Swaziland: Why PM Dlamini Should Quit Now

opinion

The statement from Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini that he does not want another term in office deserves to be met with belly laughs.

Dlamini told an audience in Manzini, 'I am not determined to serve another term in office.' According to the Times of Swaziland, he added he would 'not campaign in next year's elections.'

Observers of Swaziland and Dlamini's record saw through the hollowness of his statement immediately. First up, he never took part in an election in 2008 when he was appointed to office by King Mswati III, in defiance of the kingdom's constitution. It states the PM must come from the House of Assembly, but Dlamini was not elected to anything.

So he never ran for election last time and it is ludicrous for him to imply that he would put himself before the voters at the 2013 election.

The second reason his statement has been met with derision is that it implies that people want him to carry on. Nothing is further from the truth. Only last month (October 2012) the Swazi House of Assembly passed a vote of no-confidence in him and his government.

According to the constitution, King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, was obliged to sack him. Once again the king defied the constitution and Dlamini remained in office.

The House vote of no-confidence was not isolated. In August 2012 the Sibaya, a rather quaint excuse for democracy in Swaziland where ordinary people gather at a cattle byre to air their views on matters of importance to them, told Dlamini and his government to quit. The people said they were corrupt and destroying the kingdom.

Dlamini, who was previously PM for seven and a half years until 2003, has a long history as an enemy of freedom, who ignores the law when it suits him.

But, he also has also shown himself to be incompetent, untrustworthy and vain.

His incompetence can been seen all over Swaziland, where seven in ten people live in the grip of abject poverty, earning less than US$2 a day. Three in ten people are so malnourished they are moving from hunger to starvation and the kingdom has the worst record for the number people with HIV in the whole world. On top of that, TB and measles are at epidemic proportions in Swaziland.

But, instead of putting forward policies to help the Swazi people, Dlamini has spent much of his time in office feathering his own nest. A blatantland-scam, where he and government colleagues bought for themselves land belonging to the Swazi people, only failed to go to court because King Mswati personally ordered it should not.

Dlamini has also personal share-holding in companies, including Swazi Empowerment (Pty) Limited (SEL), which in turn has shares in the MTN cellphone company. This means he has a personal vested interest in many business decisions his government takes.

Dlamini is untrustworthy. The most blatant example was in April 2011 when he called a press conference and lied to the media that he had secured a 'letter of comfort' from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This letter would demonstrate to world finance organisations, such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank, that Swaziland's economy was sound and the kingdom could be trusted with loans. The news was greeted as a triumph and published all over the world. But, the letter did not exist. It was a fabrication.

Instead, one year later in April 2012 the IMF announced it was withdrawing support from Dlamini's government and its 'fiscal adjustment roadmap' plan to save the economy. The IMF said 'Government has yet to propose a credible reform programme that could be supported by a new IMF Staff-Monitored Programme.'

Dlamini was also exposed as a fraud in October 2010 when he allowed his government to alter an official report for the United Nations that stated that Swaziland was behind in its efforts to meet Millennium Goals on alleviating poverty. The doctored report was changed so instead of saying the Swaziland Government was 'not likely' to meet the target of 'eradication of extreme poverty and hunger' it read that it could 'potentially' meet the target.

As well as being incompetent and untrustworthy, Dlamini is also vain. In October 2010 he accepted a 'World Citizen Award'. Even though before the award ceremony took place the world's media exposed the organisers as conmen and the award as fake, Dlamini nonetheless flew first-class with an entourage from Swaziland to the Bahamas, to accept the award. Even when he was told to his face that he had been conned, he refused to acknowledge it, humiliating both himself and Swaziland on the world stage.

So, Dlamini does not want another term in office. Frankly, the Swazi people do not want to see him in office for one day more. The Prime Minister should show some integrity for once and stand down now.

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