Key to all Challenges is targeted, result oriented national Political Dialogue.
All of our dialogues forums available in the country including Sibaya are series of monologues and not certainly not dialogues, in a propoer dialogue forum with intention to resolve conflict and bring peace you need a referee and all our available forum the government are both players and referees and this includes Sibaya, currently Sibaya has dismally fail to respond to the concerns of the people and it still is a very authority manipulated structre we need a different dialogue to solve our political challenges which if they remain unaddressed there can be no economic turnaround let alone vision 2022.
Before addressing the beauty of Dialogue, I believe it is also important to define pillars of international pillars/traits of democracy which cut across irrespective of culture and those are,
· Separation of powers
· Respect for the rule of law
· Respect for human rights
· Tolerance to dissenting voices
· Free economic activity
· Respect for pluralism
· Respect for freedom of expression and speech
· Respect for the freedom of assembly, movement and Association, to mention but a few and those also set up the pillars of a working dialogue
The opposite is true, that lack of social dialogue in any situation, it can be in marriage, in industries, in governments, between parents and children, between adults and the youth, between men and women, between spouses, between social partners, between neighbouring states, between governments and business, between politics and economy is a recipe for disaster.
For dialogue to strive and be sustainable, it needs tolerance to voices of dissent, it needs sustained opposition to play a role of a mirror to show the governing party where they are not delivering in good time, that promotes service delivery because in multiparty, there is political competition, where a ruling party will know that if they do not deliver and provide services to the citizenry, they will not have another term of office, as the electorate will have power to remove them and give those with best manifesto a chance. That kind of environment where opposition and voices of dissent are allowed, is a true democratic environment because people determine who is to govern them and they know why they have voted them in and this is the biggest deficit in the Tinkhundla system of governance, hence it continues to fail, because it is not people-driven and people do not have a voice.
I know that I am touching a raw nerve to the whole governing machinery, but unfortunately this is the truth and unless it is told, we are denying those who have power to correct the situation, living them to think all is well, It is true that because the system of constructing a government does not include the Will of the people.
When the former Prime Minister had come to a stage where he had failed to appease the people due to lack of service delivery, people at Sibaya, the highest national policy making body, called for him to relinquish office, the voices of the people at Sibaya were ignored, when the 9th parliament in response to the will of the people passed the vote of no confidence in terms of the supreme law of the country, which we all are called upon to uphold, defend and protect, that too was not respected, in this scenario where was (Democracy) the government of the people for the people by the people themselves, that is why we say the tinkhudla system of government and not the tinkhundla structures have failed dismally to serve the people with the dignity they deserve.
We shall always need the structures because they are facilities for decentralization of services which any form of government system need a closer proximity to the people for better service delivery.
Lack of opposition causes the ruling party to sit on their laurels and find comfort in ignoring service delivery to the people. Not considering the peoples priorities.
I recall that as long as we can all remember, Lavumisa and many other areas in the shiselweni and lubombo region have known draught as long as they can remember, parliament after parliament have called for dams, they were ignored. But when draught struck Hawane dam and Mbabane was threatened to ration water, no procedure and protocols were followed, over thirteen boreholes and many other interventions were done without a budget line to it, and without consulting with parliament. That is to show that in an undemocratic environment people’s concerns and priorities do not matter.
It is also important to state that Swaziland was multiparty before independence and was ushered into independence during the multiparty era. I am mentioning this because due to deliberate absence of politics in our schools curricular in all grades, a majority of the people don’t know that Swaziland was ever a multiparty state and the Head of State was a Monarch, and that Swaziland was multiparty even five years after independence until the fateful day of the 12th of April, 1973. Some People don’t even know that the Monarch can co-exist with political parties as it is the case in many economically progressive first world countries.
During the era of multiparty from 1967 until 1973, the country did not have the economic crisis we have which is beginning to be perennial. Everything was manageable, jobs were available, mines were operative, and industry was growing. Even though Imbokodvo National Movement had won all the seats, but because it was a multiparty system, Imbokodvo knew that they should excel so that in the next round of elections they do not lose to other political parties.
Politics remains a dictatorship if it is not run like a business. In business if you have monopolies and no competition, the citizens suffer because, there are no alternatives and no competition. Tinkhundla system of government can be equated to a business monopoly where there is no competition.
I am pleased that his Majesty in the highest tripartite global stage the International Labour Organization (ILO), pronounced that the country will revive social dialogue, and made comments on the intention to promote social justice in the country, these are very profound commitments and government should make sure that such environment is fast-tracked. Social Justice cannot exist where the Bill of rights, the rule of law, and respect for the constitution is undermined and where there is lack of responsiveness to the needs of the people. I believe government will shape up so that international pronouncements by His Majesty are seen to be done in law and in practice and enjoyed by all citizens equally. I am pleased that he repeated the importance of dialogue in the speech from the throne we need a result oriented dialogue process as in yesterday
There will be urgent need to engage in political dialogue as I have always said, the good intention, anxiety and wish to build and grow the economy without complimenting policies and political environment that FDI can be attracted to, would remain only a potential, but an exercise in futility. As such we shall always need a national all-inclusive result oriented political dialogue. This will and always will be a requirement because social dialogue with the tripartite stakeholders can only deal with socio-economic and labour issues and not purely political issues that is why we shall also need a political dialogue. We have issues of evictions, unemployment, and lack of economic and political freedoms which cannot be the tripartite agenda but a broad purely political agenda. I hope the government is listening. As not having dialogue is no longer an option in the country.
Jan J Sithole