The Nation

We speak truth to power


We don’t need penis-wielding politicians

When I read an article by Dr Sikelela Dlamini that Ndumiso Mamba’s resignation had nothing to do with his public office, I simply concluded that the man has run out of ideas.

On the other hand we will always have this kind of thinking as long as public officials in Swaziland are not subjected to a code of ethics and conduct.

Holders of public office such as the fallen Minister for Justice & Constitutional Affairs should have been accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and should have submitted themselves to whatever scrutiny that was appropriate to their office.

Honestly, in politics we cannot afford to have public officials parading the “bad boy” image.

To avoid a horrible repeat of the Mamba shame, the Lobamba parliament has a challenging task to enact ethics reforms.

My argument is fairly straightforward. Politicians’perceived irresponsiveness, various forms of misconduct and corruption scandals will erode the people’s trust in government and the throne as well, since they are perceived to be there at His Majesty’s Service.

In order to induce a more ethical behavior among politicians as well as to rebuild public trust in the discredited political institution, an ethics regime should be adopted by our legislatures.

Ethics reforms in Swaziland would be formulated to include broad principles of behavior and would define what is appropriate and what is inappropriate behavior, and would establish sanctions for violations of the code.

Mamba’s disgraceful conduct can be attributed to the kingdom’s dysfunctional political system which does not allow its citizens to be actively engaged in the political process.

If, however, Swazis came to believe that politicians and public officials were generally unethical or immoral, they would not have developed a strong sense of apathy towards the way they are supposedly governed.

You may have heard comments such as: “Why bother voting in this system? They are all crooks anyway.” 

Most recently we have a group of MP’s wives who want to form a union merely because they are more concerned about the conduct of their penis-wielding husbands than the welfare of their communities.

A well defined code of conduct and ethics can play an important role in ensuring this does not happen. By setting out clear rules that public officials must abide by, and by holding persons accountable when those rules are broken, Swazis can have confidence in public officials and system of governance.

It goes without saying that there will always be scandals that violate ethics. However, if ours was a normal political set-up, the people would take some comfort in knowing that when unethical behaviour occurs, appropriate actions would be taken to punish the person(s) responsible.

In many countries, public officials as Mamba was, are expected to adhere to high moral codes in all aspects of their lives. Even in Western democracies, voters often hold elected politicians to high moral standards.

Some even argue, for example, that public officials who engage in extra-marital affairs in their private lives have poor moral character, and cannot be trusted as public officials.

Politicians’private lives reveal more about their morals. What politicians do in their private lives matters and does impact their public responsibilities.

Lonhlambiso Shongwe, Mbabane

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