Cabinet must engage chiefs, media on economic recovery strategy



BY : ZWELI MARTIN DLAMINI

As the country adopts the economic recovery strategy, it would be advisable for Cabinet to engage traditional leaders and lecture them on how they can support eMaswati to establish businesses on the Swazi Nation Land (SNL).

The most significant resource that we have as a country is land under the authority of traditional leaders and we need Chiefs who understand their role in influencing subjects to utilize this resource for economic growth. Government decision to develop roads in the rural areas through the probase project is commendable but this should in one-way or the other, generate millions for the country through the establishment of projects at grassroots level. It is unfortunate that in this country, we seem to underestimate the role of traditional leaders in the development of this country yet they are the ones who interact with the people within the communities. The decision by government to improve the roads in the communities through the probase projects should include a clear developmental strategy on how investments projects would benefit those communities. It should be noted that infrastructure development is one of the major factors that promote both Domestic Investments (DIs) and or Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and as such, the country should utilize the availability of land and other resources in the communities.

The governing structure of the country recognizes Chiefs as heads of the various communities but there seems to be limited working relationship between government and the traditional leadership. In this regard, the offices of the Regional Administrators should act as a conduit between government and the traditional leaders for the sustainable development of this country. The office of a Regional Administrator should not only be associated with resolving land disputes within the various chiefdoms, this institution is better positioned to connect government and the communities. Government should improve the ease of doing business and further conduct workshops for chiefs, Tindvuma Tetinkhundla, Bucopho and other community leaders on their role in as far as the economic strategic framework is concerned.

Furthermore, Cabinet must engage the media being one of the most crucial institutions with the ability to influence public opinion regarding the state of the economy in the country. It's a pity that in this country, the media currently provides nothing in terms of economic recovery articles except to criticize government. Criticism of government should be done in the interest of the country and as such journalists should provide ideas in their writings on how the economy of the country could be transformed. Personally, I always have a problem with media practitioners who ignored their fundamental role to educate and inform the society. We, the media should also take the blame for this economic mess, because we choose to focus mostly on issues that doesn't add any value to the political, economic and social issues affecting this country. Let me emphasize that the media should actively play its role and hold government accountable but at the same time, the fourth estate should not ignore its fundamental objective to educate and constructively influence decisions in public administration.

These days, the media is focusing mostly on stories that involve violence like murder, rape and other criminal activities, this then suggest the public would debate these issues while the economic situation in this deepens. The media play a significant role in creating a national agenda and as the situation stands, the citizens are being channeled to think about crime, this will result to disaster.

It's true, like on all countries, we have challenges of crime, but the mainstream media now exaggerates without considering the effects of this to the economy of the country. I have been to other countries where you hardly go to sleep without hearing gunshots or passing through certain streets without seeing a dead body, this is not happening in Eswatini. However, the media instead of holding government accountable on serious issues of public administration that include corruption, maladministration among others, it is portraying this country as a crime infested State thus undermining Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).

It is for this reason that Cabinet should engage the media and lecture journalists regarding thetheir role in the economic transformation. I have been reading series of informative articles by Alec Lushaba, the Swazi Observer editor, which stipulates what government should do to revive the economy. As a country, we need more journalists who will hold government accountable and further provide economic ideas on how this country could be transformed. Again, let me emphasize that the media should escalate it's vibrancy and expose corruption ingovernment because this scourge undermine economic development and further deprive citizens social services that should be provided by government.