How Marwick, Nonhlanhla stopped Bill amendments
MBABANE – MPs Nonhlanhla Dlamini and Marwick Khumalo managed to stop new amendments during the passing of two vital Communications Bills in Parliament on Monday.
The proposed laws are the Swaziland Communications Bill of 2010 and the Electronic Communications Bill of 2010, which were passed by the House of Assembly that day.
The two legislators used Standing Orders 97 and 98 to stop the minister’s amendments.
These Standing Orders bar the inclusion of amendments, to a Bill, on provisions that the House has made pronouncements on and from including new sections when the proposed law has entered committee stage. MPs Khumalo and Dlamini said the minister was out of order by trying to bring in the amendments during that stage.
Chairman of the Portfolio committee on ICT, Qedusizi Ndlovu, yesterday praised the MPs for their awareness.
The country’s two telecomm-unications companies are grappling over ownership of an international gateway; with Swazi MTN seeking to have its own instead of relying on SPTC infrastructure.
Following passing of the Bills without the amendments, SPTC will now be granted "an exclusive nationwide licence for establishing, constructing, maintaining and operating the national telecommunications backbone infrastructure within Swaziland for a period not exceeding five years."
That is if it is eventually passed to law after Senate.
One of the proposed amendments to the Electronic Communications Bill, Section 50 (3) would have most likely changed this.
It states: "Local operators of telecommunications networks with access to international traffic will be required to transfer international traffic, as at the date of entry of this Act, to the Commission or its lawful delegated authority."
In an interview yesterday, Khumalo said they in no way would have risked allowing such a provision. "The amendments (by the minister) were biased because the gateway was being taken to the Commission. They were giving the gateway to govern-ment and government could then take it anywhere it wants. We couldn’t afford that risk," MP Khumalo said.
On the other hand, MP Dlamini, who successfully moved that the amendments should not be entertained, singled out Section 8(i) which was a proposed amendment to the Swaziland Communications Commission Bill 2010.
It states that "…the Commission shall operate directly or to sub-delegate an exclusive international telecommunications gateway."
The ICT minister could not be reached for comment as she first did not answer her mobile phone when called and did not respond to a text message sent to her by the time of compiling this report in the evening. When later called she still did not answer as her phone as it was switched off.
Meanwhile, MP Marwick Khumalo is banking on senators not allowing ICT Minister Winnie Magagula’s amendments to be included in the two Communications Bills.
The Bills will now be debated in the Upper chamber. Should senators not agree with the way the Bills have been passed by the august House, a joint House sitting would be necessary.
However, MP Khumalo does not see this happening.
As a citizen of this country, I want to thank the two MP's Marwick and Nonhlanhla. The two additional amendments to the telecommunications bill were very very dangerous if they were adopted and allowed to pass through in their present format. I hope Senate will do the same by objecting strongly to these amendments. I'm an expert in the field and I could smell from afar the alleged bad intentions of these amendments. But thanks to these forward-thinking MP's, they smelled the same stench from afar too, and they made us ordinary citizens proud!
Jun 13, 2012, 5:49 AM, Proud Citizen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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