SA Alliance supports Swaziland to engage Government Around Upgrading Policy

By Kwanele Sibanda (on behalf of CORC)

From 29 October – 2 November 2014 the South African Alliance travelled to Swaziland to support communities in their work with government around a national upgrading policy currently under review. The exchange aimed at looking into Swaziland’s draft policy on land allocations and procedure that is likely to cause evictions. The engagements were between municipality officials, Zone leaders and the local federation.

Group photo of Mayors, Councillors, SLIPO & FEDUP members

Group photo of Mayors, Councillors, SLIPO & FEDUP members

The Kingdom of Swaziland

The Kingdom of Swaziland is located in Southern Africa and is land locked . The Swazi Nation Land, which is communal, is held in trust by the King and parts of it are allocated by Chiefs to individual Swazi families for their use. Swaziland has four administrative regions which are further divided into 55 Tinkhundla Centres (Local Administration) these form the basic unit of political administration. Political parties were banned from the constitution promulgated on 13 October 1978.

The local federation

The federation of Swaziland is known as SLIPO (Swaziland Low Income People’s Organization). No local support NGO has been established as yet.The federation activities are currently being anchored by John Dlamini who has supported the federation from its revival in 2011.In 2008 an exchange was held to Zambia and it was attended by municipal officials and zone leaders. Upon their return, they established the federation with a lot of support from the municipality.An MOU was submitted to the national government in 2012; however no formal feedback was given back to the federation.Out of Swaziland’s total of four regions, the federation is in two regions namely: Manzini and Hhohho.The other two regions that have not yet been mobilized are Lubombo and Shiselweni.SLIPO’s membership is currently at 429 and they have R498 333.00 in savings.The federation is currently in the process of building a federation office that is being funded by SDI.

SLIPO Federation Office Near Completion

SLIPO Federation Office Near Completion

Challenges posed by Swaziland’s draft policy on upgrading

In 2008, residents of Mbabane were informed that the government is working on a policy around upgrading; however it is asserted that no further consultation was held with the respective communities. Without much knowledge about the implications of the policy; the communities remained relaxed. As SLIPO intensified its engagements with the state in 2014, it came to light that the policy had reached an advanced stage and if it is not attended; its implementation may come with more harm than good for the poor communities. To start off the process, the policy shall be implemented with an intention of upgrading 9 areas around Mbabane and that will affect Ward 1, 2, 3, part of 7, 11 and 12. Each Ward is divided into Zones.The Land Allocations Policy and Procedure went through council and passed. It was recommended that it be forwarded to the Minister and it is currently with him for approval before it is forwarded to cabinet. The first and direct negative implication of the policy especially to the poor is that; he who cannot afford a site estimated at R42 000 shall be required to seek a new place of residence (in a form that can be described as eviction). According to the state, the aim of selling the sites is that of raising funds for service installation. As SLIPO grows to another stage within the SDI alliance; it encountered a challenge that requested support; hence the request for the South African alliance to go and support. .

Day 1: Preparatory Meeting 

As SLIPO and South African delegates met in preparation for the meeting with the Mayor, they explained the background,origins and implications of the problematic draft policy to the South African visitors and requested them to focus their presentation on how the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) partnered with government and what they have achieved. SLIPO further explained that:

  • mobilizes and organises members in informal and formal wards because there is a great percentage that is struggling to pay rates and taxes and run at a risk of having their properties seized.
  • SLIPO would like to mobilise and organize communities, use SDI tools and be able to influence policies and the manner in which they are drafted
  • its challenge within the Municipality is a lack of proper handover of information

Meeting the Mayors and the councillors

Four councillors, seven SLIPO representatives and four SASDI alliance delegates attended the meeting. These included the Mayor of Mbabane, the Mayor of Manzini, the Representing Mayor of Ngwenya and the Mayor of Piggs Peak. SLIPO first presented its background, aims and objectives, member, savings UPF, loans, projects as well as areas covered. The SASDI alliance’s presentation gave an overview of SDI, tools, S.A partnerships with the state and other formal institutions as well as achievements. The various representatives explained how working closely with saving and organized communities results in meaningful development.

In his response, the Mayor indicated that he is impressed with the presentations and approach taken.He enlightened delegates about the differences between S.A and Swaziland: While South Africa has three spheres of government (national, provincial and local), Swaziland only has national and local. In addition to the above, the local municipalities rely on rates and taxes payment as funds for development; hence the need to sell plots and install infrastructure. The municipalities have a serious budget constraint because they do not get a budget allocation from national for service installation and maintenance. Funds received from national are for subsidizing service provision that is made to areas that do not pay rates and taxes.The Mayor furthermore emphasized that if there are such communities that are taking a stand in development; the state and SLIPO have to jointly have a model that clearly states how the process is going to be undertaken. Lastly, it was indicated that for SLIPO to be recognized as a national structure, it has to cover all the four regions of Swaziland.

Patrick Matsemela from North West FEDUP presenting to Zone leaders

Patrick Matsemela from North West FEDUP presenting to Zone leaders

Day 2: Meeting with Zone Leaders 

On day two of the exchange, a meeting was held between SLIPO saving scheme leaders, Zone leaders and the SASDI delegates. Zone leaders are equivalent to community leaders in the South African context. The aim of meeting them was that of: sharing the SDI concept with them, reporting on what SLIPO has been doing in form of saving schemes, share report back from meeting with the Mayors and Councillors and also requesting their support in establishing more saving schemes in their respective Zones.

The zone leaders were informed about the upgrading policy and also reminded that it is everyone’s challenge therefore a joint effort is required in finding a better solution. The estimated cost of each plot is around R42 000 and that will require at least a R600 contribution per member per month for at least five years. It was mentioned that the majority of residents are unemployed and for those that are employed they hardly earn R3 000 per month.

The leaders basically denounced the displacement of residents in the name of development and furthermore pledged to support SLIPO in mobilizing communities and engaging the government in a workable solution to the challenge.

Day 3: Meeting with Saving Scheme Leaders 

On day three the saving scheme leaders met to report back the previous days’ engagements, share savings reports, discuss mobilization and establish more saving schemes. Some of the outcomes were:

  • SLIPO would request monthly joint meetings to share its work and request participation from relevant officials
  • SLIPO saving scheme leaders to discuss and agree on a reasonable affordable amount of savings contributions
  • Leaders have a task of drafting an MOU directed to the Municipality of Mbabane as recommended

Some Lessons Learnt 

  • Swaziland has a different governing system (only national and local government)
  • SLIPO’s savings figures with limited support from the state and other institutions reflect a great commitment level
  • The lesson on the importance of savings as practiced in Swaziland can be of great use if taken seriously in South Africa. In Swaziland Saving scheme with as few members as 15 have more than 25 000 in savings and these are savings that started in 2011. The statistics show a great level of commitment.
  • SLIPO is a fairly new federation without much of projects or formal partnerships established, but the unity amongst members and moral is a great starting point for success.
Leaders of different saving schemes gather after meeting with  SASDI delegates

Leaders of different saving schemes gather after meeting with SASDI delegates

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