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Constitution to be amended

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MBABANE –There are moves to amend the Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland this year to incorporate, among other things; prerogatives of His Majesty the King, which were mistakenly omitted.

One of His Majesty’s prerogatives that need to be enshrined in the constitution is the customary way of appointing a prime minister as there is no provision that the king can appoint him or her from outside the House of Assembly.

However, the prerogative of the MPs to elect a Senate President and the Speaker in the House of Assembly from outside Parliament is enshrined in Section 100 (1) and 102 (1) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland, 2005.

When it comes to the appointment of the PM by the king, the constitution does not provide for those alternatives the same way it does when parliamentarians are to appoint Speaker and President. They can even appoint someone who is not an MP.

In the appointment of the PM, the constitution is just direct and specific: "The King shall appoint the prime minister from among members of the House acting on recommendation of the King’s Advisory Council."

This is according to Section 67 (1).

Prince Guduza, Speaker in the House of Assembly, could only confirm the need to amend the constitution. He did not want to single out a constitutional provision that needed to be amended as there were many clauses that needed to be fine tuned.

He said he would not disclose the provisions that should be amended. He hinted though that those provisions were political in nature.

The prince then explained why he was not comfortable with the disclosure of these provisions.

"I cannot disclose them. I don’t want government to be taken to court for discrepancies in the constitution," he said.

He continued to say he would not delve much into the matter because he knew the politician who was desperately pushing hard for the amendment of the constitution.

It can be revealed that as it were, the customary way of appointing the prime minister is technically understood to be in conflict with the constitution because it provides that a prime minister must be appointed among members of the House – not outside.

Many global publications referred to Sibusiso Dlamini as the unconstitutional prime minister after local civil society and political observers had complained that he was not an MP when he was appointed in 2008.

Around October this year, His Majesty the king is expected to either reappoint the current prime minister, Sibusiso Dlamini or appoint a new one.

Dlamini is eligible for a second term under the current constitution.

The prime minister is appointed at the National cattle byre. The prime minister himself must not even know that he will be appointed.

Usually, the nation is also clueless about the person to be appointed.

It can also be revealed that there is an argument within royal corridors that appointing the PM-elect to the House of Assembly before His Majesty announces his name at the cattle byre could make the nation predict his name before the king pronounces it.

Balancing the scales, traditionalists feel the Swazi way of appointing the PM must be enshrined in the constitution to protect the appointing authority from global condemnation and perceptions that the constitution is not being adhered to.

Acting Ludzidzini Royal Residence Governor Timothy Velabo Mtetwa declined to comment on this issue, saying it was so sensitive that it had almost burnt fingers of certain men. He, however, did not expand on this.

"Please, please, please…let me not comment on this matter. It almost caused trouble for some men (yacishe yabashisa tandla)" he said.

Chief Logcogco, Chairman of the Liqoqo, the King’s Advisory Council, said amendment of the constitution was ‘a matter for Members of Parliament.’

He said the amendment of the Swazi constitution would not be easy as there were many processes that needed to be followed such as the consideration of special and entrenched provisions, which required the input of many structures.

The appointment of the PM falls under the entrenched provisions, which require that the amendment of this section must be passed by at least two-thirds of the votes of all members of both chambers.

Sabelo Matsebula, acting Attorney General (AG), said they would take any instructions from superiors on what to do but the Swazi way of appointing the prime minister was excellent and extraordinary as it aroused public anxiety and curiosity. He said it would make no difference to put the Swazi way of appointing the prime minister in the constitution or not.

He said one of the 10 seats for king’s appointees was left vacant in the House of Assembly for the occupation of the prime minister to be appointed the Swazi way.

After taking up the vacant seat, he said, the prime minister then became a House of Assembly member. This, he said, meant the Prime Minister was appointed among the members of the House. MP Marwick Khumalo reserved his comments on the grounds that he had not applied himself fully to the matter.

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