By Zwelethu Dlamini
Thousands of emaSwati boycotted the Sibaya meeting despite being provided free transport to the event yesterday.
Apart from the free ride, the people would have had a free test for Covid-19 and a free meal. Government had sent out buses and trucks to transport ferry people from the various constituencies to the traditional headquarters – Ludzidzini Royal Residence – in Lobamba.
Over 24 buses were hired and over 10 trucks were assigned for the Siyaba. Most of the buses with a 60-passenger capacity had an occupancy rate of less than 10 per cent. The majority of the people snubbed the call to Sibaya as the same thing happened to the trucks which ferried few people despite having waited for hours from 6am at the tinkhundla centres some leaving at around 10pm.
On the other hand, several emaSwati preferred to fork out their hard-earned monies to attend a pro-democracy protest march in Manzini which was squashed by the police after the protestors clashed with the police.
Drivers of the trucks and buses interviewed by Inhlase Centre for Investigative Journalism confirmed that there was a poor turnout in the constituencies such that some of the buses that were scheduled for the event were cancelled as some had to transfer the passengers to other buses which were in the corridor they were supposed to service.
J Souza Bus Service, which was at Ngcina, managed to get only 11 passengers yet it has a capacity of 65.
A bus trading under Sukuma Ndoda, which ferried people from Mambane, had less than 10 from that area and only 22 from Siteki. Celas Transport Bus, which went to Ntontozi Inkhundla, had only 1 passenger from Egebeni and a total of seven by the time it reached Lobamba. Dan’s Transport found only three people at Maseyisini, at Shiselweni 2 about 20 people.
Phakama Bus Service which went to Lamgabhi had only 9 passengers. A truck that transported people from Maphalaleni had 20 on board. Another truck that went to Khuphuka had no passengers from that area while five people were transported from Luve and three were from Madlangempisi. Thuthuka Bus Service that went to Ngwempisi only had four passengers while it had the capacity to carry 65.
A truck that transported people from both Mbabane West and Mbabane East constituencies had less than 20 people.
The truck that went to Ntontozi Inkhundla found no person.
One of the truck drivers stated that they were escorted by the police and tried to go to look for people from the nearby homesteads telling them of the free transport but people hid in their homes and at some they only found children.
Others suspected that the logistics were not properly planned.
“They should have instructed the trucks to transport the people from their chiefdoms and bring them to the Tinkhundla where the buses would have found them,”
The drivers felt this was a waste of the taxpayers’ funds and the fuel.