By Lwazi Dlamini
As if heeding His Majesty King Mswati III’s clarion call to go out and vote in numbers, emaSwati cascaded to the polling stations countrywide like bees to a honey pot.
From as early as 7 am, with the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) having set up everything needed at the polling stations on time, the voting exercise began in earnest in many constituencies with people moving gingerly in long queues to exercise their God-given right to vote for their preferred candidates freely and fairly.
While there was a minor commotion at the Nsukumbili High School polling station in Hhukwini Inkhundla where mothers with infants were given preferential treatment, causing frustration among voters, everything went seamlessly in many various constituencies around the Kingdom.
The situation at the Nsukumbili High School polling station was promptly attended to by security personnel who stepped in and squashed the flaring tensions, preventing any potential escalation into a more significant disturbance.
The EBC live updates put the voting turnout to over 60 per cent at the time of going to press at midnight on Friday in a majority of constituencies, clearly proving that emaSwati truly subscribed to the EBC payoff line of “Ngete Ngasala Nasakha Live Letfu” and heeded His Majesty King Mswati III’s clarion call.
A huge turnout of voters at the country’s traditional headquarters at Lobamba Inkhundla seems to set the tone countrywide with voters cramming Nkhanini, Lobamba National High School, Zabeni, Somnjalose High School and Ezulwini Catholic Primary School.
This is where five candidates namely, Michael Masilela, ‘Mbhambadane’ Bhembe, Majahodvwa Khumalo, Micheal Soko and Lucky Simelane were vying for the hot seat at Lobamba to replace Allen Stewart. Ezulwini Catholic Primary School recorded the highest number of voters compared to the other centres as an average of 100 voters filled the venue every 30 minutes.
At Kwaluseni Primary School under the Kwaluseni Inkhundla, there was also a massive turnout from as early as 7 am when EBC officials began assisting people through the different polling stations, which amounted to five. From the first stop to the last, the people were seen moving smoothly with no inconveniences, which became the modus operand in all the polling stations. The youth and a fine number of elders dominated the day as they came in their numbers.
At Mbabane East, the voters, in a beeline, moved gingerly to cast their votes throughout the day with an estimated number of 1,000 voters at Ka-Boyce Primary School where Times of Eswatini Sunday journalist Welcome Dlamini was favourite to win.
Dlamini was contesting for the MP position together with Lucky Dube, Sandile ‘Nkomishi’ Ginindza and Majojo Mamba. Ginindza, the former Mbabane Swallows and Sihlangu Semnikati goalkeeper had caused a stir when he lambasted EBC officials, accusing them of displaying favouritism tendencies towards one of the nominees, Welcome Dlamini.
At the time of compiling this report, ‘Nkomishi’ had staged a spirited fight, even leading the race at around 10 pm but by midnight, the hot favourite Welcome Dlamini had amassed 1426 votes while the agile shot-stopper had 812.
Former Minister of Commerce Jabulani ‘Buy Cash’ Mabuza was cruising with with over 4000 votes with the nearest challenger, Nitho Siboniso Mamba lagging at 430 votes. Long-serving Member of Parliament, Marwick Khumalo was hogging the top spot in Lobamba Lomdzala with 337 votes while the nearest challenger Lucelwa Raymond Dlamini had 222.
Sifiso Shongwe, the son of incarcerated murder suspect, Sipho Shongwe, who had also topped the Special Vote on Tuesday was on top with 3323 votes in Kwaluseni Inkhundla, closely followed by Simeon Simelane with 3125 at the time of compiling this report at 12:25 am.
At Siphofaneni Inkhundla, where the turnout was also impressive, Nomalungelo Simelane, wife to a fugitive of the law, Mduduzi ‘Magawugawu’ Simelane, had amassed 1296 while the nearest challenger Moshoeshoe Nkambule was a distant behind at 659 votes.
Former Minister of Tinkhundla and Administration David ‘Cruiser’ Ngcamphalala seemed to be cruising nicely at Ndunayithini Inkhundla where he had amassed 1560 votes and was followed by Phila Justice Dlamini with 1123.
Former Eswatini Posts and Telecommunications Corporation Marketing Manager Charles Ndlovu, who is now an employee of Eswatini Mobile, was leading with an almost unassailable lead of 948 votes followed at a distance by Velumusa Dlamini with 367 votes in Ngudzeni.
Former Minister of Public Service, Mabulala Maseko was also on the lead with 258, 201 votes ahead of Sabelo Dlamini in Maphalaleni while Eswatini Football Association (EFA) vice president Steve Horton who had taken the lead shortly after 1 am was displaced by businessman Mashayinkonjane Nhlengetfwa skyrocketed to over 2000 votes in Manzini North.
As the counting in the various polling stations continued at a snail’s pace in the ungodly hour on Saturday morning, it was a good reflection on the vote of confidence by the populace on the Tinkhundla System of government and emaSwati, in more ways than one, proved they have an unbreakable bond and unmistakably obdurate belief on the system of governance as reflected by the high voting numbers, free and fair elections.