Credible evidence is emerging that people are offering bribes to members of the House of Assembly to be given a seat on the Swaziland Senate.
Swaziland is an absolute monarchy and none of the 30 members of the Swazi Senate are elected by the people. Twenty are appointed by King Mswati III (who recently renamed the kingdom Eswatini) and the rest are elected by the House of Assembly.
Following the election of the House of Assembly on Friday (21 September 2018) people have approached the new members with bribes, the Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday.
It said offers of bribes in ‘the region of E10,000’ (US$700) were made to one member of parliament for his vote. It was refused, the newspaper added.
The Times reported one anonymous MP saying, ‘I have already met a few people who have expressed their wish to be voted into Senate.’
It added, ‘Unconfirmed allegations have been to the effect that Senate seats could go as high as E60,000 paid to each MP.’
The Times reported another new MP said ‘he had received the calls to meet certain individuals, they were sceptical in case it could be a trap’.
The report is not the first suggesting bribes are offered for Senate seats. In the run-up to the election Ncumbi Maziya, a Commissioner at the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), told a workshop for election candidates that members of parliament charged E60,000 for their vote.
The, Swazi Observer newspaper reported in August 2018, ‘He said parliamentarians are the most corrupt people. He said he has since gathered that parliamentarians are swindling money from people who want to make it into Senate.
It added, ‘Maziya said he learnt that people are made to fork out money amounting to E60,000 if they want to get a vote to be elected into Senate. “If you have no money you won’t make it into Senate,” Maziya stated.’
Corruption is believed to be widespread in Swaziland. In December 2017, Swaziland’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) issued a report suggesting that 79 percent of 3,090 people interviewed in a survey believed that corruption within government was ‘rife’.
The survey suggested that corruption was perceived to take place mostly in rural councils. The perceived major causes of corruption were poverty (58 percent), unemployment (54 percent) and greed (41 percent). The survey was conducted by the Swazi Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs through the ACC.
In June 2017, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) reported the kingdom, was riddled with corruption in both private and public places.
It said, ‘The results of grand corruption are there for all to see in the ever increasing wealth of high-level civil servants and officers of state.’
It added, ‘For a long time the police, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade as well as the Department of Customs and Excise have often been implicated in corrupt practices.’
It gave many examples including the case of the government propaganda organisation Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Service (SBIS) where E1.6 million was paid to service providers for the maintenance of a machine that was neither broken nor in use. The officer who authorised the bogus job cards has since been promoted and transferred to another government department.
The report called The effectiveness of anti-corruption agencies in Southern Africa stated, ‘This type of behaviour is common albeit covert and therefore difficult to monitor as goods and services are undersupplied or rerouted for personal use. The results of grand corruption are there for all to see in the ever increasing wealth of high-level civil servants and officers of state.’
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