Robert Musa Vilakati, a former member of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province, has thrown his hat into the political ring, vying for the Member of Parliament (MP) position in Timphisini Inkhundla, located within the Emvembili Chiefdom of Swaziland. Vilakati’s electoral aspirations came to light through a recent exposé by South Africa’s City Press, which raised concerns about his citizenship, a key requirement for ANC Executive members.
The City Press report delved into the potential issue of Vilakati holding dual citizenship, a matter of significance in his bid for the MP seat. Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, mandates that candidates for MP positions must possess Eswatini citizenship, raising questions about Vilakati’s eligibility. In response to inquiries by this publication, Vilakati confirmed his decade-long involvement in the ANC Executive and his tenure on the Nkomazi mayoral committee.
Regarding his South African citizenship, Vilakati explained that his mother is South African, while his father hails from Eswatini. He highlighted South African law, which permits children to be registered under their mother’s surname. It’s worth noting that prior to a Constitutional Court ruling granting unmarried fathers the right to register their children under their surnames, this required the mother’s consent. This restriction stemmed from Section 10 of the South African Births Act, specifically addressing the registration of children born outside of marriage.
Vilakati’s situation stems from his mother’s marriage to his Eswatini-born father, who himself could not change his son’s surname under the previous legal constraints. When Vilakati sought employment opportunities in South Africa, he became involved in community initiatives, joined the ANC, and eventually earned a seat on the Nkomazi Town Council.
Speaking candidly, Vilakati acknowledged the complex nature of his citizenship status: “My mother technically holds dual citizenship. It was a choice between her surrendering her Eswatini citizenship for me to attain South African citizenship, but that wasn’t feasible as she was married in Eswatini.”
This revelation adds a layer of complexity to Vilakati’s political journey as he seeks to represent Timphisini Inkhundla in the 12th Parliament of Eswatini.
Source: Times of Swaziland