By Khulile Thwala
His Majesty King Mswati III has called for free and fair elections as the country heads to the 2023 national elections led by the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC).
The King was speaking during Sibaya where emaSwati showed up in thousands to witness what His Majesty had to say. The Monarch emphasised the need for emaSwati to be given the opportunity to participate in the upcoming elections without intimidation and threats from sectors of society which were against the upcoming elections.
He condemned the circulating threats of disruption in the upcoming elections, highlighting that every liSwati should be allowed to make an informed decision about who to elect to power.
“We are praying for peaceful elections without any disturbances and that God and ancestors guide us in paths of peace, harmony, honour and respect in our various communities as the national elections are conducted,” said the Head of State.
He further condemned incidences where people are intimidated in the dawn of night for their participation in the upcoming elections.
“We pray that no one should be attacked and threatened for participating in the national elections as this will be a free and fair election. Every registered person has the right to cast their vote at the ballot box without influence. This is because the ballot box will be the deciding factor and the final determination and evidence of the people’s views regarding the political situation in the country,” stated the King.
He said he prayed that there shouldn’t be a case of people being intimidated and threatened in the dawn of night as it was common that once it’s dark, trouble brews (kungahlwa kwenile). This he said much to the laughter of the people inside the Sibaya.
“We pray such dark practices will not be witnessed in our nation again and emaSwati will be given an opportunity to participate in the elections freely and fairly,” said the Monarch.
According to the Monarch, scare tactics would not suffice in the upcoming elections and emaSwati had a constitutional right to participate in free and fair elections.
“Nothing will defeat a nation that is united, has one voice, one heart and is single-minded. It is for that reason that none of us should spare the effort to ensure that we live in peace and harmony for future generations to come,” said His Majesty.
Meanwhile, as the nation heads to the national elections, the King has said emaSwati are duty-bound to elect people who have a mindset hell-bound on ensuring growth and development in the kingdom for the country to attain first-world status.
“I strongly urge emaSwati to elect into office people of noble character, who will not push their own narrative and selfish agenda, but those who have the best interest of emaSwati at heart,” said His Majesty.
He further called for gender equality in Parliament, urging emaSwati to elect more women into power as in previous Parliaments, men held more positions and were the dominant gender.
The King noted the lack of women leadership in Parliament, urging the nation to give women an equal opportunity as men in leadership positions.
“These elections should be balanced so that both men and women are equally represented in Parliament,” said the King.
The King was further happy to note the restoration that has happened in the nation, including restoration of respect and calm which Eswatini has always been known for and further the harmony that emaSwati have amongst themselves. This His Majesty said was gratifying.
He said what was important was for people to be responsible for maintaining peace and harmony in the nation for the generations to come to enjoy the peace which the country has maintained.
The King urged the nation to nominate for elections individuals who are prudent and of the good council and said he trusted that emaSwati would choose wisely when election time approached.
He believed that the citizenry would elect people who are dignified and had the best interest of Eswatini at heart and did not push personal agendas but put the nation at the forefront when deliberating national issues and refrain from pushing their ideals.
He further urged for those living with disabilities to be represented as well in Parliament, stating that people should not leave them out when selecting candidates to vote for as they were also gifted with wisdom and deserved to have their voices heard.
Govt to communicate on the status of Cabinet before the end of the week
Regarding the status of the current Cabinet, the government has come out clearly to state that due to Cabinet ministers being Members of Parliament the dissolvement affects them as well.
Speaking to Eswatini Daily News, Government Spokesperson Alpheous Nxumalo, speaking on behalf of the government, said the Attorney General was yet to consult His Majesty to find out what would become of Cabinet and His Majesty will give direction and the government will communicate that direction before the close of the week.
In previous years, once Parliament has been dissolved the King appointed a committee to hold forte while a new government was being elected to office. It has always been the norm that whenever Parliament is dissolved, His Majesty is left with a small team he will work with to wrap up government business.
He further said with regards to the national dialogue, those who have been looking for an opportunity to ventilate their ideas regarding the future of this country now had the platform to do so during the national dialogue after the upcoming elections.
“We want a neutral venue for dialogue” – NNLC
The Ngwane National Liberatory Congress (NNLC) has said they want a neutral venue for dialogue following the announcement by His Majesty King Mswati III that dialogue would take place after the upcoming national elections.
Speaking to this publication, NNLC President Sibongile Mazibuko said they welcomed the announcement on the national dialogue, however, they were requesting a neutral venue and not Sibaya, which they said was not considered neutral on the basis that it was located within a royal residence.
The NNLC president further said it was counterproductive to conduct the national elections before the dialogue because the political tension within the country required that the issues within the country be ironed out first before any elections take place.
His Majesty, during the Sibaya session at Ludzidzini Royal Residence, announced that after the upcoming national elections, emaSwati will be allowed to dialogue at Sibaya.
The national elections are expected to be complete by September, which means the national dialogue will most likely take place around October.