Press Release: CANGO comments to the Govt Press Secretary on dismissal of Eswatini corruption report as fake
09 May 2019
MBANE: In a press statement released by Communications Officer Nkosingiphile Myeni on Thursday, CANGO has responded to comments made by the Government Press Secretary Percy Simelane’s dismissal of the credibility of the US State Department report on corruption in the Kingdom of Eswatini as follows:
“The Economic and Budget Forum (EBF) under the auspices of the Coordinating Assembly of NGOs (CANGO) is concerned by the alleged Government Press Secretary Mr Percy Simelane’s reactions to the USA-released report highlighting increased levels of corruption in the Kingdom of Eswatini.
“If anything is to go by the news articles carried out in Page 13 of the Times of Swaziland, of Thursday 9 May 2019, the statement by the Press Secretary seemingly denounces that corruption has in fact increased in the country to alarming rates, reaching endemic levels. No amount of spin to positively project the country’s image without acknowledging the reality on the ground that in fact corruption has blown out of proportion can remove such perceptions.
“Many events have decried the amount of corruption tolerance. He should just own up.
“This is despite national commitments through signing the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and Related Offences, and the SADC Protocol against Corruption, Prevention of Corruption Act (2007) which established the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Public Procurement Act (2010).
“A national corruption perception survey published in 2017 by the ACC found that 79 percent of respondents perceived government to be corrupt whereas 49 percent believed corruption to be sometimes beneficial. ACC representatives acknowledged a widespread public perception that the ACC was ineffective largely because of a lack of financial and human resources and the general backlog of cases in the court system.
“Also, the events of June 29, 2018 where hundreds of workers’ in demonstration led by TUCOSWA petitioning the government on many grievances including the high levels of corruption and anti-tax hikes; the sentiments by the national police Deputy Commissioner Mumcy Dlamini that E30 million was lost through banking fraud as well as the 2017 Auditor General’s report raising numerous government’s accountability irregularities point out a negative picture and that many perceive corruption to be rampant in the country.
“In corruption prevention and education awareness efforts, the ACC conducts dozens of sensitisation workshops and meetings around the country, provide educational materials to schools, and conduct broadcasting programmes.
“It is worrying that there is slow prosecution of corrupt individuals.
“Regarding the alleged comments that Emaswati are among happiest nations in the world, Mr Simelane seems to be living in another country where ordinary people’s struggles do not matter as long as a privileged few must enjoy life.
“Emaswati are facing many challenges. About 70% of the population live below the Dollar a day, there is high youth unemployment, lack of service delivery, elderly grants are delayed and the lack of implementation of decent minimum wage.
“It is the poor who end up paying the high price if funds initially budgeted for services such as health, education, clean water end up illicitly diverted to the advantage of a greedy few.
“While it is not uncommon for essential drugs stock outs, delayed social grant payments, to mention a few, often happening, this must not be a norm.
“We as part of civil society and being cognizant of the struggles of the ordinary people are calling for a national movement against corruption.
“Concurring with the report, corruption in this country is extremely high and perpetrators should be prosecuted.
“We advocate for the ACC to be given the necessary resources to effectively do its work.
“We call upon a responsive justice system, cognizant of the fact that no country can develop if it fails to tackle its challenges head on.
“The report helps us as a country to reflect on our challenges prompting us to do better, not to dismiss it as a fake report.
“If nothing is done, the country is not going to be able to achieve Vision 2022,” the statement said.
The EBF is a structure under CANGO whose objective is to advocate for a consultative dialogue, citizen participation and engagement mechanisms with national stakeholders in matters of the national economy and budget. EBF aims to strategically influence government budgetary process through activities which promote the principles of human-rights based approach.
Contact Nkosingiphile Myeni