Poverty-stricken textile workers in Swaziland say they have been selling their votes in the forthcoming national election for cash and chicken pieces.
Sitting members of parliament have sent their agents into factories to buy up votes during the present registration process.
The Sunday Observer reported (27 May 2018) several textile workers from different firms in the industrial town of Matsapha said they were willing to sell.
It reported one textile worker saying, ‘Some of the current Members of Parliament have dispatched their agents to our firm in Nhlangano to buy votes for as little as E50 and chicken portions.’
It added the textile workers were persuaded to register as residents of the surrounding areas as opposed to their chiefdoms of origin. In Swaziland, people may register in any constituency if they have stayed in the area for not less than three months.
‘Since most of the people working in the firms are now renting flats in the neighbouring constituencies, they are then targeted and persuaded to register to vote within their present residential areas,’ the newspaper reported.
There have been reports of corruption across Swaziland since registration began on 13 May 2018. At Maphungwane in the Matsanjeni North Constituency, football teams rejected a E10,000 (US$790) sponsorship from an aspiring member of parliament. The Swazi Observer reported (18 May 2018) that the sponsorship was in the form of prize money that would be paid at the end of the football season and after the election had been held.
The newspaper reported the clubs’ representatives questioned the timing of the sponsorship and rejected the offer. One club boss told the Observer that aspiring MPs had also tried to manipulate them in the past.
Police in Swaziland are investigating possible election corruption concerning a former government minister accused of bribing people with promises of food parcels for their votes.
Elsewhere, residents at Mbangweni complained of nepotism when four people selected to assist in the election were from the same family. The Swazi Observer reported Inkhosatana Gelane, the acting KoNtshingila chief, saying they were ‘loyal and respectful residents’. The Shiselweni Regional Administrator Themba Masuku is investigating.
CONFUSION OVER VOTER NUMBERS
POLICE PROBE ELECTION “CORRUPTION’
POOR START TO VOTER REGISTRATION
REGISTRATION OPENS FOR SWAZI ELECTION