unrest where people died and some lost their limbs during sporadic protests around the country. The two MPs were charged together with former Siphofaneni MP Mduduzi ‘Gawuzela’ Simelane for allegedly inciting the people to revolt against a constitutional government. The EBC is currently undergoing a by-elections process in Siphofaneni to replace Simelane who was eventually ousted in Parliament for failing to attend to duties of the House.
Maseko said his organisation was calling for a free, fair, legitimate and credible election that would comply with the SADC sub-regional, African Union (AU) regional and United Nations (UN) international standards governing democratic elections. He said any election under the current system of governance was a direct opposite of the values of democratic governance.
EBC Communication Officer, Mbonisi Bhembe, was not available when called for a comment yesterday morning. However, Bhembe mentioned at the beginning of the current by-elections that the process was a free and fair process and the Commission was hoping to improve in the upcoming 2023 national elections.