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By The Editor Thulani Thwala - SWAZI TIMES-12-Sep-2009

Over the past weekend I sped off to Rhodes University where African journalists and some from Europe converged for the annual Highway Africa conference. MTN Swaziland made sure that I am part of the event and I appreciated that gesture.

That said, this does not change the glaring fact that MTN has to deal with its troublesome network. Thanks. At the event that I attended with two senior editors, my mentors to put it bluntly in Bheki Makhubu and Donny Nxumalo, we had informal discussions with varying people that God brought into this world.

In one of the litany of discussions, we found ourselves bisecting the holy book commonly known as a Bible. Donny appeared more informed on it owing to his alleged born-again status. Then there was this Hadebe man who back in 1989 emerged as the only plane crash survive in France that claimed over 200 lives.

You would have thought a man who made such a miraculous escape would be living and eating the Bible but it’s not the case. Infact, I want to share with you a quote from him where the Bible is concerned and I hope Christians will not be offended. If anything, the quote should enlighten them on the magnitude of work that lays ahead for them as regards shedding some Biblical light to many a people. He was asked by Bheki who also paraded some frailties where the Bible is concerned by suggesting that Jesus was a political activist on what he thought of the Bible.

Reaction

Without blinking, Hadebe roared: “The Bible was compiled by a group of men who were possessed by bulls…”. For simplicity he said they were possessed by what former Speaker in the House of Assembly Mgabhi Dlamini stole at the cattle byre. There was unmatched silence and Donny froze, justifiably so. My reaction is no secret, I said: “Wow, what a new dimension to things”. At some point I thought he was referring to our constitution but I recalled that we were talking about the Bible. In any event everyone is entitled to his own opinion and the animal known as democracy allows that.

Bheki sounded a very strong warning to Hadebe who will be visiting the country in December, God willing, not to repeat such a statement in Swaziland because there is a high chance he goes back to Rhodes in a body bag, dead that is. He was not suggesting we are murderers but merely highlighting the extent we believe in the Bible as a country. Bheki himself who claimed to be a believer as opposed to being a Christian left a white man we shared a shuttle with to the airport red-faced when he delivered this quote; “I believe that God is there and lives in a place known as heaven but I don’t believe we (referring to Christians I am sure) would go there after life, it’s his place not ours”. After all this I said Amen, and took a long nap. End of story.

Now, back to serious business, my agenda today is to address myself to former Prime Minister A.T Dlamini, Public Works Minister Ntuthuko Dlamini and Education Minister Wilson Ntshangase respectively. Quickly on A.T, I have been following closely the waste of time and money the country is spending on his mission to bring sanity or peace in political terms in the troubled country known as Madagascar where a DJ literally overthrew the president (Manana) of the country who was to later become a borrowed Swazi who lived a luxurious life in Swaziland through our tax.

SADC leaders heaped praises on A.T and those he worked with in making attempts to stabilise things in Madagascar. I had no problem with that because to me SADC is not different from a combination of spineless political vendors. SADC’s decisions are extremely inconsistent and smack of fear and overwhelming favour.

Assuming

Robert Mugube remains president of Zimbambwe despite standing for elections without a competitor and that should tell you what SADC is made of. All SADC leaders are scared of Robert and that is no secret. In any event that is not my core argument on the A.T matter because he was merely a messenger assigned by SADC on the Madagascar issue. Assuming the praises he got with his team are based on authentic results, the question becomes; what prevented A.T from solving our own political problems while serving as PM.

Has A.T forgotten that charity begins at home or the adage has been changed to charity begins in Madagascar? It has taken A.T and his team roughly a month or so to make headways in the Madagascar saga yet he failed to make any meaningful political changes in the country in five years. I fail to reconcile the two scenarios. Why do we always want to shine outside the borders of the country and live a lot of political rot in Swaziland?

Do we need a DJ to scare us to spring into action? Seriously our political problems are far less than those of Madagascar but we are failing to jump at the opportunity and prevent them from snowballing. Instead we prefer costly talk-shows where we generally say one and the same thing every year. The only difference I have noted with these so-called smart partnership meetings is the shocking increase on the funds spent.

Personally, I am tired of Prince Masitsela telling us how Tinkhundla is good. I get annoyed to hear people grovelling saying things they don’t believe in. I think we need something better than that and sitting here, I think A.T has that magic wand if what it is claimed he achieved in Madagascar is anything to go by. Let’s also have a unity government, is that asking for too much? I don’t think so. The problem in Swaziland is that people think those who want change are opposed to the king. I for one feel strongly that we need Okandaba to be in-charge of this country because I strongly believe in kingdomship, it has taken us this far.

The change I envisage is where people would generally have a say on some executive decisions that have everything to do with running the country. I envisage a situation where positions will be filled based on merit not birthright. In Swaziland any committee or board is not complete without anything with the title of Prince, Princess, chief or a son to a prince or a friend to someone who knows someone within the royal family. Now, I hope A.T will share with us how he managed what SADC feels he achieved in Madagascar and localise it. Until then, I am not praising him. The only praise I can give A.T is that of winning the king’s confidence for his appointment into such a heavy job. It says a lot.

To me it means the king felt A.T deserved bigger tasks than being PM. Never in history has a man relieved as PM been assigned to such tasks apart from rotting within the Liqoqo or appointed into some ambassadorial position. The task given to A.T makes him more important than a PM. Concluding that A.T has no weak knees as it was alleged some years back is in order. Prove your critics wrong Hlubi you have grown to be bigger than the position you held before what you are doing now but remember charity begins at home.

Follows

Now, coming to Ntuthuko, the man who was once nicknamed ‘Madlasigwabugwabu’, I am not happy with his performance lately. I am not referring to his table manners that saw him down prawns in the US leaving him with a heavily swollen face, no, but his work performance. But again, the manner in which he found himself eating something he is allergic to should tell you how Ntuthuko conducts himself generally, as a person. He says anything and it follows that he also eats almost everything. Now, the time has come for the man from LaMgabhi to sort his social and political life. Ntuthuko bites more than he can chew and I am not impressed, actually, I am depressed.

He launched himself in a very blistering way and has since faded. What is going on Ntuthuko? What has happened? In the first place I fail to understand how you found yourself sitting at a table laden with prawns in America when you should be sorting out the CTA mess? Why are you doing this to yourself when we had invested our trust and confidence in you? This is a clear case of a man who bites more than he can chew.

Are you lately a talk-show host? Tell me how far you have gone with the CTA transformation? Tell me how far have you gone with the resettlement of highway residents? Tell me how far have you gone with government cars banned from funerals? Tell me how far have you gone with generally all the things you promised to turn around?

My advice would be that you take one step at a time like I do here. I liberate people like you one Saturday at a time. From today, get your swollen face back into shape and deliver for purposes of proving to people like Senator Thandi Shongwe who accused you of ‘making a lot of noise’ without any meaningful practical action. I recall Thandi, a former minister, warning you that operating like inunu will take you nowhere.

Inhuman

CTA will be changing from being a government department into a private company and my advice to you is to make sure you do not mess people’s lives. I don’t buy the cheap talk that people will not lose their jobs, to me that is absolute nonsense and I am sure you are also aware. I think you were already alive and eating when Water Services changed to what it is today. People were assured jobs would be safe and pension would be transferred but when reality struck that remained just a dream and people lost their jobs in a sad and inhumane manner. I hope you will make sure the transition is smooth and where people have to get their dues and depart at CTA it must be done than to give them false hope and destroy their lives.

I would hate a situation where people’s lives would be pawned like prawns. I would hate to see talkative politicians like the late former DPM Sishayi Nxumalo who until his last day on earth he dreamt of free education that has not come despite having a constitution that dictates we do. I have not lost confidence Mr. Minister Sir in you but I am very concerned. You still have my full support for you have shown the willingness to take the bull by its horns. Just do the right thing, as you used to demand of ministers during your days as a back-bencher.

Then there is Wilson, a man who appears to enjoy his political life to the fullest. One time I read that he paraded one or two fake Michael Jackson dances in Parliament. Look, Mr. Minister I am not happy with your loose tongue. You say the right things but the wrong way. My advice to you is to respect the teaching profession and do like teachers do. As a former teacher I would have thought things would be easier for you but instead you are just straying.

Call teachers to a big meet and tell them your concerns and suggestions on how things should be in schools than liking the habit of shooting from the hip like a cowboy. Your loose tongue has created an unnecessary tension between your office and teachers. You are not that bad at what you are doing, the issue is that you need to tweak it a bit. The positives I can pick from your turbulent tenure is hiring teachers, many of them and improving their pay. There I am happy and I wish you continue hiring more in readiness for the protracted free education. Work on your tongue and avoid prawns. May God bless.

We have a date next week.


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