MBABANE – Senior government officials, from Tuesday, were in a mad rush to compile submissions that were made by the public during the 2023 Sibaya, which are to be presented in Cabinet today.
The mad rush was a result of the maiden Cabinet meeting held on Tuesday by ministers and the Prime Minister (PM), Russell Dlamini. It was gathered that during the first meeting, the premier wasted no time and told ministers that they needed to hit the ground running and that each minister should understand his/her ministry, including the expectations of the public from each of them.
One of the tasks that kept senior government officials running around from Tuesday evening, was getting the submissions made during Sibaya that related to their ministries. According to some of the senior government officials, the PM tasked Cabinet ministers to compile all the submissions that were made during Sibaya individually, and in accordance with their respective ministries. The PM gave the ministers until today to sum up the six-day submissions. It is believed that the submissions would then form part of a discussion to be held today in Cabinet.
On Tuesday, after the Cabinet meeting, some of the ministers immediately brought together their principal secretaries (PSs), under secretaries (USs) and heads of department (HoDs), including parastatals chief executive officers (CEOs), to assist in compiling the Sibaya submissions. Yesterday, most the officials were running up and down getting reports, while others recapped the recorded videos online with the goal of compiling the reports in readiness for presentation today. “The minister dropped a bomb on us after the Cabinet meeting. We are expected to compile a report of all the submissions that were made during Sibaya and this should be ready by Thursday (today),” said one senior official, who was seeking assistance from scribblers with the submissions.
Others were even asking for soft copies of the Sibaya report that was compiled by National Secretary Nhlanhla Dlamini, from members of the media. This media house was inundated with calls from officials, who sought published articles on issues relating to Sibaya submissions. When some were advised to go through YouTube channels, they decried the turn-around time, as most of them were notified about the announcement on Tuesday evening and were under pressure to deliver. Some of those who had worked prior with the PM, more especially when the country was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, advised their colleagues not to cut corners in compiling these reports. This is because the PM created a name for himself when he was with the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), as a dedicated person and a perfectionist.
“I pray my colleagues don’t do a shoddy job because from the experience I have with him, he has already made his compilation,” said another official, who worked with Dlamini during the country’s response to COVID-19, which was spearheaded by NDMA. Inasmuch as there was the mad-rush for the Sibaya submissions, some of the government officials appreciated the exercise, as they believed it would keep everyone engaged. This is because, during Sibaya, His Majesty King Mswati III said the submissions would be a guide for policies and laws that the country should have.
The King declared poverty as a national disaster. Once a disaster is declared, the PM should lead the response, together with the ministers. Government Spokesperson Alpheous Nxumalo confirmed that Cabinet was reconvening today. He, however, stated that he was not privy to the agenda of the meeting. Nxumalo was asked after this publication learned about the tasks that were declared by the PM on Tuesday and what was on the agenda of today’s meeting. “Yes, Cabinet is reconvening tomorrow (today), however, the agenda is not communicated to the Government Press Office,” he said. Nxumalo further explained that his office was usually given decisions that had been taken by Cabinet, not the agenda which could be discussed by Cabinet.