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King wants lawmakers to stay in touch with their constituencies

By Vusi Sibisi

IN a rare pointed political rebuke of Parliament, His Majesty reminded lawmakers of their responsibilities to their constituencies.

Twice in his State of the Nation Address when opening the Fourth Session of the Sixth Parliament of Swaziland, His Majesty reminded lawmakers to consult with their constituencies.

Addressing the problem of rural development, the Ingwenyama spoke about the revival of the rural resettlement scheme and task the legislators to debate the issue with their constituencies and to submit ideas for a pilot scheme to test its merits.

Noting that the majority of people live in widely scattered rural communities without easy access to all essential social services and employment opportunities, the King said any delay in resettling rural communities will prohibitively costly in a few years to come.

"We must begin the search now for financing for the scheme," he said, adding that planning for such a scheme should begin as soon as possible.

A similar scheme was abortive after it was rejected by the people ostensibly because it was never properly marketed to them.

Apparently people feared that those tasked to oversee the implementation of the resettlement programme wanted to grab land for themselves. At the wake of these accusations none of the rural communities wanted to be resettled.

Another area where the King reminded lawmakers to consult with their constituencies is that of population growth.

Warning that at the rate at which the Kingdom’s population is growing will lead to disaster, His Majesty said "this is not an issue we can put off until tomorrow".

"This is a priority for the nation. We all share equal responsibility to face the challenge and we need to find answers fast," warned His Majesty, adding by impressing on the nation how this is crucial to the future of the country. " We can no longer afford to keep on producing children without proper planning.

"This is a topic I want you MPs to raise in your constituencies and for all leaders to discuss with their people."

Previously some of the constituencies had complained that their parliamentary representatives were not serving their interests. In fact some of the constituencies even wanted to recall their MPs save that presently once elected there is no way an MP can be withdrawn.

In fact some of the affected MPs even boasted publicly that whatever the feeling of their constituencies, although they voted them in they can no longer touch them let alone vote them out of Parliament.

Ironically during the Mahlalengangeni Vusela which ushered the present administration in office, the majority of people recommended that they should be given the legal right to recall their elected MPs in the event they were not satisfied with their performance. Interestingly if there were to be such law it has to be passed by the same legislators, some of whom are no longer wanted by their constituencies, hence it is not surprising that this recommendation has been kept in the back banner three years into the life of the present Parliament.

It is anyone’s guess that this recommendation may not see the light of day possibly until the final weeks of the life of this Parliament which is left with just about two years.