The non- pay­ment of new el­derly peo­ple and the nonac­ces­si­bil­ity of Pha­lala Fund are two is­sues that cre­ated an im­passe be­tween Cabi­net and the House of Assem­bly.

The two is­sues are de­scribed as be­ing thorny ones in the con­stituen­cies, where the leg­is­la­tors, in­clud­ing some Cabi­net min­is­ters, were elected. Cabi­net has not paid el­derly peo­ple who turned 60 years of age from April 2017 up un­til now. Cabi­net has a prob­lem of hav­ing no money to cater for the new el­derly peo­ple in terms of pay­ment. The money, ac­cord­ing to Cabi­net, is un­avail­able be­cause it was not bud­geted for.

When the mat­ter was first raised

The mat­ter of the non-pay­ment of the new el­derly was first raised back on Au­gust 7, 2017 by Nt­fon­jeni MP Som­p­isi Ma­gag­ula. He stood on Stand­ing Or­der 58. Ma­gag­ula said the se­nior cit­i­zens who reg­is­tered from April 1, this year would not be paid, de­spite them be­ing 60 years of age. “The el­derly peo­ple at Nt­fon­jeni will be get­ting paid on Wed­nes­day (Au­gust 9, 2017) and the un­for­tu­nate part was that those who turned 60 this year will not get paid,” Ma­gag­ula was quoted as say­ing.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Paul Dlamini promised the leg­is­la­tors that he would talk to Min­is­ter for Fi­nance Martin Dlamini and find out if there were means that could be done to save the new el­derly peo­ple from the frus­tra­tions they were fac­ing.

What hap­pened af­ter a month

Af­ter a month, the mat­ter was also raised in Par­lia­ment. The DPM stated that they had not con­cluded talks with the fi­nance min­is­ter. He said he would fol­low up on the is­sue to find out if there was the lat­est in­for­ma­tion. Mba­bane East MP Es­ther Dlamini was pre­sid­ing over the House sit­ting, in her ca­pac­ity as Deputy Speaker.

Cabi­net chucked out

Last week Wed­nes­day (Novem­ber 15, 2017), the MPs could not take

Cabi­net to move out of the House to find out how the min­is­ters could source money to pay the new el­derly peo­ple. The mo­tion to ask Cabi­net to leave the House was moved by Mat­san­jeni North MP Phila Buthelezi, who stood up on Stand­ing Or­der 58 to move his mo­tion.

Buthelezi also raised an­other mat­ter when mov­ing the mo­tion, that of Pha­lala Fund. Buthelezi stated that the sit­u­a­tion was be­com­ing dif­fi­cult in their con­stituen­cies be­cause peo­ple who were sup­posed to ben­e­fit from the fund did not get ac­cess to it. Mh­langatane MP Mbalekelwa Nd­wandwe also pas­sion­ately made a sub­mis­sion on the day. He won­dered why peo­ple-driven ini­tia­tives were not taken pri­ori­tised by Cabi­net.

“What do Swazis need to do to show that they need their ser­vices in their con­stituen­cies be­cause they pay their taxes?” Nd­wandwe asked dur­ing the de­bate. Par­lia­ment ad­journed early on that day to al­low Cabi­net to work on the mat­ter. The leg­is­la­tors wanted an­swers on the next day.

MP Jo­hane tears state­ment

On the fol­low­ing day (Thurs­day last week), Cabi­net went to the House with a min­is­te­rial state­ment, which was de­liv­ered by the DPM, in his ca­pac­ity as the act­ing prime min­is­ter.

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Sibu­siso Dlamini was not in the coun­try, as he had gone on a honey­moon at Bonn in Ger­many. The DPM asked for five min­utes for his state­ment to be pre­pared to be de­liv­ered in the House. Dur­ing that time, Min­is­ter for Pub­lic Ser­vice Owen Nx­u­malo was asked to leave the House by Speaker Themba Msibi over a bad joke he made when Nk­wene MP Sikhum­buzo Dlamini was mak­ing a sub­mis­sion.

The DPM, when de­liv­er­ing his state­ment, stated that Cabi­net had no money to im­ple­ment the pay­ment of the new el­derly peo­ple. The process to in­clude the new el­derly peo­ple into the data­base could not hap­pen overnight be­cause it was a long process. Cabi­net also stated that Par­lia­ment did not make a bud­get al­lo­ca­tion for the new el­derly peo­ple.The Cabi­net min­is­ters fur­ther urged Par­lia­ment to ob­serve the set bud­getary pro­cesses. On the is­sue of Pha­lala Fund, Cabi­net stated that the chal­lenge was the in­crease in the num­ber of pa­tients re­quir­ing as­sis­tance un­der this scheme and the es­ca­lat­ing in­crease associated with re­fer­rals.

This had led the coun­try to owe huge amounts of money to med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties in South Africa.

That state­ment did not go down well with MPs, who told the DPM to leave the House with his Cabi­net team to sort the prob­lem. Dur­ing that time, Mba­bane West MP Jo­hane Shongwe tore the state­ment, say­ing it did not help any­one. MP Prince Hlangabeza also stood up on that day to make his sub­mis­sion. He said he did not un­der-

stand why Cabi­net was not hum­ble when deal­ing with the mat­ter.

The prince won­dered why Cabi­net was mak­ing this prob­lem its own. He said they should ap­proach the speaker to ask for help from Par­lia­ment to show that they were se­ri­ous in han­dling the mat­ter.

On that day, he said it was fine for them to va­cate the House of Assem­bly un­til they ap­proached Par­lia­ment for help. The MPs sug­gested that it was good for Cabi­net to meet with the fi­nance ses­sional and port­fo­lio com­mit­tees to forge a way-for­ward on the is­sues. The MPs and Cabi­net were to meet on the night of last week Thurs­day. They were sup­posed to ta­ble a re­port, but they could not be­cause the House sit­ting was can­celled on Mon­day. The House was called on Wed­nes­day by the speaker.

Cabi­net boy­cotts

On Wed­nes­day, Cabi­net boy­cotted the House sit­ting be­cause they felt MPs ex­pelled them from the House. They also felt MPs had to apol­o­gise to the Cabi­net be­fore it could go back to Par­lia­ment.

PM con­firms boy­cott, wants MP Jo­hane dealt with

On Thurs­day, Pri me Min­iste r Dr.Sibu­siso Dlamini, who had been back from Ger­many, con­firmed Cabi­net boy­cott of Par­lia­ment busi­ness. He told the speaker, through a tele­phone

con­ver­sa­tion, that MP Jo­hane Shongwe should be dealt with for tear­ing the Cabi­net state­ment.

The MPs, the PM said, should also with­draw t he mo­tion moved by Buthelezi. The PM said the MPs should just for­get about de­lib­er­at­ing these two is­sues and fo­cus on other matters, if they wanted to work with Cabi­net in Par­lia­ment.

How­ever, the MPs pro­ceeded with their busi­ness with­out Cabi­net, as t hey had r es­olved to do t hat on Thurs­day. The MPs ar­gued that MP Jo­hane’s mat­ter was dealt with on Thurs­day last week. There was no need to apol­o­gise or with­draw. The House ad­journed on Thurs­day for Fri­day.

Cabi­net ends boy­cott

On Fri day, a s peci a l House of Assem­bly sit­ting was called. Cabi­net was part of that sit­ting this time around. Speaker Themba Msibi re­lated all the events that led to the stand-off be­tween the two par­ties. He urged Min­is­ter Owen Nx­u­malo and Shongwe to apol­o­gise. Nx­u­malo apol­o­gised to the MPs a nd e s peci a l l y to Nk­wene MP Sikhum­buzo Dlamini, whom he jok­ingly said was talk­ing non­sense. Shongwe said he would not re­peat him­self be­cause the speaker dealt with him on Thurs­day. The prime min­is­ter promised that a state­ment on the t wo i s s ues would be i s s ued on Wed­nes­day next week.

Mba­bane West Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Jo­hane Shongwe.

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