Mbabane: Manzini North Member of Parliament, Macford Sibandze has indicated that he is saddened by the passing of Swaziland Democratic Party (SWADEPA) president, Jan Sithole, who passed away at his home in Nelspruit, South Africa. He was 67.
This is despite that the two didn’t look eye to eye during the 2018 parliamentary elections, and at one point roped each other to court, in a case which was eventually won by Sibandze.
“After the secondary elections and my eventual victory to represent Manzini North Sithole reached out to me and shook my hand,” said Sibandze in a telephone interview.
In November 2018 Sithole took the then Chairman of the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Chief Gija Dlamini, now Manzini Regional Administrator (RA) to court contesting that Sibandze was unlawfully registered as a voter under the Manzini North Inkhundla, all contrary to the provisions of the Voters Registration Act of 2013.
At the time Sithole, who previously had voted under the Manzini Central Chiefdom, was also a candidate for election to be a Member of Parliament representing the Manzini North Inkhundla, which is made up of, amongst others, the Manzini Central Chiefdom and the Makholweni Chiefdom. He had won the primary elections at Manzini Central Chiefdom and was then a candidate in the secondary elections.
Meanwhile, Sibandze was also successful in the primary elections under Makholweni Chiefdom and he continued to the secondary election stage. Sithole sought an order setting aside the nomination and subsequent election of Sibandze to the House of Assembly but the matter was eventually dismissed and Sibandze advanced to the point of wining the overall elections and went to Parliament to represent the Manzini North Inkhundla.
Talking to Independent News Sibandze said he was grief stricken by the passing of Sithole despite that they were political contestants, who had battled for the parliamentary seat to the extent of going to court. “I take this opportunity to send condolences to the Sithole family and may his soul rest in peace,” said the legislator.
Thick and thin
Sibandze went on to narrate his experiences as a politician, saying his journey was through thick and thin. He said he had seen it all, from being fired from his position as the Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs in 2012, and replaced by Maseyisini Member of Parliament, Mduduzi ‘Small Joe’ Dlamini. However, Sibandze still maintained his position as a Member of Parliament representing the Manzini North Inkhundla. The minister and his Principal Secretary, Lucy Dlamini had been accused of misappropriating proceeds from a E10.5 million sale of Nhlangano Sun Hotel when taking external trips.
“Worsening my misery was the media which breathed down my neck all the time, following me wherever I went and making feel like I would never rise to my feet again,” said Sibandze, adding that in the event he lost over 18 kilograms of his body weight and was virtually a shadow of his former self. Sibandze mentioned that how he rose to where he is today is due to both God and his own never-say-die spirit. “There is a lot I can share on how far I have come in life but that can be on another day as there is lot I can cough out,” said Sibandze.