1. Projects I’m involved with:
As Minister responsible for Natural Resources and Energy, my areas of responsibility include: Provision of potable water to the nation, provision of electricity, monitoring petroleum energy industry, management of natural resource (minerals), which includes supervising mining activity and some land administration. These areas are by far the most challenged in our economy at this point in time, and they keep me awake at night.
a) Swaziland currently has 66% electricity coverage and my goal is to finish my term having increased that number to 75%. This task involves a lot of dynamics; infrastructure provision to rural areas requires having the skills to negotiate funding, the ability to work with communities and members of parliament in those communities to gather resources to implement projects, and identifying appropriate implementing agencies which can be a huge challenge.
b) Ensuring that the nation is energy sufficient is a major challenge faced by my Ministry. Currently, the nation imports about 80% of its electricity from neighbouring countries which are facing major supply issues and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Swaziland has a robust supply agreement in place with one neighbouring country, South Africa; however this might prove insufficient if the supplier herself has run dry of the resource. Therefore, increasing local generation is my primary objective. During my time here, I would like to put everything in place to ensure that, by 2022, Swaziland generates all of its electricity demands locally and also will be in a position to export. This comes with huge challenges, such as balancing the supply source; my dream is to have a country that mainly uses renewable energy sources. Plans are well underway to make Swaziland a more Green Country, but having to balance this objective against the time it will take to deliver, the capacity available to do it and the cost associated with it is a mammoth task. This challenge alone keeps me awake at night..
c) Provision of potable water in rural communities is the most gratifying of my day-to-day activities. Just opening a tap for the first time in an area that has never seen running water sends a thrill down my spine; I am able to see that we take so many things for granted when you see the joy of the people in those communities as they celebrate their advancement. Changing peoples’ lives doesn’t take much but just by everyone doing their bit, one person at a time, we canmake a difference. Swaziland currently has 73% potable water coverage and my goal is to increase that to 85% by the end of the term. I’m relentless in my pursuit of that goal; so I monitor our progress personally and have a program which goes around the nation every month opening new water sources. I could go on and on, but perhaps that gives you a flavour of what my key job responsibilities are.
2. What role did WK play in my career path choice? You will laugh. When I completed form 5 in WK many years ago, I just wanted to get to university and get a degree and be done with compulsory schooling. I didn’t really have a clearly defined career path and there was no career guidance in the school in my time. So I simply applied to do a Bachelor of Science degree because that’s what was expected of me as I was good with numbers. Looking back, nothing in me was scientific. I love to work with people and socialise, this became apparent to me when I joined the labour market.. This move set me up for where I am today. Let me be clear that I am not a politician, I just see myself as a proud Swazi who is truly honoured to contribute to the advancement of the nation towards Vision 2022, the nation moving towards better development.. So how did WK contribute? In many ways I believe. Firstly, by helping me to have the ability to express myself and be assertive. In my opinion, the schools approach to teaching is by far the best I have heard of. That is why I sent my kids there without any hesitation. The environment is just right to develop leaders. Secondly, those dreaded community service activities we had to do, pay off when you become an adult. I remember on occasion we had to build /repair houses that had been destroyed in the cyclone of 1984. And oh my, hospital visits were the most difficult for me. I feared some of the children because of the ailments they had, but we were taught to love them. Community service helped build empathy within me and gave me the desire to give back. So even in this job I remember WK community service fondly and say thank you WK, I’m a much better person as a result of that exposure.
3. Fond memories of WK. I have too many to count, just too many. I was in New York last month and met up with my best high school friend, Lesley D’Almeida. We cried ourselves sick with laughter recalling the great times. Some are not appropriate to write, lest my kids see this publication :)…but great environment WK was.
4. Advise on politics. My motto is ‘do your best wherever you are’. WK taught me the power of diversity; don’t box yourself into onearea. You can be many things. I have been successful in the corporate sector. I am now in politics and feel I am successful there. So just be willing to adapt as a human being, you will achieve much more in life if you keep an open mind. I have also learnt not to be too judgmental, the world is full of critics, it could do with more love. Be the bigger person everywhere you go, leave an imprint in people’s lives by encouraging them rather than bringing them down. We all have our flaws but there’s a good side to every person, and I mean EVERY person.