Gone are the days when the country used to have relatively young people in influential positions.

Gideon Mhlongo has been the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Mbabane City Council for years now, having been returned and endorsed back in 2010 by then Minister of Housing and Urban Development Pastor Lindiwe Dlamini as the CEO of the City Council, from the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (now Royal Eswatini Sugar Corporation), subsequent to a recommendation by the Council – there was an expected hullabaloo since his departure had resembled roily waters whose contaminants had hitherto not been removed, following a commission of an inquiry appointed by former Minister Stella Dlamini to look into corruption issues in 2022.

Fast forward, the man found himself back in the office in 2010. Speculation was rife at the time that his relationship with erstwhile Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini might have had a hand in Mhlongo’s inveterate regime at the Mbabane City Council. He was to later find an ally in former Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Clifford Mamba, with whom they just had their contracts terminated.

After the termination of his contract, Mhlongo allegedly wanted to see the King, obviously, the assumption was that he wanted to plead for his contract renewal. Both men are over the retirement age of 60. Mhlongo is about 62 and Clifford Mamba turned 60 on May 5, this year.

Ironically, and in a manner reminiscent of his alleged ally, Mamba is said to have simply locked the office and left with the key, in what many assume was an attempt to get back through a royal order. So byzantine is Mamba’s issue so much so that it remains unclear as to whether or not he has vacated the government house allocated to him. An insider who spoke to The Bridge on condition of anonymity revealed that it would be hard to get Mamba out of the house because it seems he is getting some royal cushion to continue staying in it. Local media have reported on this issue, seeking answers albeit without success.

Reads a 12 June report by Eswatini Observer:

He was so expected to hand over keys to the house on the same day, however, it is understood by this newspaper that this was not the case, which further raises eyebrows as to what actually is happening regarding Mamba’s situation. However, over the past month, there has been reluctance from both the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the Ministry of Public Service, which is tasked with the allocation of government houses, to commit on the former controlling officer’s continued occupation of the residence.

Enough of Gideon and Clifford. Percy Simelane, The King’s Spokesperson, is another over 60-year-old official (probably around 70) who, after turning 60 and serving on contract went home on retirement but was later recalled to head Communications at the King’s office and to be the Chief Spokesperson for His Majesty King Mswati III.

The same happened when Isaac Magagula, former Police Commissioner, retired. He was given a 5-year contract which ended in February 2016. He was again given another 3-year contract which could have elapsed in 2019 but he was then appointed into the House of Senate. Arithmetically, Magagula is over 70 years now. At over 70 years, Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku has taken a posture that suggests he still wants to be considered for public office, and one would not be surprised if he continues.

The list goes on and on, and the question is: why are these men who served the civil service or public institutions for years not taking their package and going home to enjoy their retirement? In fact, the good thing is that, upon retirement, civil servants get their retirement package as well as half their salary until death. Why then are these old men standing in the way of young people who are supposed to get into these positions of responsibility? It would be easy to assume that long before the age of 60 one is already looking forward to going home, resting and taking things, and enjoying their retirement packages. Not with some of the old people we have in the public offices.

One wonders why they never make things easy for the king, instead of bothering him with persuasions for extended contracts. Why not give an opportunity to the younger generation that is equally qualified for these jobs? It is demotivating for the youth to go to school, get qualifications, and accumulate experience, only to be frustrated by old people, mostly men, who refuse to call it a day and go home to enjoy their retirement.

Gone are the days when the country used to have relatively young people in influential positions. Among these, we once had Maxwell Jele as Swaziland National Youth Council (now Eswatini National Youth Council), Hlobisile Ndlovu as Deputy Minister and Minister, Sandlane Zwane as an appointed Member of Parliament, and Musa Ndlangamandla as the King’s Adviser. Gciniwe Fakudze became a Town Clerk and CEO at a young age as well. The list is endless. Not anymore. The old are being appointed or hired and when they reach the age of 60 they never want to go home.