By Khulile Thwala
The debate on which Eswatini Government ministry is suitable to house the Micro Projects programme continues to rage on. This follows a heated discussion amongst senators on Wednesday during a House of Senate sitting.
The contention on the relevant ministry for Micro Projects to be under was brought about by a Motion without Notice moved by Senator Busi Dlamini for the house to debate and adopt the Administration of the Community Development Special Fund Regulations, 2023.
In light of the regulations, which stipulate that the fund’s projects will be implemented by Micro Projects, senators argued that the fund had similarities to the Rural Development Fund under the Ministry of Tinkhundla Administration and Development.
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This, therefore, influenced the senators to question why Micro Projects is not moved to the Ministry of Tinkhundla since it mostly implements projects at the tinkhundla level. Worth noting is that Micro Projects is a department under the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development.
In his submission, Senator Mkhululi Dlamini said corruption at the tinkhundla level would decrease if Micro Projects worked with traditional authorities at each inkhundla in facilitating annual meetings on community development to make use of the fund.
“Ensuring projects are kickstarted at the community level is challenging for traditional authorities or members of Parliament simply because it is costly. The regulations should put into consideration ensuring Micro Projects assists the leaders organise meetings and also cap and monitor the meetings based on a budget, to avoid issues of external expenses because facilitating development meetings at the community level is costly,” said the senator.
Chief Ngalokhulu argued that the relevant ministry to facilitate the fund and further implement the projects under it would be the Tinkhundla Ministry. This he said was the reason why it made more sense for Micro Projects to be under that ministry.
His sentiments were reiterated by Senator Isaac Magagula, who said it was difficult to debate the regulations without the integral ministries which are affected by the fund being present. These ministries are Tinkhundla and Economic Planning. The ministers and officials from these ministries were not present during the sitting.
Other senators also followed suit, questioning why Micro Projects was being separated from the Tinkhundla Ministry as it performed functions that were more relevant to that ministry.
This caused a delay in the adoption of the regulations, forcing the senators to gather in chambers to debate the regulations further for adoption.