By Ntombi Mhlongo
The proposed conversion of the Eswatini National Provident Fund (ENPF) into a pension fund has made MPs accuse some Cabinet ministers of frustrating the whole process.
This happened during the adoption of the budget report for the Minister of Labour and Social Security at the House of Assembly. Chairperson of the ministry’s portfolio committee MP Lutfo Dlamini said the conversion is in the interest of all emaSwati and that it was frustrating to note that the issue was delayed at the Cabinet level.
The Ndzingeni MP said the Minister of Labour and Social Security Phila Buthelezi was given a motion that was passed by MPs to the effect that he should table a bill that will regulate the conversion. He said the minister returned and requested to be given more days that lapsed.
“When we asked him, he said he has done everything and the bill is now at Cabinet. As I speak, the issue is on the Cabinet agenda, but it is not being discussed and that is on record,” said the MP.
He suggested that after the adoption of the budget for the ministry, all Cabinet ministers should not be allowed in Parliament until they have finalised the bill in question.
The MPs said by not tabling the bill, Cabinet was seemingly fighting the resolution that was passed in Parliament.
“We are supposed to work on the bill and make sure that we pass it before our term of office ends. We have to do this because it will benefit the citizens,” he said.
Other MPs supported the Ndzingeni MP and as they posed supplementary questions, they asked to know who exactly at Cabinet is frustrating the process.
They even asked if the substantive minister from the ministry where the bill has to come from was as frustrated as they were. They also asked to know why the minister was not coming back to them to say if he had failed to get his colleagues to work on the bill.
Motshane MP Robert Magongo asked if the minister would be happy if the budget for his ministry can be suspended until he and the Cabinet took the issue seriously.
“It is clear that there are ministers who do not want the conversion to happen because of reasons known by them,” submitted Magongo.
In the end, the MPs agreed that while the budget will be passed, they will be on the minister’s case until he comes out openly and admit that there were ministers who, because of their reasons, did not want the conversion.