August 1, 2010

Mfomfo on Monday 2 August 2010

A group approach will take this country forward other than an individualistic approach.

It has always been stated that two eyes are better than one or putting of heads together helps bring about solutions to existing problems. If we were to approach such principles, in every Swazi village or community, we would have long found solutions to our economic problems and social challenges. On the other hand we seem not interested in paying any attention to the way we do things in Swaziland. We have this bad tendency of wanting to throw in the towel without having exhausted all possible options to a problem and then hope for some miracles although a big number of our Swazi brothers and sisters do not believe in the existence of the Lord Almighty.

When we had the National dialogue in about two weeks ago, I got the impression that Swazis do not see themselves having any positive role they may play in bringing about desirable change in the affairs of this country. This manifested itself in the random group presentation afforded to certain tables. The idea was to get some feed back on what was discussed at the various tables consisting of varying participants in terms of human capacity, level of education, skills and understanding of general issues (politics, economy, governance, etc). The language of most presenters was “This and that must be changed”. It was never, ”We, as the people most affected by these problems, have to change a, b, and c”. This is sad because we are hoping that somebody somewhere will get up and start doing something about our problems. There cannot be any single individual who can do problem solving for a people who refuse to do certain things for themselves. Why are we behaving like little birds in a nest who are hoping for their mother to come back and drop something into their mouths. Those who have had the chance of being herd boys know very well that whenever little birds hear the sound of any movement on the nest they simply open their mouths in anticipation of feed.

The time has come for the Secretariat to bring about a revolutionary approach to the Smart Partnership dialogue initiative so that it brings about the necessary changes in the lives of the Swazis. We cannot address the economy of this country without grouping the major players in the economy sector together so that they may voice their opinions and their solutions to the economic problems of this country. This should go for food security too where we need the Commercial farmers’ voice. What can ill-organised individuals bring to the table in as far as delivering an effective Health delivery system is concerned? For effective solutions we need to have input from Medical practitioners from both public and private sectors. Why is this a difficult task to achieve in Swaziland?

The Parliament of Swaziland is looking for a role to play in the affairs of this country but it is doing so the wrong way. This is because these MPs have never been given a lecture on the role of parliament in the Kingdom of Swaziland. In the absence of any lecture the MPs always learn the hard way that they have a minimal role to play in the affairs of this Kingdom. Last week they formed a committee to investigate the death of poachers in the hands of game rangers especially in the Lowveld of Swaziland. But why are the MPs investigating this matter when we have the Royal Swaziland Police Services? Is it a vote of no confidence on the Police Services? What do they expect to achieve at the end of the day? Is this meant to embarrass the Head of the Police Services or are they hoping for a public stunt to win them sympathies or is this a move to educate the masses on what they can do or cannot do in Swaziland? Who are the MPs hoping to put on the spot light in as far as implementation of their recommendation will be concerned? The point I am bringing to your attention is that the MPs cannot function and think like they are not in the Kingdom of Swaziland. They may have mingled with MPs from different parts of the world but that should not drive them into believing what is done by their colleagues outside Swaziland can be done in this Kingdom. They have to study and understand the Swazi people first and when they think they know them better then they must look at ways of getting them involved in the things that matter to the people of Swaziland before they go for wrong publicity stunts that will make them eat humble pies when they thought they could walk tall. It is very important that they tell the Swazi people first the role of a parliament in the Siswati concept.


July 26, 2010

Mfomfo on Monday 26 July 2010

Smart Partnership dialogue projects the Swazi people as a disorganized lot.

First and foremost I would like to thank the fellow who invited me to be a participant in the recently held Smart Partnership National Dialogue. Had this opportunity passed me by, I would not have discovered so many disturbing things about the Swazi people (including me). Without such opportunities/initiatives it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to know where we ought to polish our skills in helping ourselves as a nation. It is my sincere hope and belief that the Smart Partnership Secretariat will go back to the drawing board to strategise on improvements to these national dialogues if they are to benefit the Swazi nation.

The theme of the National dialogue was “Socio-economic Transformation” and “Moving towards a 1st World Country”. I personally believe it was a well thought of theme but the participants (being Swazis) were not ready for it. The Swazi people are a people who are deeply rooted to their cultural background as well as their tradition. This should be taken into consideration whenever they are asked to come together for some discussion. This implies they are a people who take into consideration other factors that may be considered trivial to those that have been brought up under a strong western influence. Unfortunately for the Secretariat, it may be a little bit ahead of some of the people it is trying very hard to help. I am of the view that the calling together of the people of Swaziland to map a way forward for this country will always be a greatest challenge to the facilitators (Secretariat) if there is no method of striking a balance between Modernity and Tradition.

I think this nation is at cross-roads in as far as modernity and tradition are concerned. One sector of the population is guided by tradition whilst the other sector (mostly the youth) is guided by modernity. It is a well known fact that the youth is in the majority. There cannot be any moving forward unless someone facilitates some trade-offs between the two groups. In the event the Traditional group refuses to give in to reality and experience, it might find itself being marginalized which will be to the detriment of certain cultural/traditional values that have defined the Swazi nation.

Although the discussions were guided by the topics given, the topics were too many for a start. We all know what Swazis tend to do when they are given a buffet instead of a set menu with waiters standing by to fill each plate accordingly. In the case of a buffet we have the tendency to take more than we can bite resulting in lot of food remaining in our plates when we are long full.

There is no denying that we are still a developing country trying very hard to come to terms with the challenges that are associated with most developing countries. In light of this position, I am of the view that Secretariat should have given us time to look at three topics over the two days’ period being Food, Shelter and Education (FSE). The Queen Mother tried to allude to these basic needs but we had already missed the boat. Let us not forget that we have over 70% Swazis that are still facing these challenges, therefore, they cannot be participants in the real sense when it comes to finding solutions to the country’s problems (FSE). Can we then make the right assumption that it is logical for us to move forward to a 1st World country when the majority of the Swazi people are still locked up in the battle against FSE?

Let me make a suggestion to the Secretariat that will benefit this country to a large extent. Where are the retired Civil servants who held senior positions? Where are the former politicians who were ministers of the crown? Why don’t they come forward to shed some light on what is stopping this nation from addressing FSE? I strongly believe these former ministers and former top civil servants would give very good reasons why we are not making any head ways in addressing the things that matter to many Swazi people. If we keep on relying on those that have never been at decision making positions we will always be running in circles. In my group of participants we were not too sure why this country is not addressing the things that matter to many Swazis, when Swazis have been calling for actions on these basic needs.

Let us not forget that before a child can count up to 10 he has to learn to count from 0 to 5. What do you think? It is not all that easy is it?

July 19, 2010

Mfomfo on Monday 19 July 2010

If it is making a lot of sense, Swazis will not implement it.

On Tuesday 20 July 2010, some selected Swazis will be coming together to discuss certain issues that are challenging the survival of this nation. I do not know how they have been chosen to be participants in this national dialogue. I have also been invited to be a participant in this national dialogue and I do not have a clue why I have been chosen. But I know that in our country there are so many things that get done without anyone getting worried about the public lacking information about any initiative being undertaken for the public good.

The people of Swaziland are coming together to talk about food security. This has become a national problem but nobody has a clue on what is to be done. The Swazis are to help government come up with a solution to this problem. Whose problem is it that this country cannot produce enough to feed the people staying in this country? If it is a problem faced by government alone then it will not bother the people of Swaziland whether there is a solution to this problem or not.

Last Friday I met a chicken farmer who told me of his initiative to bring some common business sense to some farmers around the Malkerns area of Swaziland. These farmers grow Sugar cane for a mill situated over 100Km away from their farms. The chicken farmer imports a lot of maize from the Republic of South Africa. He is a commercial chicken farmer. He had done his calculation very well using experts in the field of maize industry as well as in the Sugar cane industry. He called the farmers to a meeting and asked them how much money they were making, in terms of profit, from the sugar cane. It is not that he did not have an idea. Some of the farmers who were honest admitted that they were not making any money especially those that had joined the industry because they were still indebted to the financiers. The chicken farmer was shocked to discover that the farmers were not prepared to abandon sugar cane farming for maize farming even though he had made a proposal and was prepared to enter into a legally binding contract with the farmers for some years. He even showed them the projected profit they would be making per hectare of maize compared to the hectare of Sugar cane. This chicken farmer was prepared to do the ploughing, planting, buying the inputs as well as doing the harvesting and buying the maize at the price that is used in Swaziland. He would then take away the costs of doing these from the sale of maize and the farmers would still be left with a healthy profit from which he would take care of the financiers for the sugar cane.

The farmers refused to accept this offer. He even went to the extent of calling the financiers  of the sugar cane growing farmers with a view to get them to agree to his proposal so that they could push the farmers to agree to his proposal. The financiers could not agree to his proposal although they could see that there was a lot of business sense to what he was proposing. The question that comes to my mind is what is wrong with the Swazi people? If we want to bring about some changes in this country in the way the Swazi people think and do things then we need to get a mirror for every Swazi individual and ask him/her to look at the fellow in the mirror and change certain things that he/she is not happy with before we count on ourselves to do something for the good of this country as well as for our children.

Lastly he said to me if a proposal to a national problem is proposed to the Swazi people, they will look at it and if it is making a lot of sense then the chances of that solution being implemented are close to zero. Why should we condemn ourselves to perpetual difficulties when we can rise to any occasion and do the right thing for the good of this country and our children?

Last week the SACU Heads of States met for some serious business following the departure from a known practice of standing together whenever matters of common interest arose in the region. This departure from the known practice came about because of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland signing an EPA’s agreement with the European Union. This did not go down well with RSA because she felt that the region would be flooded with cheap goods from the EU thus threatening the stability/survival of the region which is heavily dependent on South Africa for survival. The RSA is also not happy that it does not have any control on the use of the money from the SACU pool once it is allocated to these governments yet this money is coming from the South African consumer/tax payer. The heads of states have agreed to have these differences ironed out with a view to make the SACU member states’ dealings harmonized as well as opening its doors to new members so that it may be stronger than it is. What does this mean my friend? It is time you think big?

July 13, 2010

Mfomfo on Monday 12 July 2010

The lack of unifying force amongst Swazi people is detrimental to their survival.

The Swazi people, from a distance, appear very united yet using a micro-scope to look at their ways of life look very much divided or a group of individuals with no values binding them together. We have one King, similar cultural upbringing and a little bit of similar educational system but very different in many respects. We are very good at treating visitors but not interested in learning thing or two from them. We are good at giving praise where it is due but can hardly do anything to show our innovation.

I have had the chance to visit a number of communities with a view of getting to know the different family values that may be keeping them going on daily basis and I have found very few if any. Before a nation pays any attention to the things that define it as a particular people, it must have its people address certain needs that are very key to their survival. Generally people need food, housing and education before talking about luxuries. In Swaziland we are all in agreement that there is not enough food for everybody. The lack of this essential need breaks down the Swazi people into many segments resulting in our failure to move in a preferred direction for our development and progress. The bulk of the Swazi people have to worry about getting food. This is why there is World Vision in Swaziland trying very hard to help in the procurement of food Aid as well as its distribution. Without this donor there would be hunger and starvation in this country. I think the presence of this donor organisation in this country is an admission in our own right that we have failed to look after ourselves and our children. Instead of being ashamed of ourselves, we have tolerated this situation up to a point where we feel there is nothing wrong with being indifferent to our plight.

Many years back our government started talking about food production but we are yet to see anything new to help us overcome this challenge. What is the matter with the Swazi people?  I wonder why we are becoming experts at identifying a problem and then failing to do anything about it. I do not know the amount of resources we have used to get to address this problem but nothing seems to work. As long as we will learn to tolerate certain things that are not helping us to get many Swazis out of this hunger cycle, we will have few brains to help us move forward. A nation that has few brains available to look at existing problems will always have no economic growth and will develop a dependency syndrome. If there are more people in Swaziland who cannot use their brains profitably then we will always have many people making a lot of noise. This will result in the government wasting resources on people who are to maintain order. We do not need to have many Swazis making too much noise but they are becoming used to it because they do not have any hard thinking to do due to the fact that the environment is not conducive to hard thinking. Are the Swazi people so stupid that we do not know what to do in order to produce enough food for everyone in Swaziland?

The second need that the Swazi people need to address is Shelter. The sporadic mushrooming of huts and houses everywhere is a clear indication of desperate need for shelter. We have to define what a shelter is. If we do not do this then we will be a laughing stock to the civilized communities of the world. A house has to have running water and power. These must be affordable as they tend to have a positive spin-off on the lives of the Swazi people and their children. The education need is one that needs no emphasis because it is the backbone of all civilized countries.

The world cup is over and there is no denying the fact that those who participated for the first time, were able to gauge their performances against the world’s best. Uruguay was a revelation. They have deadly strikers. Luck was an element that was missing for some teams like Ghana. South Africa did very well and will always be remembered for the right reasons. We can now look forward to 2020 for the Olympics in Durban?

July 6, 2010

Mfomfo on Monday 5 July 2010

The Poor do not talk about Poverty

There is not much in common between those that live a good life or reasonably well and those that hardly make ends meet. Those who hardly afford a meal in two or three days do not discuss about their difficulties because they have reached a point where talking about their difficulties does not help them any more. They are a people who have not tasted success in life and they quickly take the position that life was meant to be what it is to them. Due to lack of exposure to successful experiences they quickly believe that there cannot be anything good and better coming their way. They do not blame anyone for their situation. It is sad when they do not have any success stories to tell or when they do not have any role models who started from humble beginnings.

The rich guys do not talk about poverty too other than the accumulation of wealth or maximizing of profit. They hardly talk about poor utilisation of state resources because they are pre-occupied with big ideas and investments. They may be aware of the benefits of having many people with disposable income but do not care that much about such principles as long as their companies are doing reasonably well. I remember one fellow from overseas who told me that he had made a lot of money from Swaziland and would wind up his business in Swaziland and return to his native country for other investments. There is nothing wrong with this approach because we do need some people who ought to show us the culture of being good entrepreneurs and the benefits there of.

Generally the people who talk about poverty are those who have had a taste of good life or employment and then lost it for one reason or the other. When things are going well for any individual, there is hardly the opportunity to reflect on the new position as well as look at the sustainability of the new earnings/lifestyle. Employers do not take the initiative to explain the importance of the role of employees to the sustainability of the established business venture. This results in the employees considering themselves as tools of production who have to come together when they need an increase in wages or improvement in conditions and terms of service.

Thee reason these people, who find themselves without employment, talk about poverty is because of the obligations they have to meet when the regular income has stopped. They will first look at options of employment and then discuss about ideas that they need to take up to create jobs. They are then made to run from pillar to post looking for launch pads for their ideas. When the energy to run from one place to the next in search of assistance is exhausted, they then begin to give up on their ideas, lose steam and self confidence and lastly not trust any established institution meant to help individuals who bring up ideas soliciting funds for getting projects off the ground. There is no way of helping any man or woman who has given up on himself or herself. Any person who has given up on himself tends to lock his brain in a box and becomes less interested in any thing unless he sees a change in new faces promising any assistance to help him get off the ground.

I do not know if the government has a department that does any research on human behaviour so that it can be in a better position to tap into the potential of any group of Swazis at any point in time. There is a great need to do things differently starting with the rural folks and moving up to the peri-urban centres. The ministry of Agriculture has to think of new approaches other than embarking on initiatives that are taking a long time to bear desired fruits. With the sugar cane initiative that government under took in the late 1990s, it appears there is no structure set up to study the results that this initiative has put to bear in as far as impacting positively on the lives of the rural folks. I think if the results are to be seen after 10 years then it is 10 years too late. We must all be told of the signs of easing poverty. If the head of a family that had been classified poor cannot buy school shoes for his school going children after a year of this project of sugar cane farming, then the project is not of immediate help to the fight against poverty.

Sugar cane is a plant that yields result after about 9 months. The desired result (in terms of poverty reduction) may take a longer time to realize than anticipated. This will depend on the level of government subsidy as well as loan restructuring. If the subsidy is low then the farmer will take a longer time to pay off the debt for the infrastructure development to the bank or financial institution.