Nontobeko Dlamini – Swaziland

Date: July 1, 2015
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Nontobeko DlaminiAt 26 years old, I am the youngest female candidate standing in the upcoming Swaziland Local Government elections. I am standing for Siteki Town constituency, a small town in eastern Swaziland, west of the 800km Lubombo mountain range, stretching from the Hluhluwe in KwaZulu Natal and Pundamaria in Limpompo.

According to the Town Council the constituency has a population of about 6000 people. I am one of the 53 women in politics hoping to get a mandate from this community to represent them in local government.

In University I studied Journalism and Communication studies. Now I know I will need those skills, because I am pitted against three other candidates, all males. I am facing the long time standing councilor of the ward.  I have worked for Swaziland Royal Sugar Corporation Limited, and have done community volunteer work with the Lubombo Community Multimedia Center that is working on establishing a community radio station for the Siteki region.I hope my candidacy will increase women’s representation in politics and decision-making resulting in improved quality of governance, as women constitute more than 52% of the population of Swaziland.

I come from a strongly opinionated family that socialized me to speak out my opinion in support of great debate and divergent views. I come from an opinionated family that allowed us to voice out opinions regardless of one’s gender and age. My family inculcated the ability to self express without fear.  As a woman, I was inspired by my father to go into politics. Although my father never held a public political position he inspired me a lot, he was politically active, ever engaging us in political discussions that made us appreciate the importance of politics.

I find politics very interesting, because it encompasses so much of everyday life. It touches every spectrum of life, how people are governed, how they live, resources and services at their disposal. It also considers the how they and interact with each other. I decided to go into politics after my tertiary education so that my voice and that of the young women like me could be heard.

In a patriarchal society like Swaziland voices of women and young people are seldom listened to. Decisions made at local government often forget the challenges and the aspirations of youths and women. It is my hope that taking up a political position as a councilor will help me shape my own future and of generations after me.

It is my hope that my going into local government as a young woman will inspire other young women to see that it is possible to get your voice heard and to contribute to the decision making processes at that level.

While taking politics as a career, I hope to take to council women and youth voices. I want to ensure that the two groups are adequately represented and that policies and council decisions are gender sensitive. I wnat to see council plan and implement programmes that supports and empowers women and the youths.

If elected, I will ensure that the council focuses on creating an enabling environment through establishing programmes and working with other critical stakeholders such as the business community to create employment opportunities for the young people. I hope to work with council to ensure that the local authority promotes job creation for the young people and help the young people get employment and get out of drugs and other social ills such as crime.

My vision is to contribute to the development of the small town of Siketi, support the development of roads, social amenities and businesses for the people of the town. I hope to assist the town to attract investors and catalyse development in Siteki. Should the town attract investors it will be able to create employment for the unemployed youth that are into drugs, crime and other social vices. I envision a clean town with an efficient refuse collection department and sound health system for the residents. As a town we need to make sure that our refuse is regularly collects and that we have a health department with health inspectors and not wait for health inspectors from central government.

Looking into the future, I hope more young women will be inspired to take up politics and help the achievement of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development that targets 50 percent of women in leadership positions at local government by 2015. I hope to go beyond local government politics into national politics as I mature in my role.

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